Friday, August 19, 2011

5 Effective Exercises for Sciatica Pain

Leg Lifts
To increase the muscles in your core and lower abdominals, perform leg lifts three times a week. Lay face-up on the floor with one leg bent and the other leg flat on the floor. Flex your lower stomach muscles and slowly raise your straight leg until it reaches 8 to 12 inches from the floor, holding your leg for eight to 10 seconds then relax and lower your leg. Keep your lower back pressed flat into the floor. As your muscles build, work up to completing two sets of 10 leg lifts.
Press Up Extension Exercise
A common cause of sciatic pain is a herniated or slipped disc that presses against or compresses a nerve root. This causes a radiating pain along the sciatic nerve to the lower leg. Extension exercises or backward bending stretches are normally recommended for this type of sciatic pain. To perform a press up stretch, place your lower back into an extension by lying on your stomach and lifting your upper body from the floor using your elbows. Your hips should remain in contact with the floor. Hold the press up position for 5 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times and gradually increase the duration of the press up to 30 seconds. Your spine specialist may recommend an advanced form of this extension after practicing the press up. To perform this exercise, lay flat on your stomach and use both hands as opposed to your elbow to press up from the floor. Your hips should remain in contact with the floor while performing this stretch. Keep your buttocks and lower back relaxed. Hold this position for 1 second and repeat it 10 times.
Isthmic Spondylolisthesis Stretches
If your lumber spine 5, or L5, nerve root is affected from isthmic spondylolisthesis leading to sciatic nerve pain, a combination of flexion and stabilization stretches are best. A pelvic tilt exercise is often recommended in treating this type of sciatica since it uses back flexion followed by stabilization of the flexed area. Lie flat on your back, and then bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Contract your abdominals to keep your back flat as you raise your hips off the floor. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds and perform about 10 repetitions
Seated Piriformis Stretch
The piriformis muscle is a large muscle in your buttocks that is usually responsible, to a certain extent, for sciatic pain. According to authors Larry P. Credit, Sharon G. Hartunian and Margaret Nowak in their book, "Relieving Sciatica: Everything You Need to Know about Using Complementary Medicine," sciatic pain can be caused when your piriformis muscle becomes inflamed and presses against the sciatic nerve. This stretch helps to alleviate this type of sciatic nerve pain. Sit in a chair with your right calf muscle crossed over your left thigh. Rest your hands on your thighs and lean forward. Switch legs and repeat the stretch on the opposite leg.
Cat Stretch
The cat stretch alleviates sciatic nerve pain by stretching your back, lengthening your spine and helping to improve your posture, according to authors Credit, Hartunian and Nowak. Come on to your hands and knees. Keep your arms in line with your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Inhale and tilt your pelvis up toward the ceiling. Drop your chest to the floor and bring your shoulder blades together. Look up at the ceiling. Hold this pose for several breaths, then exhale and round your spine, dropping your head and looking at your knees. Hold this pose for a few seconds, then release.