The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that begins at the base of the spine and passes through the buttocks and continues down the back of the thigh and into the lower leg. This nerve can become compressed or inflamed. If this occurs, pain begins to travel down the back of your leg.
This pain is referred to as "sciatica." Sciatica can be caused by a bulging disc, arthritis of the spine, a tight piriformis muscle in your butt, and even by trigger points in your muscles. Depending on the cause and the severity, you could experience numbness, tingling, or weakness in the leg.
Strengthening the muscles of the lower back helps to reduce the symptoms of lower back and leg pain. While we may prefer bed rest to exercise when in pain, active sciatica exercise is a great mechanism for healing sciatic pain. Doctors may advise rest for just a day or two after a bout with sciatica, but inactivity only makes it worse. This is because the lack of movement causes the lower back muscles and spine to become even more cramped and unable to fully support the back, leading to further back injury and strain - which means more lower back and body pain. It's a vicious cycle.
Exercising keeps the fluids between the discs healthy and well lubricated and strengthens the muscles of the abdomen and back. Exercises for sciatica relief are varied, depending on the cause of the pain and the specific muscles involved. Engaging in regular exercise helps to keep these muscles flexible and strong. This helps to speed up the recovery process as well as preventing further recurrence.
Our FAVORITE tool for managing sciatica is massage therapy. Massage helps alleviate sciatic nerve pain in two ways: