Friday, August 19, 2011

Effective Sciatica Stretches

The sciatic nerve begins in the lower back and branches through the hips and buttocks and ends in the back of both legs. Sciatic pain is usually caused by a herniated disc, piriformis syndrome or a pinched nerve. It may feel like a slightly burning or tingling sensation down the legs or a sharp radiating pain that travels from your lower back to your legs. Stretching and extension exercises reduce compression at the nerve root, strengthen and increase flexibility of back muscles, and reduce nerve pain.
Wind-Relieving Pose
The wind-relieving pose is a yoga posture that helps sciatica by reducing pressure on your lower back and stretching your spine. Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms relaxed by your sides. Exhale as you bring your left knee into your chest. Wrap your arms around the shin and raise your forehead to the knee. Breathe and hold the stretch for 15 seconds, then release. Repeat this stretch on your right leg.
Piriformis Syndrome Stretches
Piriformis syndrome is often mistaken for sciatica, but the source of it is different than sciatica as it does not involve a disc causing impingement or irritation of the nerve root. The Piriformis muscle tightens, irritating the sciatic nerve and creating pain, numbness, weakness or burning from the buttocks to the foot. Sitting upright in a chair with your feet on the floor, raise the affected leg toward your body, turning it so your lower leg from your knee to ankle are parallel with your body. Gently pull that leg toward your body to feel a stretch in the affected buttocks.
Curl Ups
Curl ups are classified strengthening exercise for the upper abdominal muscles. This exercise helps prevent recurrent sciatic pain due to a herniated disc. To perform this exercise, lie flat on your back with both arms folded across your chest and knees bent. Initiate a curl up by lifting your head and shoulders off the floor. This is position for 2 to 3 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
Lower Back Stretch
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a stretching program may work well when combined with strengthening exercises for relieving sciatica. A good way to stretch your lower back is to lay on the floor, face up. Bring one leg up while the other remains flat on the floor and wrap your arms around your knee, gently pulling it to your chest. Hold for 20 seconds, while stretching your lower back.
Partial Sit-Ups
These should be performed at least three times a week to help strengthen the abdominal and core muscles. Perform eight to 10 sit-ups, using control throughout the exercise. Lie face-up on the floor with your knees bent and your lower back pressed flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest. Raise your shoulders three to six inches from the floor, flexing your abdominal muscles throughout the move. Exhale as you lift your shoulders up. Pause at the top of the movement and then inhale as you return your shoulders to the floor.