Sciatic pain is widespread today and can occur for numerous reasons. The condition often surfaces from nothing and can hinder our ability to move, perform everyday activities, and enjoy sports.
In today’s post, we will take a look at what sciatic pain is, why it occurs, and what we can do to alleviate it.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Sciatic Pain?
Sciatic pain, also known as sciatica, is a discomfort people experience in the lower body. It can range from mild discomfort to excruciating pain that makes it difficult to get out of bed. According to some research, sciatica is relatively common, with up to 40 percent of people experiencing it in their lifetime.
The pain typically originates above the buttocks and radiates down the right leg. It can, however, affect the left leg or both limbs simultaneously.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica occurs due to an irritation of the sciatic nerve. The nerve originates from the lower back, goes beneath the buttock muscles, runs along the back of the leg, and ends at the foot. The area of discomfort and its severity will depend on the cause of irritation and where it occurs.
The most common causes of sciatica include a herniated or slipped disk. As a result, there is pressure on the sciatic nerve, leading to the condition. Other causes include narrowing the spine canal (spinal stenosis) and muscle spasms.
In some cases, the sciatic nerve becomes irritated when the piriformis muscle, which covers a large area of the buttocks, spasms and traps the nerve. The condition is known as piriformis syndrome.
What Can We Do If We Experience Sciatic Pain?
The best thing you can do if you experience sciatica is to take a breath and not panic. Not all cases occur because of spinal injuries, and many people overcome sciatica with relative ease. Of course, none of this is to say that sciatica can’t be serious, and it never hurts to seek professional help.
Luckily for us, several stretches can reduce sciatic pain thanks to their ability to lengthen the tissues around the nerve, freeing it up. Let’s take a look at two simple ones:
A. Forward Pigeon Pose
- Get down on your hands and knees.
- Bring your right leg forward, bend the knee, and place the outer side flat against the floor.
- Extend your left leg, place the knee and upper thigh on the floor, and support yourself on the toes.
- Bend your elbows to lower your torso to the floor while keeping your back neutral.
- Hold for as long as you can and switch legs, holding for the same length.
B. Knee to Shoulder Stretch
- Lay an exercise mat on the floor and lie down with your legs straight and arms to your sides.
- Bend your right knee and grab it with both hands.
- Pull the knee gently up and across your torso in the direction of your left shoulder.
- Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds and release.
- Bend your opposite knee, grab it, and pull it in the opposite direction, holding the position for the same period.