Sciatica is a fairly common condition affecting anywhere from 10% to 40% of the population. This condition is especially prevalent among pregnant women. If you suffer from sciatic nerve pain, then you understand exactly how this condition can dampen your quality of life. Luckily, only the most extreme cases of sciatica require serious medical intervention! In many cases, the condition can be alleviated with the right exercises that target sciatic nerve pain, namely, assisted stretches.
Before we explain how our team at Stretch Zone can alleviate your sciatic nerve pain, it’s helpful to understand a little bit more about the condition.
The Sciatic Nerve
The sciatic nerve is at the cross point of five different nerve roots in the lower spine. This nerve is the largest in the body. It runs down your back, weaving its way through the muscular tissues of the buttock, down the thigh, all the way to your feet. However, a nerve of such importance is fairly susceptible to numerous health issues.
Sciatica Pain and Its Effect on Mental Health
Sciatica is a term referring to any neurological symptom that relates to or originates from the sciatic nerve. Although sciatica itself can be categorized as a symptom, you can identify the condition by its usual indicators. A common red flag is pain radiating from the buttocks, down your back, or lower leg.
Sciatica pain ranges from mild or dull aches to sharp pains and burning sensations. Oftentimes, sciatica can feel debilitating, limiting your ability to walk and move. Also, this pain can often be aggravated by coughing or prolonged sitting.
This pain is often constant, and the sharp aches tend to linger. Having to constantly adjust yourself to be comfortable and having to avoid your favorite activities makes sciatica as much a psychological problem as it is a physical illness. Finding relief will do more than just improve your comfort levels – it will relieve the stress on your mind you might not even realize you’re carrying and eliminate the depression that comes with not being able to do your favorite hobbies.
What Causes Sciatica?
Pain in the sciatic nerve is usually a result of pinching the nerve or other spine-related issues like overgrown bones or herniated disks and even the imbalance that comes with pregnancy. Sciatica is common in people with jobs that require them to sit for prolonged periods of time because the spine is forced into an unnatural position. Age and obesity also increase the risk of developing sciatic nerve pain.
Treating Sciatica with the Power of Stretching
Why Does Stretching Work?
Sciatica is a difficult condition. When you are feeling the nagging pain, moving becomes uncomfortable, and some day, you may not want to leave the bed. Though this is understandable, not moving only can lead to worsening the condition and not getting exercise adds to the mental strain. When your muscles are not getting enough movement, they can shorten and weaken. Furthermore, this may lead to more pain and decreased mobility.
Stretches for sciatic nerve pain are great for combating the condition and improving your mental health! They alleviate several illnesses associated with sciatica. For starters, stretching releases pent up tension and tightness in the muscles. This tension tends to aggravate pain and limit mobility.
Stretching also helps strengthen your muscles and improve the durability of your joints. Two factors that can easily degrade when you are suffering from sciatica. By reinforcing the muscles that surround your joints, you are helping prevent damage caused by reflexive contractions triggered by pain.
In short, stretching makes your muscles stronger and more flexible. This is essential to staying mobile through pain and as you age, as well as normalizing the way you feel to avoid stress, both physical and psychological.
How is Assisted Stretching Superior?
Stretching in general is ideal for any muscular or nerve-related pain. However, assisted stretching comes with several benefits you simply won’t get on your own.
The first thing is the barrier to entry. Stretching seems simple, but there’s a lot more to it than we see on the surface. There’s a lot of working parts in how your joints and muscles move and interact with the rest of your body.
Not everyone is well-informed on how to get the most out of their stretches. If you are new to the game, you may not know where to start. A professional will know what movements are best for your unique situation and how you can get the most out of your stretching. Furthermore, they will know how to create beneficial pressure while avoiding injury.
Another benefit of assisted stretching is what you can get out of it. Your muscles have a natural reflex called ‘tonus’ which kicks in when your muscles think they are getting stretched too far. This is a valuable reflex because it prevents injury. However, it can also keep you from those deeper, more beneficial stretches. With a trained professional, you can go deep while feeling secure.
Finally, assisted stretching is personalized, which is especially important for people with certain pain sensitives or pregnant women. Pregnancy can be delicate, and we can help you identify the safest stretches to maximize benefits and minimize risks.
When you come to StretchZone, the work is entirely off your hands. When you lay down and let our expertly trained stretch professionals do the work, your body disengages, and the natural tension is released. This allows us to push your body further, reaching those beneficial deeper stretches that can make your muscles more flexible, stronger, and heal faster.
Which Stretches Are Most Beneficial for Sciatic Nerve Pain?
Knee Chest Stretch
This is an excellent exercise for sciatic nerve pain because it helps relieve tension from your lower back and it’s fairly simple. Another benefit of this stretch is that it doesn’t require too much straining.
You will start by laying back on one of our specially designed tables. The stretch therapist will then ask you to raise your knee as close to your chest as you can while keeping your hands by your sides. They will then take a hold of your leg and apply gentle pressure to get your knee as close to your chest as possible. You will hold this position for about ten seconds before switching legs and repeating on each side a few times.
Back extensions help stabilize the muscles in your abdomen while elongating your back. This movement increases both flexibility and strength while releasing the tension caused by sciatica.
For this stretch, you will lay face down on the table with your elbows bent by your sides and your forearms resting on the table. You will be asked to keep your neck straight while looking downwards. This should create an arch on your back.
The position alone is enough to create a release. However, our stretch practitioners will likely use a roller or similar device to further smooth out tense muscles and release tightness on your mid and lower back.
Lower Trunk Rotations
This movement is perfect for increasing mobility both on your lower back and hips. This is important because much of the movement in your back comes from how far your hips can move.
In this movement, you will be asked to lay on your back with your knees bent and together while your feet are flat on the table. With your hands by your side, you will be asked to slowly drop both knees to one side. At this point one of our practitioners with slowly push down on your knees while checking in to make sure you’re not feeling any sharp pressure. With all these movements it’s important to keep in mind that pressure is good, pain is not.
Supine twists are one of the most effective ways to release tightness through the entire length of your back. Although the focus is on your neck and mid to lower back, once the movement is done, you will feel the difference all over.
You will start by laying on our table with your legs outstretched and your arms stretched straight out to the side and away from your chest. Your body should be forming a ‘T’ formation.
You will then be asked to fold your knees and place your feet on the table. Next, you will drop your knees to the right while your head turns to the left. At this point, our stretch therapist will gently push on your legs to deepen the stretch while reminding you to take deep slow breaths, followed by equally slow exhalations.
Assisted Hamstring Stretches
Sciatic nerve exercises often focus on your legs because the sciatic nerve runs down the length of your hamstrings and all the way to your heels. Hamstrings already carry a lot of tension for people who sit at work all day. This often leads to an inability to fully outstretch your leg which makes walking more difficult over time. Combine this with the pain from sciatica, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Hamstring stretches help regain the flexibility on your legs and alleviate pain. These stretches for sciatic nerve pain are quite simple.
You will be asked to lay on our table with your arms by your sides and legs outstretched with your toes pointed to the ceiling. Next, you will be asked to raise one leg as much as you can. At this point, one of our stretch therapists will take a hold of your foot and ask you to keep your leg as straight as you can. They will then push your leg until it’s straight and over your knee.
You should feel a warm sensation behind our knee and down the back of your thigh–this is your hamstring getting the work it needs.
Assisted Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is an awesome resting position you can do at home to alleviate lower-back pressure. But when you add professional and specialized equipment, the benefits of this position grow exponentially.
First, you will have to come to your knees. Then, slowly sitting back on your heels, bending your body at the hips with the back of your feet flat on the floor or table. You should let your entire body relax and your head hang heavy as your hands extend by your side.
At this point, your shoulders should be melting over your legs and as you breathe you should let your entire body relax. Then one of our therapists will either use their hand or specialized equipment to put pressure on your lower back and all the way up to your neck.
Figure 4 Hip Stretch
The figure 4 hip stretch is a great multi-purpose exercise for sciatic nerve pain that helps release different muscles and joints. Not only will this stretch help release lower back tension, but it is also excellent for improving hip flexibility by stretching your hip abductor (the group of muscles that sit on your outer hip). Furthermore, you will also feel a mild hamstring stretch.
First, you will lay back on our stretch tables with your knees bent and your feet flat on the table. Next, you will lift your right leg and place your right ankle at the point at which your left thigh meets your knee.
You should be able to lift your left leg and grab onto the thigh or shin and pull both legs (now in a figure-4 position) towards your chest. Your back and head should remain flat on the table. Then your stretch practitioner will help push your legs further into your chest while you breathe slowly and feel the mild pressure of the stretch.
Inner Thigh Stretches with Forward Folds
When you feel a sharp pain in your lower back, your body naturally compensates by shifting weight and tension to other parts of your body. Without realizing it, your posture and movements begin to change, and muscles start to contract. For that reason, stretching should focus on bringing back balance to your body.
Stretching your inner thighs can lower back pain while simultaneously improving the way your legs move through painful episodes.
For this exercise, you will be asked to sit up with your back straight and legs outstretched. Then you will be asked to spread your legs as far as you can. At this point our stretch therapist will ask you to slowly lean forward, leaning with your chest as your arms extend ahead.
The key to this movement is keeping your back as straight as possible. When you have reached as far as your body allows, the therapist will provide an additional push to help increase your flexibility.
Need Stretches for Sciatic Nerve Pain?
No one should live with debilitating back pain, especially when there is a solution. At Stretch Zone, our focus is to improve your overall well-being by providing assisted stretches that improve your flexibility, strength, reduce your discomfort, and enhance your mental health. If you’re ready to try us out and experience a difference you can feel in both body and mind, give us a call and ask about a free 30-minute stretch!