The nerve that travels from your lower back, down your legs, and all the way to your feet is called your sciatic nerve. If something puts pressure on that nerve — such as a bulging or herniated disc, arthritis, or a dysfunctional joint — the pain be excruciating and debilitating. Up to 40% of adults in the US have experienced sciatica at some point in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health. The good news is that relief may be just a few stretches away.
When your sciatica becomes unbearable, our expert doctors here at Modern Concepts in Fort Mill, South Carolina, can help you reclaim your pain-free life through treatments that include chiropractic care, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and even injections. Because they believe the best course of action is always to begin with the simplest, least-invasive treatment first, here are a few activities they suggest you try at home to relieve your sciatica pain.
Stretch it outOne of the best ways to reduce your pain is to stretch the muscles in the sciatic region. Whatever stretches you can do to open up your hips and rotate them gently can help, particularly those that engage the gluteal muscles, your hamstrings, or your piriformis.
Your piriformis muscle is the small muscle that comes into play when you rotate or flex your hip, and it’s very close to your sciatic nerve. If this muscle becomes tight or inflamed — called piriformis syndrome — it can cause pressure on your nerve, leaving you in pain.
A good way to relax it and reduce the pressure is to open your hip joint out with a targeted stretch position. Here is just one of the many stretches you can try.
The leg lift:
- Lie on the floor on your back.
- Lift your right leg up until it’s at a right angle. Wrap your hands behind your thigh to help.
- Bend your left leg.
- Put your right ankle on your left knee.
- Hold that stretch for a moment or two.
- Repeat with the other side.
Create spinal spaceWhen your vertebrae are compressed, usually from bulging or herniated discs, you may experience severe sciatica pain. By creating more space in your spine, you can relieve that pressure and pain.
A good way to open up some room in your spine:
- Sit on the floor; legs straight.
- Bend your right leg and place your foot on the floor outside your left leg.
- Put your elbow on the outside of your bent knee and slowly rotate your body toward the right.
- Repeat on the other side.
Take up yogaWhen you have sciatica pain, the last thing you want to do is move. Everything seems to make the pain worse. Ironically, movement is often the best thing for you. Especially yoga. The gentle, controlled movements can bring much-needed pain relief, regardless of the source.
If piriformis syndrome is causing your sciatica, yoga stretches and poses can be the cure you’ve been looking for. Try pigeon variations, cow face variations, and prone reverse calm poses.
Sleep wellBedtime can be a nightmare for sciatica sufferers. If you find it hard to sleep at night because of your sciatica pain, it may be your mattress’s fault. It’s important to invest in a bed that offers you a balance of support and comfort.
Here are some important features to keep in mind when choosing the best bed for your sciatica:
- Medium firmness: If your mattress is too soft, it doesn’t give you the support you need; you’ll sink in during the night and wake up in pain.
- Comfort and contour: A mattress that conforms to your body will reduce the stress on your spine and hips.
- Side support: It’s important that the edges of your bed are firm enough to support you as you get in and out.
Pay attention to postureWhile proper posture won’t cure your sciatica, bad posture can make it worse. Your spine is designed to curve gently in the seated position, but when you sit for hours at a time, you tend to slouch and change that ideal position. That puts extra pressure on the spine and aggravates sciatica.
Here are some simple things you can do to keep your posture from adding to your pain:
- Use a chair with good lumbar support
- Roll a small towel and place it behind you when you sit or drive.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor, and don’t cross your legs.
- Get up and walk around frequently.
Whichever tip you try to reduce your sciatica pain, it’s always best to check in with our doctors here at Modern Concepts first to make sure the activity you choose is safe for you. Call us today or click our “Book Online” button to schedule an appointment.