Hello. Are you a chronic pain sufferer like me? Is sciatica pain your problem? Do you think you shouldn’t exercise because of the pain? Read further to find out why you should use exercises for sciatica pain.
What is Sciatica Pain?
Also called sciatic neuritis, this is pain that originates from the spine. Usually a herniated disk or bone spur pinches the nerve, thus causing the pain. The pain can radiate down the nerve; in the buttocks, back of the thigh, calf and even the foot.
It is usually a stabbing sharp pain, but can be milder or even excruciating. Most sources say it usually resolves in a few months. But my pain is not sciatica and mine hasn’t resolved for years.
I hope you are in the category where yours will resolve soon. But if not, read further for some exercises that may help you feel better. Also, if you want further information about sciatica, see this Mayo Clinic article.
Why Should You Exercise When You Have Pain?
Short answer, and to quote my physical therapist; motion is lotion. So the only time you shouldn’t exercise is if doing so will cause more damage. Therefore, consult with your doctor and/or physical therapist to make sure you won’t hurt yourself.
But otherwise, movement keeps the joints lubricated and the muscles working. The stretches I do provide a loosening of tight muscles and tendons. My PT also told me that if I don’t keep moving everyday, I won’t be able to move in 10 years. And I sure don’t want to be in a wheelchair if I can help it.
So move it or lose it. And exercise does release endorphins, the feel good hormone. Basically, exercise can be a natural pain remedy. That’s why you should exercise even if you have pain. Our bodies were made to move!
Because of the release of feel good hormones, we experience not only pain relief, but usually feel better emotionally and mentally. And don’t we all want that?
Some Exercises To Try to Manage Sciatica Pain
The following are just a few of suggested exercises/stretches to try. They are a result of my research only. Talk to your doctor before you start anything new.
Reclining Pigeon Pose
Seated Pigeon Pose
Forward Pigeon Pose
This one is too hard for me. So try this gradually.
Knee To Opposite Shoulder
Seated Spinal Stretch
Standing Hamstring Stretch
These Stretches/Exercises Might Relieve Other Pains
I have been advised to do stretches to assist me in managing my spinal stenosis pain. The simple activity of just moving can have profound positive effects on our body and mental state.
I urge you to try one or two to start, and do them regularly. Keep track of how you feel and note any improvements.
I use two different programs for my stretches. I have reviewed them on this site. Check out one here; Jane Adams Gentle Yoga.
I do these stretches even when I don’t feel like it. Even when I am in pain. Because I usually feel better after doing them. My philosophy is to be proactive about managing my pain, and if these stretches help me to do so, then I’m doing them!
Be Careful When Exercising
At the risk of saying this too much, please use caution when starting any new exercise or stretching program. My advice:
- Be in communication with your doctor about what you plan to do, be it stretches or exercises
- Start with a minimum; a few exercises for a few minutes
- Work up to a longer period; say half an hour
- Keep at it to see results
- Keep track of how you feel before and after so you can be aware of results
Other Practices to Manage Your Pain
Here are some other habits you can start to manage your pain. I have gleaned these from all my reading and research.
- Don’t stay in one position for too long. I get up every ½ hour by setting a timer, and move around a little.
- Reduce sugar, which promotes inflammation, which we don’t want
- Find a hobby or a class that will distract you from your pain
- Help someone else; this takes your mind off yourself and your pain
I am not a doctor, just a pain sufferer. I search for remedies for my pain almost daily. Time and again the subject comes up that exercise is vital to manage your pain. Currently I do stretches twice daily and get in ½ hour of exercise, even if it is just walking (which is painful). Can you do something similar?
Again, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
What have you been doing to manage your pain? Please leave your comments below to let everyone know. I believe this community of pain sufferers needs to support each other. Your comments or questions might help another sufferer.