Sciatica is painful and affects a lot of people, folks! It’s one of those things we just write off as pain that comes with age, but it can have a serious impact on your life quality. According to Harvard Medical School, this is something that an estimated 40 percent of people will have to deal with in their lifetimes (https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/sciatica-of-all-the-nerve), so it’s definitely worth talking more about.
If you’re dealing with this nerve pain, there are some things you can try to help ease it. Exercise is one, but it can be tough to approach it when you’re already concerned about how you feel. Try these three tips below to get into exercise without increasing your sciatica pain at the same time.
Use heat to stimulate the soft tissues
Apply some heat, such as a hot water bottle, gel pack or a warm bath, to your rear pelvis area about 15 to 20 minutes before you work out. This will improve blood flow to your lower back and help prepare your soft tissues for the activity. Heat boosts flexibility and decreases stiffness by stretching the muscles around the spine.
Start out with low-impact exercises
Don’t overexert yourself if you are new to working out or haven’t exercised in a long time. That’s how you end up injuring yourself or making your nerve pain worse.
Start slow, with just a 10-minute workout, and slowly increase the time as your physical condition improves. Water therapy, for example, is low-impact and can help ease pain related to sciatica. A stationary bike or elliptical machine are other things you can try. Just keep in mind that activities that jar the spine, such as mountain biking or running, can make your sciatica worse and should be avoided.
Watch your form
Your form is, simply put, how you hold yourself when you exercise. A bad form, such as slumping, will impact how the exercise affects your body and can worsen nerve pain and even result in injury. Always pay close attention to the proper form for the exercise you are doing, and be mindful while you work out so you are using the correct form at all times.
Exercising is good for your whole body, not just your sciatica, which is why it’s important to have regular workouts in your weekly routine. Keep in mind that new exercises can bring on some soreness–have ice packs at the ready to decease any inflammation after a workout!