The key to tackling sciatica pain through exercise is to first discover the source of discomfort. Sciatic nerve compression is either caused by a dysfunctional structure in the lower spine or by piriformis syndrome, pinching from a deep muscle in the buttocks. Patients can try a variety of different exercises that target the specific root of their symptoms in an effort to avoid more serious treatment methods like a lumbar laminectomy or other spinal decompression surgery.
When pain is caused by a constriction in the lower back, activities that gently stretch the hamstrings are often the first line of defense. Loosening the muscles located in the back of the thighs allows the region in the lumbar spine to open up and release the compressed nerve.
- The wall hamstring stretch is performed by lying on one’s back at the corner of a wall with one leg resting perpendicular to the floor and against the wall. The other leg lies along the adjoining wall flat on the floor, and the exercise is then completed on the alternate side.
- Chair stretches are also an effective way to gently relax the hamstrings. The activity can be done by resting one leg at a time on the seat of a chair while standing upright and allowing the muscle to slowly stretch.
- Yoga is an ancient practice that, when guided by an experienced, professional instructor, can help people find relief with its specialized poses.
Unlike true sciatica where the pain originates in the lumbar spine, the discomfort experienced in piriformis syndrome is due muscular nerve compression. Exercises that focus on releasing the contracted muscle can help individuals experience relief.
- The Supine stretch is accomplished by lying flat on one’s back and pulling the leg of the affected side so that it crosses over the opposite leg with both knees bent. The lower knee is then slowly brought up toward the top of the body until resistance is felt.
- The sitting stretch is performed by sitting on the floor with the knees bent with the leg of the affected side crossed over the opposite leg and the ankle resting just above the knee.
If you’ve been experiencing sciatic nerve pain and would like to learn more about your treatment options, call The Spine Institute at (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation with an experienced spine surgeon in Beverly Hills. Your path to a pain-free life begins here.