Do you notice your back pain shoots down your leg, makes you lose your balance, or hurts in your hip and buttocks area? If so, your sciatica might be the problem.
Your sciatic nerve
spreads across most of your lower body. It starts at the lower back, travels down the hip area, and ends near the bottom of the leg. With that much of a “highway,” it’s no wonder people with sciatic pain seem to hurt everywhere!
Part of the reason your sciatic nerve hurts is usually because there’s too much pressure on it. When your cells are inflamed due to outside and inside influences, they push against the nerves and wake them up. It’s like this for all your nerves, but the sciatic’s reach is much further than the rest.
By strengthening your essential core muscles, you can reduce inflammation
and adjust the way different organs sit in your body. It won't be immediate, probably taking a couple of weeks, but with these tips, you can reduce your sciatic pain and resolve the problem altogether!
1. Use an Exercise Ball
Exercise balls — or, as they’re officially termed, stability balls — are frequently seen in home gyms and fitness centers. They’re popular because they’re so versatile, and you can use them for high- and low-impact workouts.
This piece of equipment is great for building balance, toning muscle, and enhancing your core strength. However, you should always talk to a professional certified trainer or physical therapist before trying these exercises on your own if you have spinal conditions.
When you’re ready to get started, try these two core-strengthening exercise ball techniques.
The Front Walkout
With this exercise, you lay on the ball with your chest touching it and your hands on the ground. Once you’re stable, try to walk your arms forward while the ball slides toward your feet.
Your back should remain flat. When the ball reaches your thighs, reverse the position and move the ball back toward your chest. Repeat this exercise five times.
The Back Walkout
This workout requires a little more balance, as you’ll start out in a sitting position on the ball. Keep your arms at your sides and your feet on the ground in front of you.
When you’re stable, start walking your feet forward while the ball rolls up your spine. Keep your lower back flat and your head facing forward. Try to move the ball until it’s at the middle of your back, then reverse your movements. Repeat five times.
You can adjust both of these exercises for an added challenge by moving the ball further down and up your body. The goal is to keep the back straight so that your core muscles get the bulk of the workout and your sciatic nerve isn’t doing much of the “heavy lifting.”
Pilates is an all-in-one core strengthening exercise that brings in movements to improve your balance, posture, and stability. You don’t need any special equipment to get started.
With Pilates, you learn how to properly use your body to make regular activities, like twisting, lifting, and bending, easier on your sciatic nerve.
Beginners to this type of exercise start off by learning how to breathe correctly. Yes, when done right, breathing is a workout! This exercise works the abdominals and respiratory muscles. All you need to do is lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your rib cage.
While you inhale through your nose, breathe into your hands, feeling the back of the rib cage expand. Exhale through your mouth, letting your rib cage move toward the floor. Breathe in and out slowly, doing the basic three-count for each inhalation and exhalation.
Once you master the slow breathing technique, you can move on to using your powerhouse (core) to reduce your sciatic pain through other low-impact Pilates movements
No time in your hectic day for a workout and no fancy equipment? You can still do planks!
As the name implies, the main target of this workout is to put your body in a flat, “plank” position. It’s free, and you can get a solid, full-body, core-strengthening workout in two minutes.
To complete the standard beginner plank, place your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders, keeping them slightly past shoulder width (almost in push-up position). Push your toes into the floor, using your glute muscles to hold your body in position.
Look at the floor slightly past your hands, holding your head aligned with your back. Keep that position for 20 seconds, working your way up to as long as you feel comfortable.
There are other planking techniques you can use to strengthen your core while making it easier on your joints (particularly your shoulders) and the rest of your body. As long as you can feel the stomach muscles working, it counts!
Sciatic pain can be mildly annoying or seriously intense. Whatever level yours is at, you don’t want it to get worse. Use these core strengthening exercises to reduce inflammation on the nerves and get rid of your back and hip pain!