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The Best Types of Exercise to Combat Sciatica

Sciatica can ruin your day and leave you stiff and immobile. While extreme cases of sciatica can be severe enough to require surgery, in many cases, it’s possible to ease the pain and discomfort caused by sciatica with stretches and exercises you can do at home.

What is sciatica?

The sciatic nerve begins in your lower back and runs through each leg all the way to the sole of each foot. Sciatica describes the pain you feel when your sciatic nerve is injured, inflamed, or irritated.

The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated or slipped disk in your lower spine. Other factors that can contribute to sciatica include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Slipped disc
  • Pregnancy
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle imbalances
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Sedentary lifestyle

It’s uncommon to have sciatica on both sides of your body at the same time.

Best exercises for sciatica 

It’s important to note that only you and your doctor can know the extent of your sciatic nerve pain. You should consult with your doctor or physical therapist before engaging in any exercises or stretches. Here are some commonly recommended exercises and stretches that can alleviate your sciatica.

Hip stretch

This is also known as the pigeon pose, piriformis stretch, buttocks stretch, and gluteal stretch. Sitting normally, place one ankle on the opposite knee and lean forward slowly while trying to keep the shin of your raised leg as close to parallel to the floor as possible. This stretch is great for opening up your hips and glutes.

Knee to opposite shoulder

Bring your knee to your opposite shoulder or across your body and hold for a gentle stretch. This helps loosen your piriformis and gluteal muscles, which can tighten from sciatica.

Press-up exercise

This is also known as the cobra stretch or back extension. This is an easily controlled stretch that arcs your back, focusing on the muscles of your lower back.

Standing hamstring stretch

Sciatica tends to tense certain muscles. A standing hamstring stretch can help ease the tightness in the back of your thighs.

Core exercises

Abdominal and core exercises are often prescribed to alleviate lower back pain caused by sciatica.

Is exercise enough for sciatica?

In some cases, physical therapy is all you need to get relief from sciatica. However, it’s important to have a complete treatment plan that addresses the root cause of your sciatica. This can include any or all of the following:

  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Naturopathic medicine
  • Massage therapy
  • Trigger point injections
  • Acupuncture
  • Prescribed exercise routines

At Beeson Wellness Center in Portland, Oregon, we offer a multidisciplinary approach to treating your sciatica. Dr. Daniel Beeson has helped thousands of patients since starting his practice in 1974. Now with a full team of professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, and naturopathic doctors, Beeson Wellness Center can customize a wellness plan designed specifically for you.

To schedule a visit, call 971-762-1544 today.

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