Solving the Problem of Sciatica

by pilates32 on February 18, 2012

If you have ever experienced the symptoms known as Sciatica, you will be aware of the pain and inconvenience that it can cause. It is literally; a real pain in the butt. Sciatica is the term used to describe the symptoms of a nerve pinch, leg pain, numbness or tingling, originating in the lower back. The uncomfortable feelings can travel down into our buttocks and down the large Sciatic nerve in the back of the leg. I use the word symptom, because Sciatica is not actually a diagnosis, it is the symptoms or signs of the real problem; a pinching or amount of pressure applied to the nerve.

For some people, Sciatica leaves them unable to move as they’d like and even to the extent of being signed off work. The sharp pain running down the leg makes it difficult to stand or walk. My experience of it has not been so bad, but rather an annoying, agitating pain in my hips and gluteals that isn’t too easy to get rid of. If you are experiencing Sciatica, it is good to know that Pilates can certainly ease the pain and in some cases completely alleviate the problem.

The Sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. Starting in the lumbar region of the spine, it branches off into all areas of the hips, butt and all the muscles of the legs as it travels down to the extremities. Let me just say at this point; many severe cases of Sciatica can be caused from serious injuries or spinal problems such as a herniated disc. I am not means a doctor or in any place to solve, recommend or even comment on this level of severity. But for those of you experiencing numbness and tingling due to tight hips (in particular the piriformis muscle), increasing mobility and flexibility with the use of Pilates can dramatically reduce these symptoms and leave you feeling much more at ease. Before starting any exercise program please contact your Doctor or GP for their advice, especially when dealing with spinal issues.

In order to reduce the pressure on the nerve it is recommended to increase flexibility and mobility of the hips, whilst strengthening the abdominal and back muscles. This not only relieves pressure on the nerve but also provides more stability and support for the lumbar region.

Beginner Pilates exercises will help alleviate the pain of Sciatica over time. The aim is too use exercises of both flexion and extension in the lumbar spine, hips, gluteals and thighs. The beginner series; ‘Injury and Pain Free Back’ is best suited for this, with adequate progressions as the pain reduces. It is frustrating as a teacher to see people title their workouts as beginner and to set the level of exercise far too high for their audience. If you are struggling with back pain and are recommended to do a beginner Pilates course, following a video on YouTube may not be the best thing. The exercises may be too advance and have a fitness focus in mind rather than a rehabilitation mindset. The result could mean more injury and further frustration. It is important to start at a low level and not to rush to progress too quick. Doing further damage could only delay the rehabilitation process.

Exercises from the Pilates method, which stretch and mobilise the hips and lumbar spine will evidently eradicate the symptoms of mild Sciatica. Low level exercises such as the one leg stretch, leg lifts and hip circles will increase mobility in the hips and loosen the resultant pressure. In the intermediate series of the system, side lying clams or hip openers are also proven to be very effective for Sciatica Relief. I think it’s important to say that Sciatica is individual for everyone and what may work for me, may not be best for you depending on the origin of the pain and the cause.

Below are two exercises that I recommend as a good starting point to help on the road to ‘pain free.’ These aren’t by any means new videos here on Pilates 32, but it is ideal to perform them in succession of each other. If you find they do work and you need more information, I do recommend investing in the Pilates 32 system. I am by no means a hard pushing sales man and if you can find a Pilates system else where that works for you then please do follow that. Like I said before, it is about finding what works for you. For some, our system is the right solution for others it may be another you find out there on another resource. But please please, whatever you do, do not attempt exercises that are way too advanced and should never have been defined as beginner in the first place.

So the two moves I recommend are lying leg lifts, excellent for strengthening the hips and lumbar region. Also hip circles which combine both mobility and flexibility, awesome for relieving any pressure on the Sciatic nerve in the hips and lower lumbar region.

Hope this article is informative and extremely helpful. If you have any thoughts or questions, please do leave a comment below of feel free to email me anytime. If you haven’t signed up and received our exclusive videos and updates, make sure you do too.

All the best

Ian

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

rani February 20, 2012 at 7:19 am

Thank you. Your post confirms that I was doing the right thing. I had been suffering from sciatic pain and it has recently got much better. Two of the exercises i’ve been doing are single leg lift and hip circles. Relieved to read these are what you would recommend. :)

Reply

pilates32 February 21, 2012 at 6:06 am

Hey Rani
Great to hear it helps. Another great tip alongside Pilates, is to perform some self myofascial release with a foam roller, especially around the hips and upper legs. This can really help release tension that may be causing some sciatic pain.

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Emre May 29, 2012 at 9:10 am

Thank you.These exercises helped me so much.They are better than painkillers :D .

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