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Home HEALTH 3 Sciatica Stretches to Relieve Low Back Pain and Discomfort

3 Sciatica Stretches to Relieve Low Back Pain and Discomfort

Your personal PT, Rachel Tavel, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) at Wellness shift in New York, so you know how to get your body back on track when it’s out of whack. Here, she gives you tips on how to feel better, get stronger, and train smarter.

LIVE AN ACTIVE Lifestyle is a priority for almost everyone, but getting up and moving isn’t always as easy as it seems. Beyond the challenge of fitting workouts into busy schedules and knowing exactly what you want to do, the body doesn’t always feel 100 percent ready to perform. Take back pain, a major problem for people from all walks of life. According to 2019 CDC Statistics39 percent of American adults reported experiencing back pain.

There are more than a few causes of this disease, some of the most common have to do with lifestyle: perhaps you spend too much time sitting or your posture is not correct. Low back pain, one of the most common remedies that physical therapists treat, can be due to these factors. Other causes have more defined origins, stemming from an inciting incident or injury. Sciatica, a commonly prescribed cause of back pain, is typically in the latter camp.

If you have sciatica pain (or think you do), you should first seek the help and guidance of a qualified medical professional, such as a physical therapist, to identify the problem and plan a path to recovery and pain control. However, once you’ve gotten past that point, there are options available to help ease the pain on your own at home. Here, we’ll discuss exactly what sciatica is, its origins, and some helpful stretches you can implement into your routine to help ease the pain and prepare you to live a more active lifestyle.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is, by definition, pain caused by compression of the sciatic nerve.

What is the sciatic nerve?

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and one of the most famous, for better or worse. This nerve emerges between the spinal segments of the lumbar spine and travels through the pelvis and down the legs, ending in the feet. It actually branches off into two separate nerves as it travels down the leg, the tibial nerve and the common peroneal nerve. But to keep it simple, we’ll refer to it as a nerve.

medical chart showing the signs and symptoms of sciatica

Stock Trek Images//fake images

What causes sciatica?

The sciatic nerve can be like a sleeping bear; it is quiet and won’t bother you unless you prod it. Once you touch the bear, which commonly happens with sudden bending and twisting movements like trying to lift something too heavy with poor body mechanics, that bear will start to roar. You don’t want to poke the bear. But if it does, don’t worry, there are things you can do to ease the pain.

Fibrous cartilaginous discs (think of this as a donut) and a gelatinous nucleus pulposus (think of this as the inside of a jelly doughnut) separate each vertebra and can be compressed, causing part of the disc to protrude into the spinal canal where the nerve roots are located. When this happens, pain is the result. (This would be the prick of the bear.)

back pain x-ray

peter dazeley//fake images

How does sciatica feel?

Sciatica pain is often described as “radiating” or “sudden” pain. It can be felt in a specific place and position (for example, sitting in a certain way, especially on a hard chair), or it can present as numbness or tingling in the lower extremity. The sensation usually affects one side of the body (and people will know which side is affected pretty quickly), but it can also switch back and forth depending on what’s actually going on in the spine. Nerve pain is sometimes accompanied by low back pain, but often people report that most symptoms are felt in the buttock, hip, leg, or foot.

How can sciatica be treated?

Bottom line: sciatica pain is no fun. You will want to put the bear to sleep. Fortunately, sciatica often resolves itself with the right exercises, stretches, and adjustments to body mechanics that can help push that bear back into its cave, so to speak, medically speaking, the disc back into space.

That said, as always, treatment depends on what is actually going on in your body, which requires proper individualized evaluation by a physical therapist and/or doctor. Many factors, such as age, medical history, and mechanism of injury (how you got hurt in the first place) can also help guide treatment.

Core stabilization, education on proper lifting and bending techniques, and probably some posture advice will certainly be an important part of treatment. But if you desperately need a stretch or two to reduce your symptoms, these stretches are a good place to start.

Stretches Stretches to help relieve pain

Piriformis Stretch

30 seconds of waiting 2 to 3 times a day

The sciatic nerve runs just below the piriformis muscle, so this is a key stretch for anyone experiencing sciatica symptoms.

This content is imported from youtube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may find more information on their website.

● Lie on your back with your knees bent.

● Cross the ankle on the affected side over the opposite knee so that it forms a “figure 4”.

● Take your hands behind your unaffected leg and gently bring your thigh closer to your chest, creating a stretch in the hip/buttock area on the affected side. Don’t worry if it’s stiff and sore at first – the pear-shaped piriformis muscle can become quite tight when the sciatic nerve is inflamed, so relax this stretch, breathe in, and try to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.

●Do this 2 to 3 times a day.

Knee to Opposite Shoulder Stretch

30 seconds of waiting 2 to 3 times a day

This content is imported from youtube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may find more information on their website.

2. Knee to Opposite Shoulder Stretch

see in the

●Lie on your back with your legs straight, slowly bend the knee on the affected side and hug the knee to your chest.

● Hold this stretch, then draw across your body to the opposite side to deepen the stretch. breathe

Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 2 to 3 times.

prone strut

5 retentions (up to 30 seconds) 1 or 2 times a day

In many cases, sciatica can arise due to a disc bulge or herniation that causes part of the disc to protrude into the spinal canal. In a young spine (one without stenosis) and a person who normally injures himself by bending, lifting, and twisting (although sitting all day in poor positions can cause similar symptoms), you’ll want to apply the McKenzie Method to help “centralize” the symptoms and promote the return of that disk to its space.

This content is imported from youtube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may find more information on their website.

McKenzie Extension Stretch for Lumbar Disc Injury | feats Tim Keeley | #5 | physiotherapy

see in the

this is a picture

One of the most important stretches to do is prone support.

● Lie on your stomach.

●While relaxing the muscles of your back and abdomen, use your arms to slowly push yourself up onto your forearms or hands (wherever you can get to with relative comfort).

●Hold this position for about 10 to 30 seconds, then lie down again.

●Try this for 5 retentions 1 to 2 times a day.

Symptoms should gradually reduce over several days. If they do not or if symptoms worsen, do not continue this exercise and seek treatment from a medical professional.

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