Wellbeing Wednesday

Dealing with sciatic nerve pain

Some of my clients experience pain, tingling, throbbing, burning or numbness going down the leg from the lower back.  It’s usually on one side but can sometimes be both and it can often be debilitating.

What is the sciatic nerve?

It’s the longest and largest spinal nerve in the body.  It starts at the back of the pelvis (the sacrum) and runs under the buttock through the hip area and down the leg to the foot.

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Tight lower back muscles can place stress on your nerve roots by pinching or irritating them.  It can often be caused by a sedentary lifestyle.  But there are many things you can do to bring relief.  I’m going to look at massage and yoga stretches although there are many other options like acupuncture, pilates, ice and heat, topical preparations and other gentle exercises to name a few.

Easy self-massage tips

  1. Palm and thumb – Place your palms on your lower back and rub the pelvic area towards the spine and down towards the buttocks.  Use the heal of your hands to apply pressure. Repeat until tension has eased.

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  1. Tennis Ball – Place one or two tennis balls in a sock. Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place the balls behind you. Gradually recline backwards by supporting yourself with your arms behind you. You could even lie on the floor. Position the balls on the sore area of the lower back/buttock and keep it there for one minute which should help to release some tension. Move the balls to any other sore areas before rolling onto your side and resting.    

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  1. Knuckles – Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.  Make fists with each hand and place them on the left and right of your back.  Position your fists so your palms are face down and your knuckles are against your back.  Fists should be between the spine and lower back muscles. Rest in this position for one minute.  Then move onto your side and rest before getting up. You could also do this in a seated position with a straight back.

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Seeing a Holistic Therapist

A regular massage will help to ease the tight muscles around the lower back by stretching and loosening them.  It encourages the release of ‘pain-fighting’ endorphins providing some relief from symptoms and will also help you to relax.

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Easy yoga stretches

Regular stretching can really help bring relief from symptoms.  I practice yoga at home and at a fantastic class each week and it definitely helps to alleviate tight, tense or aching muscles and has certainly eased sciatic pain when I have had it in the past.  There are many benefits to incorporating yoga into your life.

Here are three really effective sciatic stretches:

  1. Piriformis stretch

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  1. Seated hip stretch

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  1. Pigeon pose

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Try to hold each stretch for one minute before resting. If you are not used to doing physical activity I would suggest you seek advice from your GP first before performing these stretches purely as a precaution.

Next week I’ll be looking at cramp, why we might experience it and how we can deal with it.

Wishing you all a great week.

Nicola

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