Sciatica can be draining and debilitating, sapping energy from everyday life with its pain. Here are some sciatica exercises for pain relief that can fit into even the busiest of schedules. But first, let’s define sciatica and talk about how a chiropractor can help fine-tune these exercises to best suit you.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to pain due to a pinched, impinged, or damaged sciatic nerve As one of the largest nerves in the body, it starts at near the bottom of the spinal cord and spreads out across your hips, buttocks, and both legs.
Any impingement of the sciatic nerve can translate easily as pain across much of your lower body. It may show up as tension or tightness in your lower back muscles, lower right back pain, lower left back pain, or even thigh or calf pain.
What are some possible sciatica causes?
Sciatica can be caused by several ailments, including:
- Scoliosis, or spinal curvature
- Herniated disc or a slipped or ruptured spinal disc
- Sports injury or general injury in the lower back or hip
- Spinal stenosis, or a narrowing of the spinal column due to spinal birth defects, a naturally narrow spinal cord, age, scoliosis, or tumors
How can a chiropractor help me?
A chiropractor can help you fine-tune the following sciatica exercises to suit your individual sciatica.
Additionally, a chiropractor can help diagnose the root cause of your sciatica and develop a much safer, more comprehensive sciatica treatment plan. They can monitor your progress, caution against specific movements or exercises, and help treat or prevent any concurrent or subsequent issues.
Here are some quick exercises a chiropractor might prescribe for sciatica pain relief.
1. Wide-angle forward fold
Take your feet out slightly wider than hip’s width apart. Keep your spine as straight as possible as you hinge forward and reach towards the floor. Remember, it’s more important to keep your legs straight than to touch the floor or go super far into the stretch.
Spend 20 seconds reaching toward the middle, then lean over and reach for your right leg. Spend 20 seconds there, then 20 seconds reaching for your left leg.
You will probably feel this in the backs of your legs—your hamstrings—which can help release the tension in your legs, which will, in turn, create a little more space in your back. Spending time in the middle and reaching towards each side can help you relieve some of the tension you might feel in your hips, legs, and buttocks.
2. Seated spinal twist
This is a fairly intuitive stretch that can help relieve tension in lower back muscles, particularly toward the side as it joins your hips, as well as the sides of your leg.
Sit on the floor or another firm surface, keeping your spine straight. Stretch your left leg out in front of you along the floor. Next, bend your right leg into your chest, keeping your right foot on the floor and next to your left upper leg. If you want a slightly deeper stretch, you can place your right foot on the outside of your left thigh.
Hook your left arm over your right knee and twist as far to the right as you can, twisting and lengthening your spine simultaneously. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
3. Sitting hamstring stretch
Sit down on a firm but padded surface—a mat or a carpet will do just fine. Stretch one leg out in front of you while you bend the other leg in at an angle. Take a moment to intentionally lengthen your spine and then hinge forward from the hips, keeping the spine as straight as possible.
It’s tempting to bend the extended leg while you reach for your foot, round your back or neck, or yank yourself forward. Resist the temptation. Instead, remember that it’s better to keep a straight extended leg and lengthened spine than touch your toes or fold in half.
Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds, a minute if possible. Be patient and perform this stretch regularly, and you will see progress.
If you or a loved one is suffering from sciatica pain, contact Michigan Chiropractic Specialists, a team of chiropractors serving in several locations around the Detroit area. Fill out our online contact form today and begin your journey to a pain-free life.