The torment of a shooting/tingling pain that starts in your butt and can run down the back of the leg, all the way underneath the foot to the big toe. The pain point can stop anywhere along this nerve trail and can be very intense. It can feel like a muscle cramp or even that someone is just poking you in the same spot without release. It is caused by the Sciatic nerve being caught (pinched) at a joint or through a tight muscle. It can then cause an inflammation of the nerve sheath which can add to the pain levels.
Sitting down for some people aggravates it, so it’s important for you to work out what it is that’s causing more discomfort and do less of that for starters.
I generally advise against stretching out the gluteals (your butt) if sciatica is present, because it can sometimes make symptoms worse. The Sciatic nerve is already being ‘pulled’ and while stretching might be the action you are craving, it is only going to pull on the nerve more.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE SCIATICA?
Well, I’m glad you asked! In a nutshell, you need to:
- Sit better (if you must sit, or vary the way you sit eg; sit on the floor so you are forced to move more often)
- Stand better (I teach you how to do this in every class setting on my timetable, so no excuses)
- Walk and move more (but you need to learn how to stand better for you to be able to move and walk better, so you can sort of see how these things are indeed connected)
- Create space for your Sciatic nerve to move. You only need a micro-millimetre (ok, I am not sure this is an official measurement, but you get the idea) of space. So, activities which stretch your spine – hanging from the monkey bars for 20 secs everyday (even better if you can hang from your knees….DON’T FALL), hanging on an inversion table, poses such as Child’s Pose etc.
- Strengthen your glutes (a huge role in relieving pelvic pain, sciatica and sneeze wee is building yourself a strong butt, which incidentally is linked to walking better – you see – I can find a tenuous link to everything!)
- Release your hamstrings (particularly if sneeze wee is something you suffer with – it tells me your pelvic floor is possibly too tight…..but that is a topic for another blog post)
- Teach your core to switch on reflexively (which means you don’t “draw it in” all the time, or at all – you let it anticipate and adapt to the load you’re asking it to bear), and finally
- Learn to breathe better (because you can’t get a reflexive core, if you’re not breathing into your ribs, and breathing better can also help pelvic floor/core synergy too)
And, there you have it!
That’s quite an extensive list as you can see, but you’ll know that if you’ve ever asked me a question that goes along the lines of: “What exercises are good for….?” I rarely if ever answer it by listing my “go to” exercises, because I look at the body as a whole unit, and just sending you away with 4 movements to do in isolation isn’t going to relieve your symptoms.
You’ve got to take some responsibility for your pain and actions going forwards too, you see. You need to make the appointment to get checked out and then begin the rehab process to feel better again.
If you’re concerned that any symptom you’re suffering with is not going away, it’s probably time to get in touch with me, don’t you think? If I need to refer you on, I definitely will.
See you at the studio soon,
Kari “I no longer have Sciatic pain” Harrold xx