Sciatica is a painful and common condition. The Sciatic nerve leaves the spine at the bottom of the back and from there travels through the buttock, down the back of the leg to the foot. If it gets compressed on its way down, pain results. The compression happens either at the base of the spine or in the buttock. The pain may be felt as a tingling, numb, or acute shooting sensation, or as muscle weakness.
There are several causes of Sciatica, including disc degeneration and spinal conditions. If you suspect you have one of these issues, consult your doctor.
The most common reason I treat clients with Sciatica is because of the nerve getting compressed by the Piriformis muscle, which lies underneath the glutes. This happens from too much sitting down, as in, from working at a desk or driving.
Having experienced Sciatica myself, I know how painful it can be and I also recognise the importance of keeping our lower back and glute muscles moving, especially as we get older. Any exercise that gets the glutei going is great for preventing Sciatica, such as sprinting on the spot, using a cross trainer or taking a brisk walk. Here’s some ways to treat it once you are in the painful stage.
Sit on a ball
This is a great way to release the Piriformis muscle, so good to find out if that’s the cause of your Sciatica (check with your doctor or massage therapist). Use a small ball that has some give but is also solid. A tennis, golf or kids’ bouncy ball can work well, or a squeezy or spikey exercise ball.
Sit on a stable chair and roll around until you find a sore spot. Stay on that spot for 2-3 minutes, or until you feel a release. I never drive without a ball to sit on, just in case Sciatica flares up.
If the bottom of your back is sore, you can also lie on the floor, put the ball underneath the sore spots and hold until you feel a release.
Please be careful with this exercise and stop immediately if it is causing you pain. You should feel soreness but not acute pain.
Pick one or two and do them at least once a day.
Here’s some lower back exercises from Darebee.com that may also help:
This information is designed for use in consultation with a trained massage professional. You attempt without supervision at your own risk, so go gentle and take care.