The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the body. It starts with five nerves in the lower back that come together to form a nerve that runs through the buttocks and down the leg. Inflammation of the sciatic nerve is called sciatica. It can cause a burning or stabbing pain in the buttocks, or a pain that goes down the whole leg. The pain usually only occurs on one side.
Sciatica is also known as lumbar radiculopathy. It can be caused by a bone spur on the spine or a herniated disc pressing on the nerve. Most people have some small spine abnormalities. Because of this, doctors don’t rely on imaging tests to diagnose sciatica. Instead, they can give you self-care instructions and suggest some exercises. Most of the time, these measures work.
Because sciatica pain is often intense, patients can assume that something is seriously wrong. In fact, about three out of four people improve in a few weeks. Exercising more and sitting less usually helps, and patients can take over-the-counter medications for pain relief.
Conservative treatment may not be the best option for patients whose pain has persisted for more than four months. Patients with long-lasting pain caused by a herniated disc can get better pain relief from back surgery.
Exercises against sciatica
Most of the exercises for sciatica are for the lower back. Before trying these exercises that you can do at home, ask your doctor:
This simple stretch targets the lower buttocks and thighs.
- Step 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Step 2: Bring one knee to your chest while keeping the other foot on the floor.
- Step 3: Keep your lower back pressed to the floor and hold for up to 30 seconds.
- Step 4: repeat on the other side.
Try 2 to 4 repetitions on each side. To make the exercise a little more difficult, keep one leg straight on the floor while you raise the other to your chest. You can also bring both knees to your chest.
Hamstring stretching while standing
Be careful with this exercise. Hold on to something if necessary and do not overstretch yourself.
- Step 1: Stand up straight and place one foot on a slightly higher surface, e.g. B. a step.
- Step 2: straighten your leg on the step and point your toes up.
- Step 3: Lean forward slightly while keeping your back straight.
- Step 4: hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t forget to breathe.
- Step 5: repeat with the other leg.
Try 2 to 3 repetitions on each leg.
Pelvic tilt exercise
This is another deceptively simple exercise that is good for sciatica.
- Step 1: Lie on your back with your legs bent and arms by your side.
- Step 2: contract your abdominal muscles, press your back into the floor and rock your hips and pelvis up slightly.
- Step 3: Hold this position while imagining your belly button touching your spine. Don’t forget to breathe.
- Step 4: Release after a few seconds. Then repeat.
Try 8 to 12 repetitions.
The glutes are a group of muscles in the buttocks. If they are tight, they can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Step 1: Lie on the floor with your knees bent. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart. Relax your arms by your sides.
- Step 2: Push through your heels and lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Step 3: Hold the position for a few seconds.
- Step 4: Slowly lower your hips to the floor. Then repeat.
Good form is important for this exercise. Avoid arching or curving the back. Try 2 or 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Lying deep buttocks stretch
If you lack the flexibility, you may need to modify this exercise a bit.
- Step 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Lift your right ankle and place it on your left knee.
- Step 2: With both hands, interlace your fingers behind your left thigh and gently pull it toward you, keeping your head and back on the floor.
- Step 3: hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Step 4: repeat with the other leg.
You may need to lift your head slightly with a book or a firm pillow underneath. If you cannot easily reach your thigh, you can wrap a towel around your thigh and use it to pull your thigh towards you. Do 2 to 3 repetitions on each leg.
Because sciatica has a variety of causes, one exercise program won’t work for everyone. Never force yourself to do an exercise that doesn’t feel right. Instead, focus on finding the ones that work for you. As you improve, you may be able to make some movements that didn’t work at first. Still, being consistent with your program is more important than increasing the level of difficulty.
If you have other health issues, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor before trying these exercises for sciatica. If you experience increased pain after exercising, see your doctor.