You have a 40% probability of experiencing sciatica at some point in your lifetime. You can recognize this painful, often debilitating condition from its telltale signs. Pain originates in your lower back or buttock and radiates down your leg. It is worse when standing and sitting, and it feels sharp, searing, and burning.
You may also have accompanying numbness, weakness, or tingling that runs down your leg and can even reach your toes. In severe cases, standing up from a seated position and walking are painful.
Usually, sciatica affects just one side, when one of your two sciatic nerves is compressed or irritated. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body — it originates at the spinal cord and makes its way down your leg into your foot. Its path takes it between layers of muscles deep in the buttocks and in the back of the thigh.
You may suffer sciatic pain due to a herniated disc in the lumbar spine or due to a tight piriformis muscle that lies deep in your hip. Yoga can be a salve for either cause.
Sciatica due to a herniated disc
A disc in your lower back that has shifted or is leaking may be irritating the sciatic nerve. Suspect disc involvement if you have significant low back pain and electric sensations down your leg. Contact the team at Vanguard Clinic for a thorough evaluation.
One of the best ways to prevent and manage back issues such as sciatica is with a regular yoga practice.Yoga that involves gentle floor-based poses, such as Reclined Twist, and progress to standing poses, such as Warrior and Downward-Facing Dog, can help lengthen your spine. Yoga may even help you manage the pain of herniation and alleviate sciatica symptoms without more invasive treatments.
Sciatica due to a tight piriformis
If your sciatic pain is due to a tight piriformis, yoga can be instrumental in stretching this hard-to-reach muscle. The muscle acts to extend your hip as you walk, moves your thigh out to the side, and helps you rotate your thigh outward. Suspect a tight piriformis if you have difficulty walking on your heels or on your toes, pins-and-needles pain exists down the outside of your calf and to the fourth and little toes, and pain is worse after sitting for long periods.
Key yoga poses in stretching this muscle include Seated or Standing Twist, Pigeon, and Cow Face. To do a simple Seated Twist, sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you. Bend your right knee into your chest and plant your foot. Place your right hand on the floor behind your back as you hug your right knee with your left arm. Hold the stretch for several breaths, then repeat on the other side to promote balance.
The team at the Vanguard Clinic often recommends yoga as part of a comprehensive therapy plan to treat your sciatic pain. Our practice can help you manage and reduce pain as you pursue other treatments, including weight loss, ergonomic adjustments, and lifting techniques. Contact us today for a consultation.