Best Stretches For Sciatica To Make Your Work Life Pain Free
Experiencing any physical pain is annoying and distracting. And it becomes more problematic if you are a working individual. Be it a sitting job or a standing job, having pain in any part of your body that lingers is simply unpleasant. It becomes difficult to concentrate on the work while dealing with the pain.
Some kinds of physical pain can be reduced and treated with the help of exercises. At the same time, some require the aid of proper medical treatments.
Are you someone who is going through an excruciating pain that doesnt seem to go away? Do you feel pain around your back that also travels upto your leg? You may have sciatica! Worry not, as we are here to rescue you from any such dilemma.
As the title suggests, you will learn about the best stretches for sciatica. We have included ten easy stretches that are believed to reduce sciatica, which will make your work life easier. But what is sciatica? To learn, keep on reading!
This blog should not be used to treat or diagnose sciatica. Individuals seeking medical advice should consult a health professional.
About Sciatica and the Sciatic Nerve
Sciatica is a pain that is associated with the sciatic nerve. The speculation about sciatica is - one may not truly suffer from sciatica or injure the sciatic nerve per se. This term is loosely used to describe any type of pain that revolves around the lower back and surrounding areas. But it doesn't mean you have zero chances of suffering from sciatica.
On a different note, there is one similar condition known as “Piriformis Syndrome.” This is termed when the piriformis muscles are involved in causing sciatica.
The sciatic nerve originates in the lower portion of your back and extends through the hips and buttocks. From there, the nerve continues into the back of each leg straight up to the toes.
The sciatic nerve is the largest in the human body.
Causes Of Sciatica
Sciatica is a condition that develops due to the below-mentioned possibilities:
- A slipped disc, which is popularly known as a herniated disc
- Extra bone growth on the spine, also known as bone spurs
- The piriformis muscle compressing on the sciatic nerve
These occurrences seem to put pressure on the sciatic nerve. This leads to inflammation and unexplained pain in the lower back, buttocks, or legs. In some cases, the pressure on the sciatic nerve may also cause numbness or tingling sensation in one or both legs.
Work-Life And Sciatica
The nature of the work that you do as a part of your occupation plays an important role in developing sciatica. And if the symptoms aggravate further, then the person may have to get hospitalized for treatment.
A research study suggests that the occurrence of sciatica is highest among working individuals who are overweight or obese. Along with the weight trouble, physically unfit people who lead a sedentary work life or are required to carry heavy weighing commodities are more prone to developing sciatica.
But again, it is also seen that employees who have to carry heavy weights at work may, infact, have reduced chances of suffering from symptoms of piriformis syndrome or sciatic nerve pain.
Generally speaking, maintaining a poor and inactive work-life balance can serve as a precursor to sciatica. This means leading a healthier and more active lifestyle minimizes the possibility of piriformis or sciatica.
Note: If you carry an object of heavyweight, be mindful of your posture. In doing so, you will avert risks related to a slipped disc, which can eventually lead to sciatica.
10 Best Stretches For Sciatica Pain
Sciatic nerve pain is difficult to ignore. Here are the ten best stretches for sciatica that are worth recommending. Practicing these stretches is believed to reduce pain, be it sciatica or piriformis syndrome.
Breathe in properly when you stretch your body. Make a habit of practicing these stretches two days a week. Do note you should not feel more pain while stretching.
1. The double knee-to-chest stretch
- Lie on your back.
- Keep your knees bent with your feet flat on the floor.
- Use both your hands to hold your legs right below the knees. Gently pull towards your chest.
- Hold the position for 10 seconds.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat this stretching exercise 3 times.
2. The single knee-to-chest stretch
This is a variation of the double knee-to-chest stretch.
- Lie on your back.
- Keep your knees bent with your feet flat on the floor.
- Now, use both your hands to clasp around your right knee and gently pull towards your left shoulder. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Return to the starting position.
- Now, repeat on the other side.
- Practice this stretch exercise at least 3 times in a row.
3. The standing hamstring stretch
This stretching exercise requires using a sturdy chair. When you place your leg on the chair, it should not be above your hip level. So, choose a chair or any other elevated surface accordingly.
- Let’s start this with the right side. Stand in front of the chair or any elevated surface of your choice. Lift your right leg and keep your foot on the surface. Make sure your leg is below or at the hip level.
- Keep your foot upright on your heel.
- Position your hands on either side of your hips. Now, bend your upper body towards your right foot. This movement helps the hamstring muscles to stretch.
- Also, as you keep your right leg upright, keep this side of the hip downwards. This may create opposing muscle tension, causing your right hip to move upwards. You can tie a cloth around your right thigh and left foot to keep your hip downwards easily.
- Hold for 30 seconds. And return to the starting position. Switch your foot and repeat it on the other side, hold for 30 seconds, and release.
4. The scissor hamstring stretch
This exercise also focuses on the hamstring muscles.
- To do this stretch, place your right foot straight out in front of your left foot. Keep a gap of at least 3 feet between the two feet.
- Place your hands on the hips. Bend forward at the waist. Along with it, bring your hips and shoulders forward, bringing your upper body towards your feet.
- Hold onto this position for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, repeat the same on the other side.
5. The prone elbow stretch
This exercise causes the muscles in your lower back to feel a stretch.
- Lie flat on your stomach. To do this stretch comfortably, use a yoga mat.
- Bend your arms at your elbows. Make sure your elbows are positioned below your shoulders. Keep your forearms parallel to one another.
- Hold the pose for 5 seconds and relax.
- Repeat the same at least 10 times.
6. The cobra stretch
The cobra stretch is somewhat similar to the prone elbow stretch.
- Lie flat on your stomach. Put pressure on your palms to lift your upper body upright as much as possible. Keep your hands close to your body.
- Keep your elbows slightly bent when you lift your upper body. Try to focus your muscles around the abs and thighs.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Relax and then practice it again for 8 to 10 times.
7. The lower trunk rotation stretch
The lower trunk encompasses the body region from below the neck upto your hips. So, this stretching exercise helps the muscles in your back to relax and gain strength.
- Lie flat on your back. Then, keep your knees bent upright. Place your feet flat on the floor.
- Place your palms, facing down, on both sides of your body.
- Twist your back towards your right side, moving your already bent knees in the same direction. As you do this, keep your upper body straight.
- Hold the pose for 5 seconds. Return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side for 5 seconds. Carry out this exercise atleast 10 times.
8. The glute bridge stretch
This one focuses on the gluteus muscles, popularly known as the glutes. In simpler terms, the buttock muscles are the glutes.
- To start this, first, lie flat on your back. Bend your knees upright. Keep your feet at shoulder width apart.
- Place your arms on both sides of your body, with your palms facing downwards.
- As you keep your feet flat on the floor, push your hips upwards, applying the force through your heels. Take the support of your forearms as you lift your hips.
- To do this stretch perfectly, make sure your body creates a somewhat straight line, starting from your head to your knees. Although, it is okay to have a slight arch on your back during this exercise.
- Hold for 30 seconds and then return to the starting position slowly.
- Do this stretch 10 times in 1 set. Carry out atleast 2 to 3 sets in one sitting.
9. The sciatic nerve glide stretch
This stretching exercise requires a chair that is sturdy enough to hold your body weight.
- Take a chair and sit in such a way that your feet touch the ground properly. You should be able to keep both your feet flat on the ground.
- Hold the sides of your chair firmly and lift your right leg upto your knee height. At the same time, keep your left foot on the ground.
- Now, twist your right ankle back towards yourself. Then, twist again to move your feet away from your body.
- Continue this back-and-forth motion of your ankle for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Take a pause and repeat on the other side. Carry out 3 sets of this exercise for each leg.
10. The child’s pose stretch
The child’s pose allows you to stretch your spine as well as your hips.
- Take a yoga mat to do this stretch. Kneel down, and hold your upper body with your hands on the floor. Your arms should be straight, placing them under your shoulders.
- Keep your knees close to one another, and move your hips towards your feet. This causes your torso muscles to relax.
- Breathe in as you make a move. Try to stay in this position for 5 minutes and then relax.
How Do These Best Stretches For Sciatica Reduce The Pain?
The muscles may tighten due to bad posture, injury, or other reasons that can lead to sciatica or piriformis syndrome. Practicing stretches are known to help the muscles around your spine and to feel a stretch and relax. Hence, it reduces the pain.
If you are planning to try out stretching exercises, be cautious. Why? If you have a record of being mostly inactive physically, then practice the stretches with care.
Other Ways To Treat Sciatica
Apart from exercises, here are some additional ways to treat sciatica that are worth mentioning:
1. Cold compress:
Take an ice pack and place it over the affected area for atleast 20 minutes. Practice this multiple times a day. If the ice pack feels too cold to use, you can wrap a clean piece of cloth to wrap and use it. How does it work? The cold compress technique is seen to numb the nerves, reducing any pain in the area.
2. Heat compress:
Get a heating pad, place it over the affected area for a few minutes, and then switch it off. Make sure to keep the heat at its lowest temperature. Heat compression is believed to increase blood flow and relaxes any tightness around the muscles.
For best results, you can try cold and heat compress alternatively. While at work, you can carry the heating pad and enjoy the benefits of a heat compress for sciatica as you work.
Doctors also prescribe painkillers for patients who go through unbearable pain due to sciatica. Although, taking painkillers only creates a dependency and doesnt truly treat the symptom. It only subsides the pain momentarily. To be on the safe side, keep a bottle of painkillers ready on your work desk in case of any emergency.
When Should You Consult A Doctor Or Physical Therapist?
In the case of sciatica, it is wise to see a doctor the moment you are experiencing any such pain. The sooner, the better. If you are diagnosed with sciatica or piriformis syndrome, your doctor may recommend you a physical therapist along with other treatments as required.
This is all that you should know briefly about sciatica. If you feel you have sciatica, consult your doctor immediately. And to help you get better, we curated the ten easiest and best stretches for sciatica pain relief.
Also, please talk with a physical therapist regarding these stretches and practice them as advised.
Moreover, nowadays, almost everyone leads a sedentary work lifestyle. It also increases your risk of sciatica. Instead, promise yourself to remain active irrespective of your work. Stay fit and active, and keep any body pain away!
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you stretch if your sciatic nerve hurts?
If you have developed a sciatic nerve, you should stretch your body, primarily the sciatic area.
How long does it take to heal sciatica?
Normally, it takes 4 to 6 weeks for sciatica to heal. In severe cases, it may take a longer duration to heal.
Does sciatica heal on its own?
It is observed that sciatica can heal on its own without any treatment. For this to happen, the body usually takes 1 to 2 months time to heal naturally.
How to heal sciatica quickly?
The quickest way to heal pain due to sciatica is to perform heat and cold compress therapy alternatively.
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