Sciatica is a pain in the back side…….literally!
I myself had sciatica for a while last year. I would run around a football field looking like Bambi with my wobbly leg. It would sometimes feel as though my leg was going to give way and if I went for a slide tackle and dragged my leg then I would experience a sharp pain.
I was training for a 1000 mile cycle challenge last year and lacked power through my left leg along with a pain in my lower back. I would cover up the pain using a tens machine and copious amounts of deep heat.
Most people would take time away from exercise however I just tried to live with it. It started to cause too many issues and it was time to do something about it.
First let me tell you what Sciatica is and the symptoms you may experience yourself.
What is Sciatica?
It is the name used to describe symptoms of pain in the back, buttock, and leg. You may experience a tingling sensation, numbness, or a weakness in your leg. The pain originates from the lower back where the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed.
It is the largest single nerve in the body that starts at your lower back, through the buttock and down each leg. People tend to experience issues with one leg and it is very rare to have sciatica down both legs at one time.
- Pain in one side of the buttock or leg
- A pain that is worse when sitting
- A burning, tingling, or searing pain in the leg
- Weakness in the leg
- Numbness in the leg
- A sharp pain making it difficult to move freely
- A pain that travels down one leg and in extreme cases all the way down to the toes.
The severity of sciatica can vary from infrequent to constant, irritating to excruciating, with symptoms being based on the area of the pinched nerve.
Sciatica is a common problem in many of us at some point in our lives and there is no official cause due to the varying degrees of sciatica that people experience. It is mainly common in middle age people as your discs become less flexible.
Treatment For Sciatica
- Chiropractor – A chiropractor can make spinal adjustments and manual manipulation to provide you with a better spinal column alignment.
- Acupuncture – This type of treatment opens the flow of energy through specific pathways in the body with the insertion of thin needles near the area of pain
- Massage – A good massage may be all that is needed in some cases. This form of treatment will increase blood circulation, relax muscles, and release tension. This should then take pressure off the sciatic nerve.
- Anti Inflammatory Tablets – An anti inflammatory can be used to reduce inflammation that is usually part of the cause of pain.
- Strengthening Exercises – Many exercises can help strengthen the muscles to allow greater support of the spinal column.
- Stretches – Stretching will help ease pain due to tight muscles and a lack of flexibility.
For me, stretching and strengthening is a must for treating sciatica. It is also a great way to prevent the problem from occurring in the future.
What Strengthening Exercise Should I Do?
Plank – A plank is a great core exercise to strengthen your core.
- Lie down facing the floor. Place your elbows directly below your shoulders with your forearms on the floor.
- Place your feet hip width apart and raise on to your toes.
- Draw your stomach muscles in and engage your core ensuring you are straight from your shoulders through your hips and to the ankles.
- You should be able to feel this exercise on both your lower back and your stomach muscles.
- For added intensity, focus on squeezing/tensing your buttocks and quadriceps.
Straight Leg Deadlift – This exercise will strengthen your lower back, buttocks, and hamstrings.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart
- Take a pronated grip of the barbell (overhand grip) with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart
- Keeping your legs straight with soft knees, bend from the hips so you push your buttocks back and then bend from your waist until your upper body is parallel with the floor
- Return the movement to bring your upper body upright
Glute Kickbacks – An isolation exercise for your buttocks
- To begin this exercise; start off with your knees on the floor in a kneeling push-up position
- Raise your right leg until your hamstrings are parallel with your back maintaining the 90-degree level squeezing your glutes throughout the movement
- Hold this position for a few seconds and return back to the starting position followed by alternating the exercises with the other leg
- Repeat this exercise for as many repetitions as needed
What Stretches Do I Need To Do?
- Lie flat on the floor
- Bend both knees so your feet are flat on the floor
- Hug one knee and pull it in towards your chest
- Hold in this position for 30 seconds
- Lie flat on the floor
- Wrap a towel or resistance band under one foot
- Keeping the leg extended with a slight bend in the knee
- Pull the foot in the air
- Hold for 30 seconds
Overall, Sciatica is a common issue. The final thing I would say with regards to Sciatica is that if you keep mobile, avoid sitting down for too long, and stretch off then it will make a big difference. Also focus on your posture to ensure you are holding your body in the correct position.
If you do experience any issues then hopefully you know what do to and possible ways of treating it.