Sciatica is caused by compression of a large nerve that starts outside the base of your spine near your pelvis and runs down the back of your leg from your buttock to your foot. Pain with sciatica can occur anywhere along this path or radiate throughout.
“People with sciatica may experience sharp shooting, throbbing, or burning pain in those areas,” says Abby Halpin, DPT, PT, physical therapist and owner of Forte Performance and Physical Therapy. They can change sensations such as tingling or numbness, explains Dr. Halpin. “Because the sciatic nerve carries motor information, the leg may feel heavy, weak, or immobile,” she says. “Symptoms may last only a few seconds or may be persistent and chronic.”
What causes sciatica?
Dr. According to Halpin, sciatica can happen to anyone, but it is more common in people between the ages of 30 and 50. Symptoms usually develop gradually. “It can happen when someone is in a position that compresses nerve tissue for a long time, such as sitting, standing, working in an awkward position, or repetitive motion for long periods of the day, especially bending or bending,” he explains. Halpin.
“Imagine falling asleep on your arm and waking up with an itch or sensation,” she says. “It’s also a type of nerve compression, but it’s very temporary, and it’s like the onset of sciatica. In the case of sciatica, it’s not just one night of sleeping in a weird position, it’s usually weeks or months of being in these compression positions that’s a problem for sciatica sufferers. creates.
Dr. According to Halpin, a decrease in physical activity is often the root cause of acute or sudden sciatica, because people who are less active may have less tolerance for movements that compress the spine or legs. This, in turn, can cause pain and swelling of the nerve. “The classic example is a person who is somewhat immobile in their daily life, but one day bends over to lift a heavy couch,” he says. “The joints and soft tissues of the back around the nerve are not used to such weight and movement and send a signal to the brain that something dangerous is happening. As a result, the pain is removed from the dangerous position, but it can cause sciatica that continues until recovery.
How strength training can relieve sciatica symptoms
Dr. According to Halpin, strength training is the best way to build resistance against the types of loading and compression that can cause sciatica. “By lifting heavy loads more frequently, the muscles are better equipped to handle the pressure loads and keep the sciatic nerve from taking too much pressure,” he says.
Strength training allows people to move, sit and stand in different positions, says Dr. Galpin adds. “By having a ‘wide range of motion’ vocabulary, people can avoid using the same movements or positions all the time, which means they spend less time stressing their sciatic nerve in the same way,” he explains. Diversity is so important.”
7 strength training exercises for sciatica pain
1. 90-90 hip lift
This exercise will strengthen your back, hamstrings, and core. Begin lying on your back with your feet on the seat of a chair or against a wall. With your hips and knees bent at 90 degrees (hence the name), your hips are parallel to the floor, your arms are extended by your sides, palms flat on the floor. From here, without physically moving your foot, press your heel down to activate the back of your foot. Then, without raising your back, tuck your tailbone and lift it an inch or two off the floor before lowering it back down. You should feel your hamstrings working (pulling). Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.
This is a core exercise that will strengthen the entire posterior chain (the back of your body). You’ll also get a nice stretch in your legs and hamstrings and stretch the sciatic nerve. Hold a weight, such as a laundry tub, or some household object in front of your body with both hands, keeping your arms straight. As you hang from the hips, gently bend your knees and keep your back straight, but bend your torso to a 45-degree angle and shift your weight from the front of your hips toward the ground. Press through your heels and squeeze your glutes at the top to stand back up. Complete three sets of 8–10 repetitions
Rockbacks are one of the best exercises for sciatica and lower back dysfunction because they strengthen the mind-body connection in your core muscles and strengthen your deep abdominal muscles and lower back muscles. These muscles help protect the spine and nerves. Begin by getting down on your hands and knees. Keep your arms straight and, keeping your back straight, press your hips back to move over your heels. Slowly return to the starting position. This is a representative. Complete three sets of 8-10 repetitions.
4. Diagonal cutlets
This is a good strength training exercise for sciatica because it strengthens the entire core while simultaneously mobilizing the spine. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold a weight or household object, such as a bottle of water, with both hands. Step up diagonally to your right and feel your torso and left leg (heel high) to rotate to that side. Push the weight down (with control) on the outside of your opposite hip so that you make a big, diagonal sweeping motion through your body. This is a representative. Complete three sets of 8-10 repetitions per side.
5. Goblet squat
Dr. According to Halpin, strengthening exercises like these can help ensure your body is flexible and able to handle functional movements during daily activities. Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Bring your hands together in front of your chest. (Optional: Hold the top of the dumbbell vertically in both hands.) Bend your knees and sit with your hips back and down toward your heels. Lower yourself as far as you can with your feet on the ground. Point your elbows toward your knees or just toward them. Press through your heels to stand back up. This is a representative. Complete three sets of 8-10 repetitions.
This is a good exercise for strengthening the whole body. It also builds core strength and back stability. Dr. Halpin says you can make this exercise more difficult by holding a dumbbell or weighted object. Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than your hips, elbows bent, and fists raised above your shoulders. Squat to a comfortable depth with your feet on the floor. Stand up and raise your arms straight up. Lower your arms back to the starting position. This is a representative. Complete three sets of 8-10 repetitions.
7. Rounded boards
These exercises are great for sciatica because they strengthen you without putting too much strain on your lower back. Get down on your hands and knees. Exhale and feel your stomach tighten and round your back slightly. Drop each foot back into the plank, keeping your hips low and your back rounded. Hold the position for 4-5 breaths, focusing on a slow and full exhalation with each breath. Repeat 3-4 more times.
How long does it usually take for sciatica pain to go away?
Dr. According to Halpin, many people with sciatica symptoms worry that they will have sciatica forever, but recovery is certainly possible. “Complete resolution of symptoms can take up to a year, but that doesn’t mean severe symptoms will last that long,” she says. “The longest-lasting symptoms are usually mild swelling of the foot or leg. An evaluation by a physical therapist is the best way to determine how and why symptoms started, and to create a plan to make changes that will reduce pain and weakness.
Remember, movement is medicine. Being active can help prevent the pinched nerve that causes this type of pain, and if you’re already suffering from it, the strength training exercises for sciatica above can help ease symptoms.