If you’re one of the 40% of Americans that have suffered from sciatica, you’re familiar with the stabbing or burning pain that can radiate through the buttocks and all the way down through the leg. You also know you’d do anything to avoid experiencing that searing sensation. The condition can be debilitating, but with exercise as a recommended method for easing pain and maintaining mobility, how can you make sure you’re not causing more damage when you get moving?
Sciatica Is a Symptom
It’s important to understand that sciatica is not a diagnosis, but simply a set of symptoms indicating a bigger problem. In a study by the University Medical Center in Rotterdam, it was determined that over 90% of cases of sciatica are caused by a disc herniation with nerve root compression, and it’s the pressure on the nerve in the lower back that is causing symptoms like burning, stabbing, aching, prickling, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness further down, into the buttocks and leg. Some postures and positions may put additional torque or pressure on already compromised structures or nerves. Here are some exercises to avoid to stay safe and find relief:
- Abdominal stretches – Stretching out the abdominal muscles is an exercise that can exacerbate sciatica. Core stability is especially important if spinal or disc structures are compromised, and the abdominal muscles form the supportive “girdle” that maintains stability throughout the body. Instead, work on engaging the core muscles and using them for containment.
- Deep Hamstring Stretches – When symptoms of sciatica flare up, the hamstrings at the back of the thigh can be very sensitive because the sciatic nerve runs through them before branching into the lower leg. Stretching the hamstrings will inadvertently stretch the sciatic nerve, and can irritate the already inflamed tissue.
- Bent over rows – One exercise connected with worsening symptoms of sciatica is bent over rows. Because the posture maintained puts incredible pressure on the discs in the lower back, it can also increase the pressure on the nerves if they’re impinged. Seated rows can be a better option for building strength without the added risk.
- Weight Bearing Lower Body Exercises – Exercises like squats and dead-lifts can potentially be a cause of further damage to injured or weakened areas in the lower back that may already be resulting in symptoms of sciatica. Not only can the stance for these exercises increase pressure on the spine, they are usually performed with the addition of heavy weights, the strain of which can act to compress the spinal nerves and send pain through the buttocks and thigh.
Suffering from Sciatica Symptoms?
We offer a variety of treatment options to customize an approach that can effectively reduce inflammation of the sciatic nerve and eliminate your pain. If you’re experiencing the range of painful sensations typical of sciatica, rest assured that at Health Star Clinic you will find the treatment solutions needed to help you find relief. Schedule an appointment today.