Exercises to Relieve Sciatica and Low Back Pain

Back pain and sciatic nerve pain are issues that affect millions of people worldwide and are the number one cause of job disability.

The issue is prevalent in the United States, where 8 out of 10 people suffers from such pains and is the main cause of painkiller addiction. Opioid drugs are the first line of treatment for back pain and are the leading cause of fatal drug overdoses.

Back pain, combined with anxiety and depression, drastically increases the risk of drug abuse. The first thing one should do in order to relieve the pain in the body is to find the trigger.

Yet, note that lower back pain can be triggered days or weeks before the initial discomfort, and rarely suspected triggers include sex, fatigue, distractions while performing physical tasks, alcohol consumption, obesity, sports injuries, poor posture, stress, and inactivity.

In most cases, back pain resolves on its own within 2-4 weeks, but you can significantly speed up the recovery in a natural way. As soon as you feel the pain striking, relax the back and the mind, and apply ice to the area.

Try to address your emotions, and relieve stress, as the central nervous system records any pain that lasts more than a few minutes at the neuronal level, and the pain might persist even when the injury is fully healed.

On the other hand, sciatic nerve pain is linked to degenerated or herniated discs or spinal issues like stenosis. According to QPain:

“The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and runs from the lower back, through the buttock and down the back of each leg.

Sciatic pain usually occurs in different locations depending on where the nerve is compressed and varies for each patient – from infrequent and irritating to constant and incapacitating.

Sciatica can cause multiple symptoms including lower back or hip pain; burning, tingling or weakness in the leg; shooting pain in the leg or foot, and occasionally more serious symptoms such as numbness of the upper thighs or lack of bladder and bowel control.”

It can be dramatically reduced by stretching exercises, such as

  1. Pigeon Pose
  2. Piriformis stretch
  3. Seated hip stretch
  4. Self-trigger point therapy using a tennis ball or foam roller

The video below also illustrates a simple one-minute daily stretching routine8 that can help reduce sciatic pain stemming from an overly tight piriformis muscle in your buttocks.

Sciatica can be treated with the help of alternative methods, as well, and these are the most effective ones:

-- Yoga-- Yoga is another effective way to treat sciatica and relieve its symptoms

-- Acupuncture-- A dozen acupuncture treatments will soothe the pain and other symptoms due to sciatic nerve pain

-- Pilates-- It will soothe the pain, improve balance, and lower the risk of injuries

-- Chiropractic care-- Such treatments three times a week provide significant relief in only 4 weeks.

-- Topical preparations-- Anti-inflammatory oils such as cayenne pepper cream relieve the pain in the area

-- Trigger points therapy-- It applies pressure on the Piriformis, glutes, and lower back muscles, and releases the tension and irritation in the area

Moreover, to avoid pain, you need to maintain a proper body posture and avoid long periods of sitting.

While standing will initially cause pain, it will improve the condition after some time. Sitting for one consecutive hour is too long, according to researchers, as actually, sitting should break up your movement during the day.

Normally, it is much better to prevent back pain, instead of treating it. Here are some helpful tips which lead to a pain-free life:

-- Mind the posture-- Avoid sitting down for many hours during the day, and while standing, spread the weight evenly on the feet, to avoid too much pressure on the back muscles. Pay attention to the spine when lifting or carrying some heavy objects.

-- Physical activity and exercise boost the spine muscles, improve the strength, flexibility, and balance of the body, and strengthen the core muscles.

-- Stay hydrated-- You need to drink plenty of water during the day in order to improve the height of your intervertebral disks and prevent stiffness.

-- Vitamin D and K2-- In order to strengthen the bones, make sure you optimize the levels of these vitamins in the body.

-- Relieve stress-- Pain is believed to be emotional and psychological in origin, meaning that you should address psychological factors that might lead to such issues.

-- Quit smoking-- This detrimental habit lowers the blood flow to the lower spine and thus lead to degeneration of the spinal discs.

-- Grounding-- This practice will fight inflammation, strengthen the feet and arches, and prevent back pain. It boosts the immune system and increases the levels of antioxidants in the body.

-- Sleep well-- Insufficient sleep leads to back and neck issues. Moreover, the position in which you sleep is also very important. Lower the curving of the pine, and stretch before getting out of bed.

-- K-Laser therapy-- This therapy fights inflammation, lowers pain, and stimulates the healing of tissues. It improves microcirculation, by boosting red blood cell flow in the treatment area.

Teresa Dews, MD, Vice Chair, Department of Pain Management, and Division Chair Pain Management, Department of Anesthesiology, Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital adds:

“ -- Use good body mechanics. Pay attention to how you sit, stand and lift. Try to keep your back straight and your shoulders back. When sitting, keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Don’t over-reach, and avoid twisting movements. When lifting, bend your knees and use your strong leg muscles to help balance the load.

--    Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight is associated with increased inflammation and pain in different parts of the body. Diet choices that contribute to weight gain and obesity are also associated with more inflammation and poorer health status.

--    Pick sports with care. Choose activities and sports that don’t place your lower back at risk of injury. Swimming, walking, and biking are good options.

--    Practice safety measures to help prevent falls. This includes wearing shoes that fit properly and keeping stairs and walkways free of clutter.

--    Be a defensive driver. Don’t text and drive and watch out for other impaired drivers on the road.”