What is sciatica?
Sciatica is pain resulting from compression or inflammation of the sciatic nerve (the longest in the body). This nerve runs from the lumbar spine to both legs, which means the pain can often radiate from the lower back and buttocks to the foot. It can be the result of a structural problem in the lower back, such as a herniated disc compressing the nerve, but often no specific cause is found. The pain can range from bothersome to severely debilitating and symptoms include lower back pain, pulling, tingling or burning pain as well as numbness and cramping from the buttocks to the thigh. You may also feel weakness in the leg and tingling. For some people it keeps them from working and for others it can come and go.
Factors that can trigger and worsen symptoms
- Muscle imbalances
- Herniated discs
- Vertebral misalignment
- Tense piriformis muscles
- Bad position
- spinal stenosis
- bone spurs
- New or old injuries
How Pilates and the Right Exercises Can Help
I would always recommend that you consult your doctor or a medical professional initially. They may be able to identify the cause and recommend appropriate treatment options.
In most cases Pilates will be recommended and with the help of an experienced Pilates instructor you can learn how to gently release tight areas and work on correcting muscle imbalances that have built up over time. The good shooting of the muscles will also be worked, especially around the pelvis. Pilates exercises and stretches should be controlled and gradual for sciatic pain relief. Exercises such as the L1 scissors, gentle little bridges, and single leg stretch alongside lower back, quadriceps, and glute stretches are all excellent.
However, there are still a few exercises to avoid as not all exercises are suitable for people with sciatica and I would recommend avoiding any exercise that stretches the hamstrings, such as a downward dog, hamstring stretches or single leg full circles. It’s also advised not to overload with double leg kicks, do full-body deep squats, rotary stretches, or participate in high-impact sports that might involve jarring movements.
To minimize and prevent sciatica
- Build strong muscles as this will provide excellent support for the spine and sciatic nerves. When the spine and discs have the proper stability needed, there will be less injury and nerve irritation.
- Maintain good posture to protect yourself from putting more pressure on herniated discs and compression on the nerve reducing sciatic pain. A combination of correct posture and the right exercise will give you faster pain relief.
- Avoid wearing high heels.
- Avoid driving or sitting too long.
- Practice regular exercises, including Pilates and stretching, to have a better chance of recovering from sciatica. This will help build the muscles in the spine and strengthen the sciatic nerves by reducing pain and aggravation of them and stretching will help relieve pressure on the nerve.
- Reduce stress levels.
- Take care of your muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments with the right minerals, vitamins and nutrients.
Sciatica can be both irritating and painful, but the good news is that you can improve your sciatica condition by adopting a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and using the right exercises recommended by your doctor or healthcare professional. . It’s important that you find an experienced and knowledgeable Pilates instructor to guide you to the right exercises and to make sure you avoid those that could make symptoms worse.