Exercises to Relieve Your Sciatica Symptoms
By Nancy Dickey, Author of Stop Sciatica Now!
One treatment for sciatica pain is to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles through simple exercises. The stronger these muscles are, the less your spine has to carry the weight of most of your body. Make sure to consult a doctor, certified athletic trainer, or a chiropractor who can give you advice on the right exercises for you. Although it’s rare, sciatica can sometimes be caused by an infection or a tumor that requires medical attention. So it’s very important to get an accurate diagnosis of the cause of the pain so you can adopt the right sciatica exercise program for your situation. Plus, doing the wrong type of exercise can worsen the sciatic pain. Doing the right exercises, but without proper form and training, can make the exercises ineffective, and could also lead to continued or increased sciatica pain.
Exercise is better for relieving sciatic pain than bed rest. You might want to rest for the first day or two after your sciatica flares up, but after that, inactivity will make your back pain worse. With a lack of movement, your back muscles will become weak. That can lead to back injury and strain. Plus, exercise keeps your spinal discs healthy and able to continue to exchange nutrients and fluids within the discs, which also prevents pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Exercises should be done gently and regularly to build strength and flexibility. In addition to strengthening your abdominal and core muscles, you should focus on muscles that are directly associated with your sciatica, such as the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle is located on the inside of your buttocks, and the sciatica nerve runs right through it. If this nerve tightens, it puts pressure on the sciatica nerve. To stretch this muscle, lie flat on your back and pull your legs up to a 45 degree angle. Place your right leg over your left as if you are crossing them, then gently pull them towards your chest until you feel the pull in your buttocks. Hold the position for a minute and then release. Switch legs and repeat the exercise. You should feel almost instant pain relief.
Most types of sciatica will also benefit from a regular routine of hamstring stretching. Hamstrings are the muscles that are located in the back of the thigh. When they are overly tight, they can increase the stress on your lower back, which often aggravates or can even cause some of the conditions that result in sciatica. Walking is also an excellent and easy form of exercise for your lower back. It is a relatively low impact exercise that can provide all the benefits you’re looking for. If possible, you should gradually progress to walking up to three miles a day at a brisk pace.
When you commit to a regular program of gentle strengthening and stretching exercises that target muscles associated with sciatica, you can recover more quickly from a flare up of sciatica, and you will be less likely to experience future bouts of pain.
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