Exercises for Sciatica Relief
“Sciatica” is the common term for the pain, numbness and other symptoms caused when a sciatic nerve root is pinched or has pressure exerted to it by a bulging disc, bone spur, or other spinal injury or abnormality. Sciatica can cause intense pain, which may increase with standing and sitting postures.
People who experience sciatica may find that it is resistant to drug therapy, or that drugs may control the pain only for a short amount of time. For those whose sciatica does not respond to drug therapy, exercises that specifically target the condition can provide relief and may even stop the sciatica altogether.
To be effective, your sciatica exercise routine should be performed daily and should be progressive; that is, you should start with about five minutes a day and gradually work up to 20 to 30 minutes. Different conditions can cause sciatica – such as a bulging disc or bone spur – and there are different exercises for each condition. So, if you haven’t had a formal diagnosis to determine the exact cause of your sciatica, you may want to do so prior to adopting a sciatica exercise routine. Either way, you should check with your physician before starting to make sure that the routine is right for you.
Below is a sampling of the different types of exercises that can be effective for different causes of sciatica.
When sciatica is caused by a bulging or herniated disc, exercises that incorporate extension and backwards leaning are often prescribed. You may want to try this simple exercise to begin with:
- Lie flat on your stomach on the floor. Carefully prop your upper body up on your elbows to lengthen your spine in a gentle stretch. Keep your hips flat on the floor.
- Since this position may be difficult to hold at first, start by trying to hold the position for five seconds. Eventually, you should be able to tolerate the position for as long as 30 seconds without adverse effects.
Exercises that address sciatica caused by degenerative disc disease generally focus on lumbar (lower back) stabilization. The eventual goal of these exercises is for the body to learn to maintain correct lumbar position, even when in motion. Here’s a good beginning exercise for relieving sciatica caused by degenerative disc disease:* Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Slowly raise your buttocks off the floor. Hold for approximately 10 seconds before slowly lowering back onto the floor.
If conservative treatments such as sciatica exercises and pilates do not significantly reduce your back pain, contact Laser Spine Institute for more information on our advanced outpatient procedures that have helped tens of thousands of people find relief from back pain.