There’s nothing more painful and uncomfortable than a pinched sciatic nerve. People with this condition experience mild to moderate pain in their lower backs, buttocks, legs, and feet. When the pain becomes severe, they may even find it almost impossible to move or walk. Experts highly recommend stretching as one of the best exercises for sciatic nerve pain.
What exactly is sciatica, and how do you know if you have it? Keep reading for everything you need to know about it, the best stretches for sciatic nerve pain, and some fast facts about sciatica.
WHAT IS SCIATICA AND ITS SYMPTOMS?
Sciatica happens when the sciatic nerve gets irritated and causes a sharp, shooting, or burning pain. This sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in your body, running through your lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs. It can also branch out into other nerves in the feet.
You will begin to notice sciatic nerve pain when there is pressure or damage to the sciatic nerve. This can happen because of underlying conditions such as a slipped herniated disk, tumors, or a pelvic injury. However, not all specific events can lead to sciatica. Sometimes, certain jobs can lead to sciatic nerve pain.
Contrary to what many people believe, not all leg pain is sciatica. Your legs can hurt for plenty of other reasons, such as muscle strains or irritating a different nerve. Pain that radiates through your lower back and legs is a true symptom of sciatica. You will also feel it run through your buttocks and down the back of your leg.
Some people may also notice numbing sensations and or weak legs. It’s important to note if you have pain that gets worse when you move. In rare cases, sciatica can also cause cauda equina syndrome, which is the inability to control your bowels and bladder.
WHO IS MOST AT RISK OF GETTING SCIATICA?
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing sciatica. There is a chance you could get this painful condition if you fall in one of the following categories:
- Have a weak core
- Have poor posture
- Have conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis
- Smoke regularly
- Have a physically demanding job
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE TISSUES?
You might be wondering exactly what’s going on with the tissues as we stretch them. These exercises do the following:
Strengthens the Muscles
A lot of sciatic nerve pain exercises strengthen the muscles in your lower back. Performing these moves can increase proper engagement of the muscles and reduce muscle fatigue. Stronger muscles can better support the spine and improve its stability. You can finally kiss poor posture and back pain goodbye!
Improves Bone Health
Sciatic nerve exercises can not only improve muscle strength, but it can also improve bone health. These moves increase bone density and make them stronger. You’re less likely to develop bone diseases like osteoporosis, arthritis, or Paget’s disease of bone, which can trigger sciatic pain.
Reduces Sciatic Nerve Stiffness
Nerve stretching and mobilization exercises can help maintain nutrient glow between the sciatic nerve and its surrounding tissues. This results in increased flexibility, reduced nerve swelling, and even a stronger immune system. If sciatic nerve stiffness is an issue for you, some of these stretches and exercises may help to improve it.
Increases Blood Flow
These sciatic nerve exercises can help enhance blood flow to the spine’s muscles, nerves, and other soft tissues. As a result, these areas will receive a much better supply of nutrients, which helps to promote healing and relieve stiffness.
Nourishes Spinal Disc
Having an unhealthy spinal disc can cause pain! These work by swelling with essential nutrients and water then squeezing them all out. Performing these sciatic nerve exercises can help nourish the spinal disc so it can continue distributing nutrients.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT SCIATICA!
To better understand the cause of your sciatic pain and to learn more, here are some fast facts about this condition.
It Can Change the Way You Walk
To cope with sciatic nerve pain in the legs, some people adjust the way they walk. This can lead to antalgic gait, which is an abnormal pattern of walking that can lead to a limp. If you feel like you have to change your stride to cope with sciatica pain, you should try the stretches we mentioned or visit a doctor.
It’s Defined by Several Symptoms
Did you know sciatica is not a medical diagnosis? It’s actually defined by symptoms caused by an underlying medical condition! The pain, numbness, or tingling sensation you feel in your leg happens when the sciatic nerve is injured or has pressure.
Other Conditions Have Similar Symptoms
Sometimes, people with diabetes can have shooting leg pain which can mimic sciatica-like pain. Diabetic nerve pain is different from sciatica, as it usually begins in your feet, and sciatica starts in your lower back. Other conditions can cause people to feel pain similar to sciatica, including pelvic muscle spasm, a broken hip bone, or arthritic hip joint.
Pain Usually Happens on Only One Side of the Body
Even though there are two sciatic nerves on each side of the body, only one side of the body is generally affected by pain. This is because compression on the nerve tissue can only occur on one side of the sciatic nerve. It rarely affects both sides of the body and causes sciatica symptoms.
Staying Active is Better Than Resting
Contrary to what most people believe, being inactive will NOT help relieve sciatic nerve pain. In fact, you should be more active if you want to reduce any pain you’re experiencing. Stretching and exercising can nourish your spinal discs and improve your sciatic nerve’s flexibility. These are key to getting both immediate and long–term relief.
Most Cases Resolve in About Six Weeks
Fortunately, there is usually a good response to sciatica treatment. You may get relief in four to six weeks with medical treatment, stretching, and exercising.
Men Experience it More Than Women
Men are at a higher risk of developing sciatica than women. They can experience it up to three times more than women! The risk increases the taller and heavier you are as well. According to Penn Medicine, men between the ages of 30 and 50 are most likely to have sciatica.
It Does Not Always Require Surgery
There are plenty of cases where treatment is not needed for sciatica and where recovery occurs on its own. As previously mentioned, most sciatica cases resolve in about six weeks. Only in rare instances when a person is feeling weakness, numbness, or unbearable pain can surgery help.
It Can Be Prevented
Staying active, having good posture, and using proper form during some activities can make a difference when it comes to sciatic nerve pain. By regularly performing the stretching exercises, you’ll start strengthening the muscles in your abdomen and back, which can prevent sciatica from reoccurring.
WHERE CAN I GO TO DO THE BEST EXERCISES FOR SCIATIC PAIN?
So, what is the best exercise for sciatic pain? To put it simply, it’s stretching! Our team at StretchZone is happy to help relieve you of pesky sciatic nerve pain once and for all. Experience its benefits by booking your free 30-minute appointment at Stretch Zone.