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Best Activities to Reduce Sciatica Pain

Everyone has experienced back pain at some point in their life. Sometimes it’s the result of sleeping in a bad position or comes after an intense day of lifting. In other cases, like with sciatica, it’s caused by nerve compression.

Most people haven’t heard of sciatica until they’ve experienced its intense pain. Sciatica affects up to 40% of people and describes pain that runs along the sciatica nerve — usually affecting the lower back and one or both legs. 

The Painless Center, located in New Jersey, provides a variety of treatments for sciatica pain relief. Jason Chiu, MD provides custom treatment plans to help you regain your health and well-being. Dr. Chiu may suggest you incorporate some simple activities like these into your lifestyle.

Practice good posture

Practicing good posture is often easier said than done. If you’re suffering from sciatica, it could be the result of poor posture. Practicing good posture can help relieve pain caused by the pressure to the sciatic nerve while improving your lower body’s function. Here are some tips to help you correct your posture.

When standing, keep a balanced amount of weight on both legs, and bend your knees slightly. Make sure to keep your spine naturally curved with your head centered on top.

Walking is one of the best exercises for sciatica pain relief, but you must practice good posture to get the most out of it. Always move by starting each step on your heel and end by pushing off your big toe. Just like with standing posture, curve your spine, and keep your shoulders relaxed with your head centered on top. 

Leg raises

Dr. Chiu may suggest stretching the side of your body that is affected by sciatic pain. Moving through these leg raises can help reduce sciatic nerve irritation, but you should only practice if you aren’t in active pain. Here’s how to do them.

Sit down and stretch the leg on the painful side of your body, by placing your heel on the ground. Raise your leg to see how high it will go, without causing yourself pain. Then, return your leg to a relaxed and seated position

Next, stretch out the other leg, and place your arms around the back of the knee. Lift and pull that leg as high as you can. Repeat this 25 times, and stop if any pain does occur. After you’ve completed the first set, check the more painful leg to see if you can lift it any further than before. 

Return to the unaffected leg for another set of 25 leg raises, and conclude by lifting the leg affected by sciatica again for any sign of progress. 

Foam rolling exercises

Sciatica is sometimes caused by piriformis syndrome, when a narrow band of muscles in the buttocks gets inflamed. If you’re affected by this type of pain, buying a foam roller and stretching out your hip and leg muscles can offer you great relief.

Foam rollers can enhance your range of motion and flexibility, while eliminating muscle tension. It is best to use the foam roller before stretching, so you experience the most flexibility. At first, foam rolling can seem a bit uncomfortable as your muscles adjust to the feeling. After one to two minutes, your muscles will adapt, causing it to feel more comfortable.

Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a type of self-massage that uses tools — like foam rollers — to provide muscle and joint pain relief. The following exercise is an example of SMR that should be performed once a day to get the most out of it. 

Start by lying on your stomach and placing the foam roller under your thigh. Using your forearms as support, move the foam roller up and down the front of your thighs. Work the areas that feel tender for at least 30 seconds.

The bottom line

Sciatica pain shows up differently in everyone. If you’ve tried these activities with little relief, meeting with Dr. Chiu can help you get on the road to recovery. Many other medications and alternative therapies can help you live pain-free once and for all.

Contact us today to schedule your sciatica pain consultation.

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