Sciatica refers to pain arising from the sciatic nerve, which branches from the lower back, hips, and along each lower leg, according to MayoClinic.com. The pain associated with sciatica varies in severity. Walking has been known to trigger this pain if the activity causes the sciatic nerve to become impinged. Treatment can relieve the pain. But people suffering from sciatica should consult a doctor to determine their best options for managing the condition.
Sciatica causes varying degrees of pain usually along the hips, lower back and legs, says MayoClinic.com. Pain varies from mild aches to sharp, burning sensations that are quite excruciating. Sciatica usually only affects one side of the body and is aggravated by prolonged sitting. Numbness is another possible symptom of sciatica. Other times, sciatica causes a numbness in one part of the affected area and pain in another. Extreme pain is usually a sign that it’s time to seek medical advice.
Low-impact aerobic exercise such as walking is an effective way of strengthening muscles in the legs, stomach and back without straining back muscles excessively, the NYTimes Health Guide notes. Regardless of its efficacy, walking should be seen as part of a larger program meant to build endurance, increase flexibility and help provide a means of managing the condition. Walking exercises should be incremental and may start within two weeks of symptoms appearing, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes. Sciatica patients should avoid jogging or walking in a way that puts unnecessary strain on the lower back until the muscles have grown stronger.
Developing flexibility is important to sciatica patients. Stretching is a way to develop and maintain flexibility, which can help reduce the symptoms of sciatica, Spine-Health.com notes. Sciatica patients should focus on stretching the muscles that are prone to pain such as the lower back and hamstrings. Stretching should be done regularly but should also be gentle to avoid aggravating symptoms. Stretches like the deep glute stretch that help give flexibility keep minimize pain, FitnessBlender.com notes.
Sciatica patients also benefit from exercises such as yoga, tai chi and strength training, NYTimes Health Guide notes. These exercises help make the lower back muscles stronger and more flexible without aggravating the sciatic nerve. Other exercises that help are partial situps and the pelvic tilt. Improvement from this sort of physical therapy usually starts to manifest within three to four weeks. Patients should always seek medical advice before engaging in any sort of physical therapy to avoid making their symptoms worse.
- FitnessBlender.com: How to Workout with Sciatica: Ideal Sciatica Workouts
- MayoClinic.com: Sciatica
- NYTimes Health Guide: Sciatica Exercise and Physical Therapy
- Spine-Health.com: Sciatica Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Back Pain and Sciatica - Exercise and Physical Therapy
Joseph Pritchard graduated from Our Lady of Fatima Medical School with a medical degree. He has spent almost a decade studying humanity. Dr. Pritchard writes as a San Francisco biology expert for a prominent website and thoroughly enjoys sharing the knowledge he has accumulated.