Sciatica nerve pain prevention and exercises for pain relief

By: Devon Andre | Exercise | Thursday, March 03, 2016 - 03:30 PM

Sciatica nerve pain prevention and exercises for pain relief

Sciatica nerve pain, or sciatica leg pain, occurs when a person experiences feelings of numbness or tingling, which begins in the lower back region through the buttocks and runs down the leg – the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica nerve pain is a symptom related to an underlying condition that affects the sciatica nerve. Conditions that can lead to sciatica nerve pain are a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis.

Fortunately, physical therapy and exercises can help relive sciatica nerve pain and improve the condition by increasing strength through stretching and aerobic techniques.

Sciatica nerve pain stretches

Sciatica nerve pain stretches aim to target the muscles that lead to pain. These muscles are often tight and inflexible, so stretching can loosen the tightness and minimize pain.

Stretching the hamstring is best when dealing with sciatica nerve pain as the sciatic nerve runs through the hamstring – this is the area behind the quadriceps, underneath your buttocks.

Here are some examples of sciatica nerve pain stretches:

Towel hamstring stretch: Lay on your back with a towel wrapped around your thigh. With your leg up in the air and your hands grasping the towel, begin to straighten the knee until a stretch is felt at the back of the thigh. Hold the position for 10 seconds and gradually begin to increase the duration of the hold over time.

Wall hamstring stretch: Once again, lay on the floor with your buttocks up against a wall. With one leg stretched out in front and the other up against the wall, push the knee straight until a stretch is felt.

Hamstring stretch while sitting: Sit at the edge of a chair and have one leg straight out in front of you with your heel on the floor, toes pointing upward. Sit up straight while pushing your navel towards your thigh without actually leaning over. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times for each leg.

Sciatica exercises

Exercising for sciatica nerve pain has been found to be more effective than simply staying in bed. Strengthening and low aerobic exercises should be your go-to, as they offer the most relief from sciatica nerve pain.

Strengthening exercises should work to strengthen the spinal column and the supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This includes targeting the lower back, abdomen, glutes, and hip muscles.

Low aerobic exercises consist of walking, swimming, and pool therapies. They aim to increase fluid and nutrient exchange in order to promote a healthy environment for healing. Furthermore, low aerobic exercises work as a natural painkiller, as exercise has been shown to help alleviate pain by increasing endorphins in the body.

Speak to your physical therapist or trainer with regards to appropriate exercises to help strengthen your muscles in order to reduce sciatica nerve pain.

Other tips to relieve sciatica nerve pain

 Along with stretches and exercises, there are other home remedies you can utilize in order to alleviate sciatica nerve pain. Other tips to improve sciatica nerve pain include:

  • Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
  • Apply hot and cold packs
  • Wear a supporting lower back brace
  • Get proper sleep
  • Try yoga
  • Quit smoking – smokers have higher incidences of back pain
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Practice maintaining proper posture
  • Ensure you lift and carry objects properly
  • If you are on a long driving trip or flight, ensure you take plenty of moments to move around as much as possible, i.e., make stops, get up from your seat

By practicing these tips as well, you can help improve sciatica nerve pain and prevent future injury.

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