Friday, August 19, 2011

Effective Exercises for Sciatica Pain

Sciatic pain occurs when surrounding tissues -- muscles, tendons, ligaments or bone -- put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can be caused by a number of conditions, including degenerative disc disease, a bulging disc, or a tight piriformis muscle, so you should see a doctor to find a treatment for whatever is causing your sciatica. Once you know the cause, you can perform therapeutic exercises to relieve discomfort and prevent future flare-ups.

Herniated Disc
A bulging or herniated disc can cause sciatic pain if material protruding from the spine puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. Which exercises will help relieve this pain are largely dependent on the individual and what positions make him or her feel most comfortable. An exercise that puts the torso in flexion is often recommended to create more space between the spine and the sciatic nerve. A simple abdominal crunch can do this. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and slowly curl your spine off the mat from your neck to your middle back. Hold the position at the top for two seconds and then lower back down. Repeat 10 times.

Piriformis Syndrome
The piriformis is a small muscle in the hip that sits very close to the sciatic nerve. IF the muscle becomes tight or inflamed, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause sciatic pain. Stretches to relieve tightness in the piriformis will help to relieve and prevent this pain. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Pick up your right leg and place your right ankle across your left thigh just above the kneecap. Let the right knee fall out to the side and fold forward, bringing your chest down toward your right shin. Hold here for 30 seconds and switch sides.

Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease normally causes weakness in the lower back that leads to lower back pain; however it can sometimes put pressure on a nerve root causing sciatica. Pelvic tilts are a good way to discover a position that is comfortable for you during exercise and daily activities so you can retrain the body to hold that position. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Press your lower back into the mat and scoop the tailbone up toward the ceiling, engaging the lower abdominal muscles. Make small movements to adjust the position so it feels comfortable for you. Once you find that position, hold it for 30 seconds and release. Do two more sets, finding the same position each time.

Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis causes a narrowing of a nerve's passageway and results in sciatic pain. Pain is usually felt while walking and is often relieved by sitting down. This, exercises that bring the hips into flexion will be most helpful in relieving sciatic pain caused by spinal stenosis. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Lift your feet off the floor and draw your knees in toward your chest. Hold onto the backs of your thighs or the tops of your shins with your hands and gently pull your knees in closer to your chest. Hold here for 30 seconds and release.