How Tight Hamstrings Affect The Sciatic Nerve
The hamstring muscles play an important role in supporting the mechanics of spinal movements, especially during flexion . When the spine bends forward, loads are distributed evenly between the lower back and the hip to facilitate a smooth bending movement.3
When the hamstrings are tight, the biomechanics of the lower spine and hip are altered. Over time, the following changes tend to occur:
- The pelvis tilts forward4
- There is an increase in the curvature of the lower spine4
- The mobility and load on the lower spine are increased during forward bending movements3
Increased spinal loads, abnormal curvature, constant movements, and repetitive stress on the lower back may cause sciatica to occur when the lumbar and/or sacral nerve roots are irritated.
Tips For Coping With Sciatica
Sciatica is one of the most common, yet misunderstood, types of pain. As many as 40% of people will get it during their life, and it becomes more frequent as you age. Sciatica tends to get lumped in with regular back pain, but it is different. The pain originates with the sciatic nerves and often goes away by itself within a few hours or days. However, some attacks can come and go for several weeks or even months. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to prevent sciatica, as well as relieve the pain.
How Your Walking Posture Affects Your Sciatic Nerve
Proper walking posture is important for people with sciatica as improper posture can aggravate sciatica symptoms. Watch ourVideo: 2 Walking Tips to Avoid Sciatica Pain
Sciatica occurs because a causative factor, such as a bone, disc, or muscle in your lower back impinges on your sciatic nerve roots. When you walk and stand correctly, you align your bones in a more effective way, creating a better pathway for the course of your sciatic nerve.
Read more about Sciatica Causes
Recommended Reading: Sprained Wrist Vs Broken Wrist
Make Sure You Have Supportive Shoes
For some people, their back pain is intensified by improper footwear. Before you hit the road, visit a full-service shoe store to make sure your shoes are properly fitted for good support.
Your shoes can make a tremendous difference in terms of how good walking feels. Find our recommendations for shoes for back pain here.
Stage : Gentle Exercise
Sciatica pain almost always subsides after a period of time, especially if the stage 1 advice above is followed. But if you return immediately to your former lifestyle without making any changes, sciatica is very likely to return. So here you must capitalise on this pain-free window by introducing some gentle exercise into your routine. Swimming is a great low-impact all-round exercise but can be a hassle depending on your access to a pool. Walking is also an excellent option and is much more accessible for most people. Whatever form of exercise you choose, theres no need to overdo it, just moving on a regular basis will suffice for now.
Recommended Reading: Mobic For Ra
When Your Sciatica Warrants A Visit To Your Doctor
Its important to recognize when at-home therapies arent easing your sciatica. If these treatments dont help you, it may be time to see your personal doctor or spine specialist.
People avoid the doctor for a variety of reasons. Maybe youre unsure about how to use your health insurance or you dont have any. Or perhaps you simply dont like visiting the doctor and prefer an ignorance-is-bliss approach.
Whatever the reason, some sciatica symptoms truly warrant medical attention. In rare cases, delaying medical care could lead to or cause permanent nerve damage.
If you experience any of the following, please see your doctor as soon as possible:
- You have severe pain in your low back and legs
- You experience nerve-related symptoms, such as weakness, numbness, tingling, or electric shock-like pain
- Your pain doesnt improve after 2 weeks
- Your pain gets worse, even when using at-home therapies
- You have loss of bowel and/or bladder control
Easing the extreme pain of sciatica doesnt always require an extreme treatment approach. Relieving sciatic nerve pain at home with gentle exercise, ice and heat therapy, proper posture, and medication may go along way to speed your recovery. But the most important thing you can do for your low back and leg pain is to take it seriouslyalways call your doctor if you arent experiencing relief.
Steering Clear Of Leg Pain On A Road Trip
When youre on a road trip, its easy to concentrate on your driving and forget how much you are hurting until your thigh and leg pain become too much to bear. Dr. Hayden said frequent stopsideally after each hour of drivingis the best way to prevent sciatica pain from sneaking up on you.
Get out of the car and walk two or three laps around the vehicle, Dr. Hayden said. I like to use the rear bumper as a prop. Placing one foot on the bumper, and the other about two feet behind you, lean into the bumper, squaring your hips with the lead foot. This will look like a hurdler stretch.
Dr. Hayden said to make sure you stretch both legs each time you take a break. Taking regular stretch breaks will help relieve the pressure in your low back, so that you can drive comfortably for another hour.
Don’t Miss: How To Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain In Lower Leg
How I Beat Sciatica
2. Controlled stretches. I stopped trying to release my own trigger points and just started doing one simple stretch a few times per day. That was thanks to the advice in the YouTube video below. What I like most about the stretch he teaches is that it gives you really easy control over the intensity of the stretching force on your piriformis.
3. McGills Big 3. While the foundation training in #1 is my favorite, these three exercises also seemed beneficial and were far less intense. I did the foundation training once per day in the morning or early afternoon and McGills Big 3 closer to bedtime if I didnt feel that I would be able to fall asleep with my level of pain at the time.
4. Sciatic Nerve Flossing/Gliding. I struggled with this at first because it was impossible for me to straighten my leg out in the air while sitting. However, I was able to add it at about 1 month in and found it very helpful afterwards.
Thanks for reading! If you benefited from this article Id appreciate you clicking that button and sharing it so that others can benefit too!
Walking Patterns That May Affect Your Sciatic Nerve
The way you walk and stand can affect the path of your sciatic nerve from your lower back to your foot. Incorrect walking patterns can cause misalignment, fatigue, and/or excessive stress on your lower back tissues, which can irritate or compress your sciatic nerve roots, causing sciatica.
The following walking patterns can increase stresses on the joints of your spine, alter your muscle activity, and/or increase the loads on your joints and discs, which may affect your sciatic nerve roots1:
Frequently engaging in these walking patterns can make your back muscles weak and over time, lead to lower back problems, such as growth of bone spurs, causing sciatica. If you have sciatica, these walking patterns can exacerbate your symptoms by increasing your sciatic nerve root irritation or compression.
Recommended Reading: Does Neck Pain Give You Headaches
When Not To Walk
Fischer stressed that your goal of treatment is to try to reduce the inflammation so that the pain gets better. So very often, we tell people with sciatica to limit their activity so that the inflammation goes down. And most often it will get better with rest.
When will walking make sciatica pain worse? Dr. Bartleson said that for some people the spine pain can be increased when they stand up.
If you put your hand in the small of your back, you get a little curve there when you stand up, Bartleson said, and that curve narrows the holes where the nerves leave the spine. That can actually increase your spine pain. Walking makes those people worse.
Those people are aided by a cane or walker, Bartleson said. Ive seen this especially in whats called lumbar spinal stenosis, where the spinal canal is narrowed so when they stand up, they get more pain, often more on one side than the other. Lumbar stenosis typically causes bilateral pain while sciatica is usually unilateral.
Physical therapist Gillanders specified when and when not to walk. When pain is greater than 7 out of 10, I have patients do nothing, just rest. Pain from 4 to 6 out of 10 is a yellow light, where I have people do shorter bouts of walking. Pain that is a 0 to 3 out of 10 is a green light; activity should be only minimally restricted.
Sciatica pain can range from mild to overwhelming. Remedies for pain relief included:
Recent evidence may prompt more doctors to prescribe physical therapy.
First Off What Is Sciatica
Sciatica is a fairly common condition caused by irritation and/or compression of the sciatic nerve, the bodys longest nerve originating in the lower lumbar spine and traveling down each leg to your feet. Once aggravated the nerve can cause anything from mild discomfort to painful tingling in your lower extremities, numbness or weakness in your legs or feet, and in some cases the inability to control your bladder or bowel movements. Symptoms may differ from episode to episode as the nerve covers a fairly large amount of bodily real estate, and can stem from a variety of root causes.;
Common causes for sciatic pain are irritation, inflammation, pinching or compression of the nerve either within the lower lumbar region or the deep gluteal region. Some conditions that cause sciatic pain are: poor body posture, a herniated disc , piriformis syndrome , spinal stenosis , spondylolisthesis , and/or an injury affecting the area. Once you know more about how and why your sciatic nerve flares up, you can apply one or all of the following at-home treatments for pain relief.;
Don’t Miss: Where To Put Electrodes For Knee Pain
Avoid Twisting Your Spine
You dont need to avoid isolated twisting motions but when you combine twisting motions with other movements like forward or side bending, this can aggravate the joints and muscles in your lower back, Dr. Singh says. A good example of what NOT to do is shovel snow or lift objects the wrong way, she says.
What to do instead: Learn the right way to lift objects. Make sure to do core strengthening exercises and stretch beforehand to improve your flexibility, range of motion, and prevent injury.;
Some Other Tips People Recommend Is:
- Experiment with your walking pace. Some people find walking faster is less painful, others prefer slower, mix it up to see which is best for you.
- Shorten your stride. Stride length is a big factor that can affect your sciatica. Many people find a long stride more painful so similar to varying your walking pace mix up your stride to see what feels less painful.
- Stand tall with a good posture, try not to slouch or let your head tilt forward. Keep your eye line level focussing on the horizon.
- Use a walking stick or cane to encourage and support proper posture make sure the stick is the right height so youre not leaning or crouching. Theyre also great for relieving some of the pressure on your lower spine by transferring some of your weight through your arms.;
- Remember to factor in your distances. If you havent been out for a walk for awhile you dont want to get 20 minutes from your house and realise youre in agony. Youve then got a 20 minute walk back! Better to do a few short loops around the block or up to the shops and back to help determine your limits.
Don’t Miss: How To Fake A Broken Wrist
How Are Sitting And Sciatica Pain Related
Sitting and sciatica pain are directly related through a mechanism that can best be described through a kids toy. The discs in your spine act as spacers and cushions between the spine bones. They are viscoelastic, meaning that they have the same properties as Silly Putty. Lets explore that a bit.
Silly Putty can both act like rubber and be its opposite. Fling a piece of it at the wall and Silly Putty will bounce back like a rubber ball. However, place a book on a chunk of the stuff and leave it there for an hour and it flattens out. This is called viscoelastic. Your discs in the back are the same.
Unlike Silly Putty, your discs have water inside them and specialized natural chemicals called glycosaminoglycans . Sitting a long time pushes the water out of the discs, causing them to flatten a bit. This effect is magnified as we age because the cells in damaged or degenerated discs dont produce as much GAG.
This results in less water in the disc, so when you sit, that lower amount of water is easily pushed out and the disc flattens . When this happens it bulges a bit and can place pressure on a spinal nerve, causing that zinging feeling down a leg.
Common Signs Of Sciatica That Demand Attention
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It runs from the lower back area to the heel of the foot. When it becomes irritated or inflamed, it can cause several symptoms. Residents of the Northfield area can count on Ohio Sports Chiropractic and Rehab to help them find a treatment plan to minimize the problems that the person is experiencing.
Don’t Miss: Do Muscle Relaxers Help Sciatic Nerve Pain
Stretching Your Lower Back
Many think their tight back is causing their Sciatica or Back Pain, and take steps to become more flexible in that area. In reality your tight back is often a symptom not the cause of your pain. Stiffness in the hamstrings, back and butt muscles are often because of an irritated disc and/or Sciatic nerve. You are not going to stretch the pain away.; Think of your lower back more like the foundation of your house. You want it to be strong, stable and secure! When you start adopting this mindset, and learn the proper way to move and exercise you will finally get the relief you have been looking for.
Words of Wisdom: Certain stretches can actually be beneficial for back pain, but the focus is more on adopting positions that help reduce a disc bulge or take pressure off the Sciatic nerve. For instance, we will often prescribe simply lying flat or propped up on your forearms while on your stomach.
Rounding your back while stretching might bring some temporary relief because of a stretch reflex, but the increased pressure placed on the disc and nerve actually cause more harm than good.
Back On Your Feet: Sciatic Pain Relief
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body, so its not surprising that when it flares up, it feels intense.
Sciatica often results from nerve compression due to a herniated disk in the lower;spine, where the pain generally starts.;Sciatic pain can fluctuate in terms of how much it may affect you and typically only affects one side of the body.
Pain can radiate from the upper legs down to the feet through the glute area and seem to make your lower half throb.;Sometimes you may not feel it at all, and other times it may be agonizing.;Most certainly, it can affect walking, running, sports, work, and life in general.
Many people rely on medications to alleviate sciatic pain. However, physical therapy and movement, in general, can help tremendously.
Albert Kaplan DPT, a physical therapist with OrthoCarolina Mooresville, offers some suggestions to help reduce your sciatic pain. If your pain is severe or becomes progressively worse, its time to call your doctor.
What stretches are best for relieving sciatica and sciatica-related pain?
Long answer: It’s complicated.Short answer: It’s complicated.
There is no single exercise that alleviates all sciatic pain, and an exercise that alleviates one person’s pain may aggravate another’s. Movement tends to be the best way to alleviate sciatic pain or leg pain that originates in the spine.
Why is movement effective for sciatic relief?
What are other movements or activities that can help relieve pain in this area?
Recommended Reading: What To Do If You Have Carpal Tunnel
Yoga Routines For Sciatica
This is a great full-body exercise that not only helps to heal sciatica but also helps to deal with the mental and emotional impacts of pain. Yoga for sciatica can be as intense or relaxing as you like.
In the acute stages of pain, your yoga might focus on gentle routines that move you slowly through a series of poses designed to relieve pain. As you feel stronger, you might move into standing poses and more intense hip openers.
Improve Core And Back Strength
The musculature around your spine and abdomen may be weak or overly tight, preventing it from supporting your body as needed. Poor posture and compromised muscles can impact the alignment of your spine, increasing your risk for lower back pain and sciatica. Gentle strengthening exercises that target your core and back will improve your posture and ability to respond to stress, reducing the likelihood and severity of back pain. While youre recovering from sciatica, you may want to avoid high-impact exercises, such as running and plyometrics.
Don’t Miss: Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Neck Pain