Contrary to what you might think, exercise is one of the best things you can do to help get relief from sciatica. Bed rest is okay initially for just a few days if necessary when your pain begins but it will make your condition worse if you continue. Exercise and physical movement is necessary to condition your back muscles and small spinal muscles to better support your back. Without proper exercise, your back muscles become weaker and this can lead to further back injury that will cause increased amount of pain. Exercise is not only important to maintain muscle conditioning but maintain spinal discs as well. Since your discs are not internally vascularized, movement is required to get nutrients into your discs as well as wastes out. Maintaining healthy discs will help to prevent pressure on your sciatic nerve. Many exercises can be done in the convenience of your own home. A simple sciatic exercise program generally includes strengthening core muscles, hamstring stretching and aerobic exercises.
Which Exercise’s for Sciatica?
Before you get your sciatic exercise program under way, make sure that you visit your health care provider. It is important that you have a proper diagnosis of the cause of your under lying pain. For example, do you have a herniated disc or in particular spinal stenosis? This will determine the right type of exercises you will need to do. Doing the wrong exercises will increase your sciatic pain and possibly do permanent damage. Not only is it important to do the right exercises, but also the exercises must be done correctly. Exercises done incorrectly may worsen your problem. It is a good idea to work with a physical therapist or chiropractor to learn how to do your exercises properly. Then you should be able to do them on your own safely.
1. Core Muscle Strengthening
A sciatica exercise programs generally starts with strengthening your core muscles. Your core muscles include your stomach muscles and back muscles. Strengthening these muscles will provide better support for your back. Stretching exercises for your back and stomach are meant to target muscles that are causing pain because they are tight and lack flexibility. With stretching and strengthening your core muscles, you should be able to recover quickly and slow down future occurrences of sciatic pain.
2. Hamstring Stretches
Next, you can incorporate hamstring stretches into your exercises. If you are not familiar, your hamstrings are found in the back of your thigh. Chances are your hamstring muscles are too tight and are creating stress for your lower back. Tight hamstrings can make your condition worse or this may be the cause of some of your sciatic pain. Hamstring stretching should be a part of your regular exercise whether you have sciatica or not. This form of stretching is known to be effective for most forms of sciatica.
3. Aerobic Exercises
The third form of exercises involves aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises are not what you would call specific for sciatica but may be beneficial. Aerobic exercises provide for all over body fitness. One of the easiest forms of aerobic exercise is walking. I’m sure your aware that walking is a very low impact exercise and will provide excellent therapy for your sciatic pain. It is best to walk everyday. If you are not used to walking, make sure to start out slowly. Try working up to three or more miles a day. Your walk should be rather fast paced to bring up your heart rate. Walking will strengthen all of the muscles of the body allowing you to have good posture. Good posture is important to ease and even eliminate all back pain.
Important Final Tips:
Taking care of your sciatica will be an everyday endeavor. Be careful how you lift things, don’t sit or stand for long times and try to keep a proper posture. Everything contributes to relieving your sciatic pain. Don’t forget to get a proper diagnosis before you begin and make sure you learn how to do your exercises properly. If you follow this regime, you should have great success. In fact, you may experience relief within a few days to one week.
Note From Brigadoon Fitness
Sciatica refers to the pain that radiates from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down either leg. It’s a very common complaint with up to 40% of Americans experiencing sciatica at least one time during their life.
As stated above exercise is the best thing to do when you have sciatica, and stretching is one of the best ways to help ease your pain. Aim to do a standing hamstring stretch, a knee to chest stretch, as well as a pelvic tilt every day. You can do these at least once per day and they can be done up to 3 times per day. Icing the area several times a day for the first couple of days after the pain begins helps a lot of people as does using heat on the area after the first few days. Another great way to ease your pain is to keep active by performing low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or riding a stationary bike or an elliptical.
If you work at a desk or stand a lot be aware of your posture. When walking make sure that you are wearing good walking shoes and practice proper posture.
If you have not yet had a bout of sciatica the best thing to do to avoid it in the future is stay active with regular exercise and to strengthen your core muscles.