Published: 05/30/2015 - Updated: 04/01/2017
Author: Miriam Reyes
Sciatic nerve pain can quickly advance from a slight bother to an incapacitating pain. It can prevent you from doing your normal daily activities. Analgesics are sometimes sufficient for controlling or removing pain, but in the majority of cases, the pain could last for several days, and even return with more force.
Exercises can help alleviate sciatic nerve pain and can prevent it from returning. In a lot of cases, however, this pain will return if you do not make any changes.
Rest or Exercise
Rest often times seems like the best alternative because the pain can be so intense at times that it even prevents walking or doing certain activities. Appropriate exercises, however, are truly more beneficial than rest because they help to strengthen muscles and alleviate pain.
Rest can become problematic because as the back grows weak, the pain will intensify. Exercise helps prevent pain and promotes better posture.
Sciatic Nerve Pain
The sciatic nerve exits the lumbar spine, and some factors can create pressure or irritation on the area, creating pain. Poor posture, carrying heavy objects, or even bad shoes can cause pain.
The pain is generally quite characteristic, spreading from the lower back to the glutes, the opposite leg, and sometimes it even affects the feet and toes. The pain could become more intense in certain postures, and can even be present while resting.
You should consider other possible causes of sciatic nerve pain, like tumors, infections or injuries, which is why you need to get an appropriate diagnosis in order to choose the exercise and treatments that are best for you.
Exercise for Toning the Back
Strengthening back muscles is a good idea for improving and preventing sciatic nerve pain. We recommend starting with a mild activity, doing just a few reps, and always trying to listen to your body for any discomfort or pain.
We recommend exercising daily if your pain is not too severe. If the pain worsens or does not improve, we recommend stopping your exercises while also consulting a doctor to know which exercises to do according to what is causing your pain.
Knee Bend to Chest
- Lay down face up on a firm, but soft surface, like an exercise mat. Support your head on a pillow or cushion.
- Bend your legs, pointing your knees towards the ceiling. Gently spread your legs hip distance apart.
- Bend your knees towards you, hugging them against your chest without pushing too firmly. Hold for 20 seconds.
- Return your bent leg to starting position, and repeat the process with the opposite leg.
- Repeat 3 times with each leg, then relax.
- Try not to tense your shoulders or neck. Look towards the ceiling, if this is more comfortable, with your head resting on a pillow.
- Start laying down on your stomach.
- Raise your torso, supporting yourself on your forearms. Stretch out, pulling your neck and shoulders back.
- Lengthen your neck without bending it. Feels how your back and abdomen stretch as well, and always remember to stop if you experience any discomfort, and respect your own rhythm.
- Hold the position for 5 seconds, then return to your forearms, then once again to your stomach. Do 8 to 10 reps.
- Try not to bend your neck backwards. Always keep it stretched out, and avoid lifting your hips off the floor while doing these exercises.
- Stand with a straight back, your arms by your side.
- Lift your leg as if taking a step. You can use a bench or a piece of furniture to support yourself. Keep pointing your toes toward the ceiling.
- Hold the position for 20 seconds, and relax. Return to your starting position.
- Avoid arching your back during this exercise.
Over time, this exercise routine can help reduce pain, and prevent future problems with sciatic nerve pain. We do recommend including other beneficial exercises, however.
Yoga helps improve back flexibility, while also toning muscles. It also helps the body relax, which can be useful for preventing tension and fighting the effects of stress.
Exercises like swimming or aquatics are also highly recommendable, as they strengthen back muscles.
You should be cautious while performing any sort of exercise or activity. Keep your own rhythm in mind, and start with less intensity so your body can tolerate it. We recommend following a routine even after having spent a lot of time with sciatic nerve pain, in order to keep your back healthy.
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