Sciatic nerve pain can be an excruciating condition to live with, and one that can have a substantial negative effect on your entire life. This pain comes about not because of one specific condition, but as a range of symptoms revolving around the irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve which can be caused by various reasons.
Regardless of the original cause, people with sciatica pain will feel pain in the lower back, buttocks, legs and even the feet. Doing proper and planned exercises is an important part of regaining your movement and minimizing your pain. The question is should you do sciatic nerve exercises?
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SCIATIC NERVE EXERCISES?
It can come as a surprise to many people that exercising is actually more beneficial for relieving your sciatica back pain than simply resting in bed. This is because inactivity often makes the pain worse as without regular movement, your spine and back muscles are not able to support your back as effectively as you lose muscle strength and flexibility. Regular movement also assists in the health of your spinal discs, to help stop them putting pressure on your sciatic nerve which is a common source of pain.
Short term pain relief is certainly one important benefit of doing these spinal exercises, whilst the other main benefit is that you are able to contribute greatly to the reduction in the possibility of any recurrence of your pain in the future. This is vital for being able to live a normal life well into old age.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
There are some exercises and stretches that you can undertake as you attempt to reduce your sciatic nerve back pain and to improve the flexibility of your back. It’s important to start out slowly and gently when attempting new movements, and to get your body used to each position as you do not want to push your back to the point where pain is experienced. It is important not to stretch or move beyond the point where you feel comfortable.
There are two general lower back exercise types that you should undertake: stretching and strengthening.
Stretching is the place to start for sciatica back pain relief exercises. Stretches allow you to target very specific muscles and areas of the back, so you are able to target the exact part of your back which are tight and painful and over time, increase flexibility and movement. Improving the flexibility of your lower back provides benefits that last for the rest of your life, provided you are committed to doing your stretches on a daily basis.
FIGURE 4 STRETCHES
Doing exercises that rotate the hip is often the best way to stretch to reduce sciatica pain. One highly recommended stretch involves laying down on your back with legs out straight, then lifting one leg up to a right angle, followed by your other leg where that ankle is placed against the top of the knee (so the inner side of your foot is directed towards your head). Only go as far as is comfortable, and rest in between movements. This movement is sometimes called the “figure 4 stretch”, because you are making a shape of the number four with your legs.
Strengthening your back muscles and spinal column is important, but you will find the best strengthening exercisers are also aimed at strengthening your abdominal muscles as well. This is because your entire core section (back and front) helps to support your spine and the health of your core will greatly determine just how much flexibility and movement you can undertake without increasing your chances of pain or injury.
Proper strength training exercises for your back and core section should generally be undertaken with a physical therapist or other professional, at least for your first attempt so that you receive the correct guidance and advice for your particular condition. Two of the best strength building exercises for people with sciatic nerve back pain are known as dynamic lumbar stabilization, and McKenzie exercises.
Once you have learned how to safely undertake these exercises and perform them regularly, your back strength will increase over time and thus, you will experience less pain and increased confidence when moving throughout your daily life.
It’s very important to make exercising a part of your daily routine as often as you possibly can. The most effective results will be seen if you are committed to doing your exercises everyday. This means setting time aside to really concentrate on your workout and making it an important priority each day. Many people will find that they gain even greater benefits from exercising twice each day, but this will depend upon your own condition.
Other types of simple and enjoyable exercise that you can do to compliment these movements include gentle walking and swimming, or other aquatic activities. Being in the water reduces the pressure on your spine and the rest of your body, and often allows for a greater ease of movement. This is why water based activity is often used as a major part of a physiotherapy regime.
It is always recommended that you seek medical advice before starting any new exercises or training regime, and to stop right away if you experience any pain or discomfort.