Sciatica is often thought of as a medical condition, but it’s actually a symptom of an underlying condition. But, no matter if it’s a condition or symptom, the pain felt by those with sciatica is often unbearable.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which extends from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica commonly occurs when part of the sciatic nerve is compressed, often from a spinal condition such as spinal stenosis, a herniated disc or other disorders.
Sciatica can occur suddenly due to an injury or develop gradually. As you grow older, you may experience disc degeneration or spinal stenosis, which will increase your chances of developing sciatic pain.
Where Do You Feel Sciatica Pain?
Sciatic pain can vary from infrequent to constant. For many, certain activities, including sitting, exacerbate the pain. Sciatic pain typically affects only one side of the lower body. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Constant pain in only one side of the leg, buttock or hip
- Pain that feels better when lying down or walking
- Sharp, searing pain
- A “pins and needles” sensation or prickling sensation that runs down the leg
- Weakness or numbness when moving the affected leg or foot
Some people may experience lower back pain, but the discomfort is minimal when compared to the sharp sciatic pain.
If you are looking for any type of sciatica relief, there are some sciatica exercises you can complete to provide a reprieve from the aches and pains.
Best Exercises for Sciatic Pain Relief
Sciatica exercises may seem counterintuitive, especially when most people find sciatica relief through laying down. It is important for those with sciatica to rest when their pain flares up, but after some time, exercising can help strengthen the back and core, thus providing some sciatica relief.
First, make sure you speak with your doctor before you try any new sciatica exercises. If any of these exercises cause pain, you should stop them immediately.
Prone Arm/Leg Raises
Lie on your stomach with your face down, keeping the neck in line with your legs straight and arms outstretched overhead. Slowly raise and lower your right arm and right leg at the same time. Complete the move with your left leg and arm. Complete five repetitions for each side.
Get on the ground on all fours with your hands flat on the floor. Your back and neck should be in a neutral position. Slowly tighten your abdominals and round your back toward the ceiling, similar to a cat stretching. Hold your back in the rounded position for 5 seconds, then release and return to a neutral position. Repeat this 3 times.
Knees to Chest
Lie with your back flat on the ground and knees bent. Grab your left hamstring with both hands and slowly bring your knee toward your chest. Hold this for five seconds and then slowly bring your knee back to its original position. Repeat with your right leg. Complete 5 repetitions per leg.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sit on the edge of a chair and straighten one left in front of you with the heel of your foot on the floor. Keeping your back straight, lean forward just one small degree. You should feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times for each leg.
Though sciatica exercises can help strengthen your back and core, you can also find sciatica relief through low-impact aerobic exercises like walking.