Sciatica pain occurs on the path of the sciatic nerve and can be dreadful to endure. The sciatic nerve is the longest in our body and branches from the lower back down to each leg.
It also passes through the buttocks and hips of the body. When you experience sciatica pain, it typically occurs only on one side of the body. However, rare cases have been recorded for pain on both sides.
Even though the pain from sciatica is outrageous, general cases can be treated without any surgery. These cases resolve in a few weeks. However, people that suffer from severe sciatica might have to go under surgery.
These cases are typically associated with significant leg weakness or bladder/bowel changes.
Pain radiating in the lower spine to your buttocks and down the back of the leg is a major symptom of sciatica. Discomfort along the pathway of the nerve is also part of the symptoms.
The pain you will experience can be different, whether mild, sharp or burning sensation. If you feel excruciating pain, it’s best to visit a doctor. Coughing, sneezing, or prolonged sitting can make the symptoms much worse.
People that suffer from sciatica can also have numbness or muscle weakness in the affected foot or leg. Additionally, they might experience numbness in one leg and pain in the other leg.
Causes & Risks
The cause of sciatica pain occurs from pinching the sciatic nerve by the herniated disk in the spine. It can also be pinched from an overgrowth of a bone spur on your vertebrae. Some rare occurrences have shown tumors compressing the nerve or diseases like diabetes damaging it.
The main risk factors for sciatica can be obesity, age-related changes, heavy work job, prolonged sitting, or diabetes.
We have about a 40% chance of experiencing sciatica pain in our lifetime.
Exercises That Relieve Sciatica
Luckily, some yoga exercises and stretches can soothe the pain and discomfort of this condition. These 9 exercises are very simple, so you don’t have to be a master in yoga to be able to do them. Here are the exercises that you should do:
- Knee raise – Start by lying on your back. Bring one knee up to the chest while the other leg needs to be straight on the ground. Make sure you press your raised leg to the chest as firmly as you can. Stay in this position for 30 seconds with your shoulders flat on the floor.
- Single leg twist – Start this exercise flat on your back with one knee folded over the other leg. The other leg needs to be held straight. Then, place the hand that’s closest to the knee on top of it and turn your upper body to face it in the opposite direction.
- Reclining big toe pose – For this exercise, you will need an elastic strap. However, if you don’t have one, you can use a thin towel, a belt, or a rope. Place the strap on the ball of the foot, straightening the leg towards the ceiling. Your toes need to be flexed towards you (not pointed). Your buttocks need to be firm on the floor. If you can’t keep your leg straight, make sure it’s as fully extended as you can. Over time, the flexibility of the leg will improve. When you finish with the exercise, bend the knee first and then lower it to the chest. After, straighten the leg to the floor.
- Standing back twist – All you need for this exercise is a chair or something that will help elevate your leg. When raising your foot, turn your body to the direction of the raised leg.
- Upright king pigeon pose – You can use a table or another hip-height surface for the exercise. Place your leg on the table and lean forward. Shuffle back with your other foot making the stretching more intense.
- Staff pose – Start sitting on the ground with your legs stretched and your palms flat next to you. Move your toes towards your body, keeping the heels on the ground and legs straight. Hold this pose for some time to stretch the hamstrings.
- Child pose – Sit down on your knees and drape yourself forward. Gently, stretch your arms in front of you.
- Standing hamstring stretches – Raise your leg at hip height or below, keeping your hips forward. Your toes need to point upwards. If you want to make this exercise harder, bend forward over the knee while keeping your back straight.
- Simple seated twist – Start the exercise by sitting on the floor with one leg folded over the other. Move the other leg back with the heel touching your buttocks. Rotate the body in the direction of your top leg. Try to maintain a straight back throughout the exercise.