What is Sciatica? 4 Best exercise to relieve pain instantly

by | Apr 19, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

What is Sciatica? 

People blame everything on sciatica when it comes down to radiating pain in the leg or even back pain. The sciatic nerve is the large nerve that runs from the top of the leg to the foot on the post aspect. The sciatic nerve is formed by the combination of 5 nerve roots from the lower lumbar to the upper sacrum, L4 L5 S1 S2, and S3. When one or more nerve roots on the lower lumbar to upper sacrum get compressed due to either herniated disc, bone spur, or narrowing of the spine, it causes radiating pain down to the leg depending on the location of nerve compression which is called sciatica. 

Tightness on the piriformis muscle can mimic the symptoms of sciatica as well. Piriformis is the small muscle that runs deep in the buttock area from sacrum to femur. The sciatic nerve runs under or through that muscle. When you have tightness in these muscles that compress the nerve that is called piriformis syndrome and cause similar symptoms to sciatica. Physical Therapists can perform specific tests to rule out piriformis syndrome. 

What are the symptoms? 

A very common symptom of sciatic pain is shooting pain from the buttock to the back of the thigh and leg. Mostly there is a pattern to the pain. Many people just experience excruciating pain only in the buttock and many feel pain radiating down to the whole back of the leg. 

Other symptoms are as follows 

Weakness on leg 

Pain on the back of the leg that is hard to pinpoint

Pain increase with long sitting or standing  

Burning, tingling, or numbness on the leg 

Burning pain, especially around the buttock area


How to prevent sciatica? 


Regular exercise and Stretching :

 Improving core stability will protect your spine, abdomen, and back muscles protect our spine. Regular exercise to strengthen those muscles helps to prevent any injury to the spine. Our body needs strong muscles to protect the spine and joint but also needs flexibility in muscles to improve mobility, that’s why stretching is also a very important part of the routine.

Better ergonomics:

 Ergonomics basically means arranging and modifying your workspace to fit your body’s needs. We spend ⅓ of our life at the workplace. Whether you are working on a computer or factory floor but a proper work environment and equipment can really help your back. One small wrong habit can lead to chronic back pain in the long run. For example, many people have a habit of leaning forward while typing on the computer as their chair is deep and not comfortable to lean back and type. So when you lean forward, your lumbar curvature flattens and increases pressure by 25% on the lumbar. Now think of this pressure for 8 hrs a day every day on your back. That can cause problems like sciatica. 

Understand your posture

Posture plays a big role in our life. Our habits of how we sit, stand, walk or sleep can affect our posture in long run. For example, when I drive my car, I rest my left leg against the door which causes pressure on the outer side of the knee and I m going to drive for many more years to come. So as I get older, I might start getting pain in my left knee. That pain does not happen overnight but due to bad habits so once I identify that I need to fix the proper posture. Another example is sitting on a chair in a slouch position all day long. That can cause back pain and posteriorly herniated disc over time. A physical therapist can really help to understand your posture and identify poor posture. We offer free postural assessment at our clinic. Understanding your posture can prevent your sciatic pain. 


Home remedies for sciatic pain


yes, it`s ok to exercise but it has to be gentle exercise and certain exercises that help to relieve pressure from the back. here are three simple exercises that helps with sciatic pain. 

Knee to chest: Begin lying on your back with your legs bent and feet resting on the ground. Place your hands around one thigh, then slowly pull your knee toward your chest until you feel a gentle stretch in your lower back. Make sure to keep your back relaxed during the stretch.

Pelvic tilting: Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Slowly tilt your pelvis forward, then tilt it back to neutral, and tilt it backward. Repeat these movements. Make sure to concentrate your movements only on your pelvis.

Sciatic nerve glide: Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grasp one leg behind your thigh and straighten that knee. Bend your foot down toward your body, then away toward the ceiling, keeping your leg straight. Repeat this movement. Make sure to keep your low back flat on the floor during the exercise.

Piriformis stretching: Begin lying on your back with both legs bent and your feet on the ground. Movement Lift one leg and place that ankle on your opposite knee, then apply gentle pressure to your bent knee with your hand. You should feel a stretch in your buttocks. Make sure to keep your low back flat on the floor during the stretch.

 These are some of the basic exercises but you should consult with your therapist for specific exercise to your need, these are for education purpose, and generic exercise, and should not do it if pain increase.

Ice and heat therapy :

 you can alternate ice and heat on the back, ice helps with inflammation, and heat helps to relax tight muscles on the back. Don`t forget to use a barrier between ice and a heat pack to protect the skin.

Proper posture and ergonomics: 

Avoid being in one position for a longer time. You can hold the phone without a stretch arm for short time but if you hold it for 20 mins, your arm will start getting tired. In so same way if you sit in one position for a long time, pressure build-up on the lower lumbar and can cause more sciatic pain. So avoid sitting in one position for a longer time. Keep proper position during sleep. If you have a habit of sleeping on your back, keep a pillow below your legs to flatten the back, if you have a habit of sleeping on the side, keep a pillow between your legs. If you are driving, change the backrest setting periodically to shift the weight on the back. 

These all are some of the basic instructions to relieve sciatic pain, Physical therapists can really help you with your sciatic pain and also teach you home exercise program and postural education to make sure you can manage your back pain in the future if you flare up sciatic pain. 


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