Plagued with sciatica? Here are 11 good exercises that can reduce nerve pain, provide better muscle strength and more mobility. Please share.
Sciatica is also known as fake sciatica - a diagnosis where nerve pain and radiation down the legs from the back occurs due to irritation of the sciatic nerve due to myalgias / muscle tension and joint restrictions. The difference between false and true sciatica is that the latter comes from a disc disorder or prolapse. Fortunately, false sciatica is far more common than symptomatic disc herniation. To do any of these exercises, you need a custom training tram - you can buy here if desired (use discount code vondt2016 for a 10% discount). For those starting with such training we recommend rose or green rubber band.
This exercise extends and mobilizes the lower back in a gentle manner. Lie on your abdomen and support your elbows with your palms facing the floor. Keep your neck in a neutral position (not bent) and stretch back slowly by applying pressure down through your hands. You should feel a slight stretch in your abdominal muscles as you stretch back - don't go so far as to hurt. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds. Repeat over 6-10 repetitions.
For those of you with stronger sciatica, we recommend the "emergency position" or as we personally call it: the "90/90" position. This is a position where research has shown that you have the least possible pressure on the lower vertebrae, nerves and muscles in the lower back - you should not lie in it too long, and it is otherwise encouraged to keep moving within what the back allows.
Lie flat on the floor with the femur at 90 degrees and the calves at 90 degrees, as illustrated in the picture - you may want to roll a thin towel and place it in the basket on the lower back. For acute low back pain and sciatica, one may try to lie in it for example 3-5 times a day for about 30 minutes at a time. It may be beneficial to combine this position with icing, as the guidelines are "20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, repeat".
This exercise aims to increase the movement in the lower back and stretch the muscles in the seat and lower back - this can have a soothing effect on sciatica. Lie flat on the floor with your back down, preferably on an exercise mat with support under your neck. Pull your legs up towards you until they are in a bent position.
Then bend one leg up against you until you feel it stretch gently in the seat and lower back. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.
Alternatively, you can bend both legs up to the chest - but we recommend using it only when you have less pain, as it puts slightly higher pressure on the discs in the lower back.
Most of us know that nerve irritation can lead to irritated muscles and altered gait (inclination and shorter stride length). Therefore, it is not uncommon to feel extra tight in the muscles in the legs, including the calf muscles and hamstrings. It is therefore recommended that you stretch out the back of the leg daily - where you hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds and repeat over 3 sets. The illustration below is a good way to stretch the back of the leg. This can also be a good way to counteract leg cramps for those who are struggling with it.
This exercise is excellent training for the gluteal muscles, which plays a very important role in hip stabilization. A stable pelvis has a significantly lower chance of developing musculoskeletal disorders - such as sciatica. Find an exercise band such as debt (adapted for this type of exercise) that can be tied around both ankles as in a large circle.
Then stand with your feet in shoulder width so that there is a gentle resistance from the strap to your ankles. The knees should be slightly bent and the seat should be slightly backwards in a kind of partially squat position.
Then take a step to the right with your right foot and leave your left leg standing - make sure you keep your knee stable (do not let it fall inwards) - and then return to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 repetitions, on both sides, above 2-3 sets.
It is quickly done to forget how important the seat muscles are to the back and hip. Strong gluteal muscles reduce pressure and strain on the back.
The bridge is done by lying on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the ground, with your arms resting along the side. Your back should be in a neutral curve. Feel free to warm up the seat by performing some light exercises - where you simply tighten the seat muscles, hold it for about 5 seconds and release again. This is an activation exercise that tells the muscles that you plan to use it soon - which in turn can lead to more proper use during exercise, and reduce the chance of muscle damage. When you're ready, do the exercise by pulling the seat muscles together, before lifting the pelvis and hip up against the ceiling. Make sure you perform the exercise by pressing through the heels. Raise the pelvis to the back is in a neutral position, not over-curved, and then slowly lower back to the starting position. The exercise is performed 8-15 repetitions, about 2-3 sets.
The purpose of this exercise is to mobilize the sciatica itself and can be painful if you are in an acute phase of the sciatica problem - this should therefore be awaited until the sciatica irritation is somewhat more under control. Lie flat on the floor with your back down, preferably on a training mat with support under your neck.
Then bend one leg toward the chest and then grip the back of the thigh with both hands. Stretch your leg in a controlled, calm motion, while pulling your leg toward you. Keep the clothing exercise for 20-30 seconds while taking deep breaths. Then bend your knee back and return to the starting position. Alternatively you can use a towel or similar (as illustrated in the picture) to get extra stretch to the back of the thigh.
Repeat the exercise 2-3 times on each side.
A very good exercise for more correct use of the gluteal muscles, especially the gluteus medius. You will feel that it 'burns' a little in the seat after only a few repetitions - which indicates that you, most likely, underuse this important part of the support muscles - which in turn puts more strain on the back.
Lie on the side in fetal position - with the hips in 90 degree bend and with the knees on top of each other. Let your lower arm act as a support under your head and allow your upper arm to rest on your body or floor. Lift the upper knee from the lower knee while keeping the heels in contact with each other - a bit like an oyster that opens, hence the name. Focus on contracting the seat muscles as you perform the exercise. Repeat the exercise above 10-15 repetitions over 2-3 sets.
Toe lift and its lesser known little brother, heel lift, are both exercises that are important for the muscles in the arch of the foot and the sole of the foot. The exercises can be performed on bare ground or on the stairs. We must remember that the front line in loads against the back and pelvis lies in the feet - therefore strong foot muscles are important to be able to limit this type of overload. It is also excellent for activating the calf muscles and stimulating nerve signals to the feet.
Position A: Start with your feet in a neutral position and lift up your toes - while pushing down toward the football.
Position B: Same starting point. Then lift your feet up against your heels - here it may be appropriate to lean against a wall.
- Perform 10 repetitions on both exercises above 3 sets.
"Monster walks" are a brilliant exercise for the knees, hips and pelvis. Which makes it excellent for hip stability and back muscles. After only a short time with this exercise, you will feel that it burns deep in the seat. For this exercise we recommend a Perform Better training tram (rose or green).
Find a training band (preferably adapted for this type of exercise - feel free to check our online store or ask us directly) that can be tied around both ankles as in a large circle. Then stand with your feet shoulder-width apart so that there is good resistance from the strap to your ankles. Then you should walk, while working to keep your legs shoulder-width apart, a bit like Frankenstein or a mummy - hence the name. The exercise is performed in 30-60 seconds over 2-3 sets.
This exercise stretches the gluteal muscles and piriformis - the latter is a muscle that is often involved in sciatica and sciatica. Lie flat on the floor with your back down, preferably on an exercise mat with support under your neck. Then bend the right leg and place it over the left thigh. Then grab the left thigh or right leg and gently pull towards you until you feel that it stretches deep on the back of the thigh and the gluteal muscles on the side that you stretch. Hold the strain for 30 seconds. Then repeat on the other side. Performed over 2-3 sets on each side.
These are fine exercises that should preferably be done regularly for maximum effect - but we remind you that it may take several weeks before you begin to notice a clear difference in muscle function and symptoms.
What can I do even for muscle and joint pain?
1. General exercise, specific exercise, stretching and activity are recommended, but stay within the pain limit. Two walks a day of 20-40 minutes make good for the whole body and sore muscles.
2. Trigger point / massage balls we strongly recommend - they come in different sizes so you can hit well even on all parts of the body. There is no better self help than this! We recommend the following (click the image below) - which is a complete set of 5 trigger point / massage balls in different sizes:
3. Training: Specific training with training tricks of various opponents (such as this complete set of 6 knits of different resistance) can help you train strength and function. Knit training often involves more specific training, which in turn can lead to more effective injury prevention and pain reduction.
4. Pain Relief - Cooling: Biofreeze is a natural product that can relieve pain by cooling the area gently. Cooling is especially recommended when the pain is very severe. When they have calmed down then heat treatment is recommended - it is therefore advisable to have both cooling and heating available.
5. Pain Relief - Heating: Warming up tight muscles can increase blood circulation and reduce pain. We recommend the following reusable hot / cold gasket (click here to read more about it) - which can be used both for cooling (can be frozen) and for heating (can be heated in the microwave).
Recommended products for pain relief for muscle and joint pain
Biofreeze (Cold / cryotherapy)
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