Sciatica is a term for the symptoms that result when the sciatic nerve becomes injured or irritated, resulting in pain down the back of the leg. Although this condition can be difficult to treat, yoga is often a way to get relief from the pain, numbness, tingling and weakness associated with this condition.
Because yoga poses gently stretch the body, they can help take pressure off compressed joints and muscles, which is the main cause of sciatica pain and discomfort. To address these symptoms, many patients turn to physical exercise, including the yoga poses described below.
Why does yoga help sciatica?
Sciatica is most often caused by degenerative conditions, like facet disease, spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis, that put pressure on the sciatic nerve or the nerves connected to it. These conditions are often worsened by poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle, high-impact activities and a lack of reinforcement from surrounding core muscles, which are the spine’s primary support system.
Yoga can help strengthen core muscles and improve posture, which might help in alleviating the symptoms of sciatica. Also, the increased blood and oxygen flow that results from yoga can decrease swelling and inflammation in the soft tissues of the spine while helping them flush out toxins and receive nutrients.
Starting a yoga plan for sciatica
Before starting any new exercise program, check with your doctor to make sure the activity is safe for you. If you are cleared to participate, make sure you work with an experienced yoga instructor, especially if you’ve never done yoga before. Also, if you are advised against using yoga for sciatica relief, your pain is severe enough to seriously impair your movement.
For people with sciatica, some yoga poses can make the condition worse. Try to avoid or modify the poses that require you to stretch your legs straight out in front of you, as well as the poses that involve deep bending from the waist.
These poses can result in further strain and, if performed incorrectly, can cause sciatica in people who did not have it previously. You should also avoid or stop any pose that causes you pain. Often, poses like passive back arch, downward facing dog, knee down twist and seated wide-legged straddle have been effective in providing patients with sciatica relief.
Surgical alternatives to yoga
If you have been diagnosed with sciatica and several weeks or months of yoga or other conservative treatments haven’t helped alleviate your symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our board-certified surgeons+ have helped thousands of patients with minimally invasive procedures that offer safer and effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery.^
At Laser Spine Institute, our muscle-sparing procedures use a small incision to relieve the pressure placed on the sciatic nerve, thereby easing the symptoms associated with this debilitating condition. To learn if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient surgery, reach out to our dedicated team today and ask for a free MRI review.* We can help guide you on your journey to wellness.