If you’ve ever suffered from sciatica, you know that it can be both excruciating and debilitating. The condition is the result of the sciatic nerve – the longest nerve in the body – being irritated as a result of compression.
This most often happens when one or more of the cushions between the vertebrae in the spine are damaged or have slipped out of place, though it can also be a result of curvatures of the back, pregnancy, narrowing of the spinal canal, and other causes: it is characterized by pain and tingling running down one of your legs, potentially including the toes.
The appropriate response to sciatica is to make an appointment with a lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey who will be able to correctly diagnose the cause of the problem and prescribe a course of action designed to alleviate your pain and prevent it from returning.
In the meantime, there are certain exercises that you can do on your own that can provide relief. Most are focused on the hip flexors and a small muscle in your hips called the piriformis, both of which often become tight and leads to compression of the sciatic nerve. If you add a few of the exercises shown below to your daily regimen a few times a week, they can provide significant relief.
- Reclining Pigeon Stretch – This simple exercise is designed to help stretch the piriformis muscles. Start by laying on your back and bending your left leg up into a right angle so that you can place both of your hands behind your left thigh and clasp them, then lift your right leg while putting your left ankle on the right knee. Hold the position to stretch the muscles in your back, then switch legs.
- Sitting Pigeon Stretch – Begin this exercise while sitting on the floor. Stretch your legs out in front of you and bend your left leg, putting the ankle on top of your right knee. While in that position, lean forward so that you can feel the stretch in your glutes and lower back, holding the position for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
- Forward Pigeon Stretch – Begin this exercise on your knees, then place your hands on the floor for stability. Lift your left leg and slide it forward so that your foot is on the ground, positioned slightly in front of your knee, while your right leg is beneath you, touching the ground. Stretch the right leg out behind you on the floor Stretch the left leg out all the way behind you on the floor so that your toes are pointing backwards and the top of your foot is resting on the floor. Let your legs support your weight and sit up straight, breathing deeply and leaning forward over your left leg. Switch sides and repeat.
- Knee to Opposite Shoulder – This is a stretch that will ease tightness in your glutes. Start out by laying on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you and your toes pointing to the ceiling, ankles flexed. Bend your left leg and lift it by wrapping your hands around your knee, then pull it up across your body towards your right shoulder. Hold the position, breathing deeply through the stretch. Return to starting position and switch legs. Repeat three times.
If these simple stretches don’t provide relief, contact us today to set up a time for out lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey to diagnose your problem and provide you with a long-term solution.