The term, “sciatica” covers pain that is along the sciatic nerve path, which goes from your lower back, through the hips and backside and down each of your legs. Generally, it only affects one side of the body, per the Mayo Clinic.
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This condition occurs most often when a bone spur on the spine, a herniated disk or spine narrowing is compressing part of the nerve, which can cause pain, inflammation and sometimes numbness in the leg that is affected.
The pain from sciatica can be extreme, but certain exercises can help ease the condition and other back pain. Read on to discover nine techniques for tackling your back pain and sciatica today.
The Daily Set
- First, sit down on a hard surface, and then bend one leg while keeping the other in a horizontal position. Grab your bent leg and pull it towards your chest gently, from your knee to your hip. Keep this position for about ten seconds. Repeat the same motions with your other leg.
- For the next exercise, lie down in a horizontal position, and bend one knee at a 90-degree angle. Lift both legs up and down, starting from your toes and going toward your knees. Your thighs and hips should remain still. Do this exercise five times in a row.
- Staying in the laying position for this next exercise, bend one knee and grab it. Gently pull the knee toward your chest, leaving the other leg still. Keep this position for ten seconds, and then repeat the action with your other leg.
- Return to a sitting position for the final exercise in this set, putting both of your legs into a straight position. Bend your back and “catch” your toes with your fingers. Hold this position for ten seconds.
- Do this set of exercises at least once a day, and you should see back pain and sciatica improvement in just one week!
The Weekly Set
Start with the reclined pigeon exercise.
- Lying face down, bend your knees so that your heels are under them.
- Place your hands at the front of your thighs, and then slide them to the place where your leg meets the pelvis.
- Then push the heel of both hands into the bottom of your leg bone.
- Lift up your right leg and cross it over your left.
- With your back slightly curved, grab the back of the thighs and push your legs into the hands, going away from your face.
- Keep this position for several deep breaths, and repeat on your other side.
Next up is the low lunge.
- You need to start in a runner’s lunge position, which is with your right leg forward, with your knee over your ankle, and your left knee on the ground with your foot flat.
- Slowly lift your torso, and rest your hands lightly on your right thigh.
- Lean your hips just slightly forward, keeping the right knee behind the toes, and feel the stretch in the flexor of your left hip.
- Hold your position for at least 30 seconds, and repeat on your other side.
- For a deeper stretch, you can also raise your hands over your head, putting your biceps by your ears.
After the low lunge, you can try the pigeon.
- As with the low lunge, start off in the runner’s lunge position, with your right leg set forward, your right knee over your right ankle and your left leg straight.
- Move your right foot over and toward the left hand, and then drop your right shin and thigh to the ground, making sure your right knee stays in line with your right hip.
- Allow your left leg to stay on the floor, with the top of the left foot facing downward.
- Take a minute to square your hips toward the front of the room.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, and repeat on your other side.
- You should feel a moderate stretch on the outside of your right thigh, but if this position proves to be too uncomfortable or causes knee pain, remove it from your routine.
Add the “frog” next if your ankles and knees are in good shape and you need a deeper stretch for your inner thighs.
- Get down on the floor on all fours, with your palm on the floor and your knees on a mat or blanket.
- Slowly widen the knees until you feel a good but comfortable stretch in your inner thighs, making sure that the inside of your feet and calves stay in contact with the floor.
- Keep your ankles in line with the knees, and lower yourself down to your forearms.
- Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds.
For the final exercise in this set, you’ll need a foam roller.
- Keeping your feet flat on the ground, sit down on the foam roller.
- Lean your torso backwards, and place your right hand on the floor, moving your weight into your right hip and crossing your right ankle over your left thigh.
- Put your left hand on the left thigh, and use your supporting hand and foot to roll from the bottom of your glute muscles to your pelvic bone.
- Roll back and forth for at least 30 and up to 60 seconds.
- Do the above sets of exercises at least three times a week when you’re having a pain flare-up.
- When the pain subsides, do them at least once a week to help prevent it from coming back.
Quick Tips For Managing Pain
There are some other things you can try besides exercises to help ease your back and sciatica pain. The tips covered below can help you manage your discomfort on multiple fronts, giving you the best chance at a pain-free life.
Get A Massage
Massages can help with back pain and sciatica. A rub that focuses on the areas the sciatic nerve runs from, for example, can decrease inflammation and loosen tight muscles, because massage promotes blood circulation.
Go Hot And Cold
Apply ice to decrease nerve inflammation, and then immediately follow up with a heating pad. This will ease muscle tension and encourage the blood to flow to nerves and tense muscles in your back.
Over The Counter Pain Relievers
You don’t have to use strong medications to help a sciatica flare-up. Medicines such as ibuprofen and aspirin can ease inflammation and tension in your muscles. Topical ointments that contain menthol can also help when applied directly to the affected areas of your back, as menthol can help block your pain receptors and relax your muscles.
Add Back Support
Sitting all day long in a chair that’s not comfortable can make back pain and sciatica worse. Invest in a desk chair that provides balance and proper support. If that’s not possible, look for back supports that are designed to be used with your type of office chair.