As the largest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve can cause serious pain or discomfort when it becomes compressed or irritated—causing a set of symptoms known to most of us as “sciatica.” These symptoms, which are typically felt on one side of the body (from the lower back down through the buttocks and leg), can make it difficult for many people to stand, walk, and even sit.
While it bed rest may sound like the natural treatment for any kind of back pain, including sciatica, the truth is that getting exercise can help alleviate the discomfort. Resting for a couple of days after the initial sciatica leg pain flare up is alright, but the faster you can get moving, the faster you will help your symptoms.
Having a strong core—that is, the back and abdominals—is the key to reducing the risk of back strain and other associated injuries. By engaging in gentle strengthening and stretching routines, you can facilitate exchange of vital fluids and nutrients within your spine to improve the health of your discs. These exercises, which should always be performed with a neutral spine position, also reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve to relieve some of your pain.
To avoid causing additional injury or compression of the sciatic nerve when performing stretches or strengthening exercises, it’s important to follow these tips:
- Always use slow and controlled motions.
- Never stretch outside of your comfort zone.
- Stop immediately should you experience any additional pain, tingling, or numbness.
- Keep your spine and pelvis in a neutral position at all times.
- If you are taking an exercise class, speak to the instructor beforehand and ask for modifications.
Remember that our healthcare professionals are here to offer advice on lifestyle changes that will help with your symptoms of sciatica leg pain. We can work with you to develop a customized plan that will take into account your underlying condition and deliver long-term results.