Signs of sciatic nerve pain are feelings of numbness or tingling that begins in the lower back region, goes through the buttocks, and runs down the leg, following the path of the sciatic nerve.
Sciatic nerve pain is a symptom of an underlying condition that affects the sciatic nerve. Conditions that can lead to sciatic nerve pain are a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis.
Fortunately, physical therapy and exercises can help relive sciatic nerve pain and improve the condition by increasing strength and flexibility.
Stretches for sciatic pain target the muscles that are in pain. These muscles are often tight and inflexible, so stretching can loosen the tightness and minimize pain.
Stretching the hamstring muscles is one of the best ways to deal with sciatic nerve pain because the sciatic nerve runs through them. The hamstrings are behind the quadriceps, underneath your buttocks.
Towel Hamstring Stretch. Lie on your back with a towel wrapped around one thigh. Lift this leg up into the air with your hands grasping the ends of the towel and begin to straighten the knee until you feel a stretch at the back of the thigh. Start by holding the position for 10 seconds and then gradually increase the duration of the hold over time.
Wall Hamstring Stretch. Lie on the floor in a doorway with one buttock up against a wall and the other leg straight on the floor. Push the foot of the lifted leg up the wall so the knee straightens and you feel a stretch.
Sitting Hamstring Stretch. Sit at the edge of a chair and have one leg straight out in front of you with your heel on the floor, toes pointing upward. Sit up straight and lean your navel toward your thigh, but without actually leaning over. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times with each leg.
It has been found that exercising when you have sciatic nerve pain is better than staying in bed. Strength and low aerobic exercises should be your go-to, as they offer the most relief from sciatica.
Strengthening Exercises. These should work to strengthen the spinal column and the supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This includes targeting the lower back, abdomen, glutes, and hip muscles.
Speak to your physical therapist or trainer about appropriate exercises to help strengthen your muscles in order to reduce sciatic nerve pain.
Low-Aerobic Exercises. These consist of walking, swimming, and pool therapies. They aim to increase fluid and nutrient exchange in order to promote a healthy environment for healing. Furthermore, low aerobic exercises can work as a natural painkiller, because exercise has been shown to help alleviate pain by increasing endorphins in the body.
Other Tips to Relieve Sciatica
Along with stretches and exercises, there are some lifestyle modifications you can utilize in order to alleviate sciatic nerve pain. These include the following:
- Appling hot and cold packs
- Wearing a supporting lower back brace
- Getting proper sleep
- Trying yoga
- Quitting smoking (smokers have higher incidences of back pain)
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Maintaining proper posture, which requires practice
- Ensuring that you lift and carry objects properly
- Moving around as much as possible when a long drive or flight (make stops or get up from your seat)
By practicing these tips as well, you can help improve sciatic nerve pain and prevent future injury.
Devon Andre has been involved in the health and supplement industry for many of years and has written extensively for BelMarraHealth.com where this article was originally published. Check out their Facebook page.