Sciatica is an irritation of the sciatic nerve.
According to Harvard Medical School, Sciatica is “one of the most common, yet misunderstood, types of pain. As many as 40% of people will get it during their life.”
The Sciatic nerve stems from nerve roots L4, L5, S1, S2, and S3. Together these nerves form the Sciatic nerve.
Most often the irritation comes from compression of the nerve at some point along its route. Two common areas where this compression can occur are a the spine from the discs/vertebrae, or from the piriformis muscles where the psoas goes under or near it.
Below are 3 easy exercises to help with sciatica.
1. Nerve glides: Lie on your back keeping one leg straight and the other leg bent. Bend and straighten your leg just to the point of starting to feel discomfort then bend again. Repeat 30x each leg. This movement increases and decreases tension the sciatic nerve. By doing that you help your nerve glide smoother in the sheath that surrounds it. The key is to find the point with just slight irritation to help it move but not irritate it further by pushing too much.
2. Rolling out piriformis: As mentioned above the sciatic nerve typically goes through the piriformis muscle. If this muscle becomes too tight it can irritate the sciatic nerve. One
way to decrease the tension in the piriformis muscle is by rolling out on a ball. Roll out 2-3 min a couple times a day until pain/tension reduces. Common balls to use are softballs, lacrosse balls, or tennis balls.
3. Repeated extension: Lie on your stomach. Push up with your elbow as far as you are able to, while keeping your hips on the floor. Come back down and repeat 3 sets of 10 repetitions. This can assist with “pushing” the disc back into place and therefore freeing up the nerve from any compression that may be occurring from the disc.
This is not medical advice. No content should be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Harvard Health. 2022. Sciatica: Of all the nerve – Harvard Health. [online] Available at: <https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/sciatica-of-all-the-nerve#:~:text=Sciatica%20is%20one%20of%20the,Jeffrey%20N.> [Accessed 10 March 2022].
Lewis, S., Jurak, J., Lee, C., Lewis, R. and Gest, T., 2016. Anatomical variations of the sciatic nerve, in relation to the piriformis muscle. Translational Research in Anatomy, 5, pp.15-19.
Phan, M. and Abitbol, J., 2022. Leading Causes of Sciatica and Sciatic Nerve Pain. [online] Spine Universe. Available at: <https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/sciatica/sciatica-causes> [Accessed 10 March 2022].