When you’re having a sciatica attack, exercise is the furthest thing from your mind. But that’s a big mistake.
It hurts. I know. I treat people with sciatica regularly. But exercise is one of the most useful tools in your toolbox if you’re seeking relief. While it may sound counter-intuitive, exercising to decrease pain is an effective way to address this condition.
Let’s discuss how to exercise with sciatica. You may not relish the thought, but with these tips, you’ll find it’s the best way to improve your quality of life, by relieving sciatica pain.
Heat can help
The thought of exercise will become less daunting if you follow this tip. Applying heat for 15 to 20 minutes as a prelude to exercise serves to relieve pain, making you feel better about the proposition and much more willing to do it.
Your skin is equipped with sensory nerve receptors. When heat is applied to your lower back (where the sciatic nerve originates) the effect is of shutting down the messages these receptors are sending to your brain. When your brain doesn’t know about the pain, it’s shut down temporarily.
Heat will also have the effect of reducing stiffness and allowing more flexibility. Being able to stretch effectively and without pain is one way to beat sciatica, because stretching helps to reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve. When it’s compressed, it’s irritated and that means inflammation and pain.
While applying heat, ensure that you protect your skin by using a towel to create a barrier between the heat source and your body. The heat will still get through. It just won’t burn.
I know you’re not very interested in jogging right now. Good, because that’s one of the worst ways to treat sciatica. High-impact exercise can irritate the sciatic nerve, causing pain to run up and down the lower body.
Instead, try using an elliptical trainer or stationary bicycle. These low impact options still provide the workout you need, without pushing the envelope and exacerbating the problem.
Another excellent alternative is exercising in water. Walking, performing controlled exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles and even paddling or swimming contribute to your physical wellbeing, while encouraging greater flexibility.
Exercises like these create conditions for your body to feed itself properly, allowing the flow of oxygen and essential nutrients to the affected area.
To get started, don’t push yourself too hard. Commit to brief daily periods of exercise, building up as you become stronger. You’ll find that your symptoms will gradually improve and all because you weren’t afraid to try.
PRO-TIP: Following your workouts, apply a cold pack to your lower back, taking the same precautions you did with the hot pack and applying it for the same amount of time.
Back & Body Medical
The multi-disciplinarian pain relief model Back & Body’s won awards for is now available in New Jersey. If you’re suffering from sciatic pain, we invite you to contact us for consultation.
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