Sciatic pain -- pain originating from the sciatic nerve in your spinal column -- can manifest as a sharp, tingling, burning or numb sensation that begins in the lower back and can spread through the buttock and down the leg. Sudden movements, such as coughing or sneezing, may aggravate pain. Yoga routines that stretch the spine and legs take pressure off the sciatic nerve and relieve pain.
Common Causes of Sciatica
Physical therapist Ron S. Miller writes in his December 2000 article, "Sciatica Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief," that exercise rather than bed rest is more effective for sciatica relief. Miller advocates yoga poses for relieving sciatic pain associated with herniated discs, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, isthmic spondylothisthesis, piriformis muscle tension and sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Miller suggests stabilization exercises as well as poses for sciatic relief, including Upward-Facing Dog, Child's pose and the Bridge pose.
Sciatica Friendly Yoga
Baxter Bell, M.D., director of California-based Piedmont Yoga Studio, estimates that 70 to 80 percent of American adults will experience low-back pain during their lifetime. Of this group,10 percent will be untreatable, developing chronic back pain. He suggests a form of yoga called Viniyoga. Viniyoga strengthens the hips, increases flexibility, and encourages relaxation using various poses including the Bow pose, Cow pose, Camel pose, and Extended Triangle pose.
Any pressure on the nerves in the lower lumbar or sacroiliac region of your spine can cause sciatic pain, according to Sarah Powers of Yoga Journal. She suggests avoiding poses in which your pelvis is on the floor and your body bends forward. Yoga Journal advocates a routine consisting of 28 sciatic-specific yoga poses ranging in difficult from the Mountain pose and Downward-Facing Dog, to positions that require practice such as the Eagle pose and the Noose pose. Designed to relieve sciatic nerve pain, these moves will increase lower body strength and flexibility and aid in pain relief.
Piriformis Muscle and Impingement
In the book, "Back Care Basics: A Doctor's Gentle Yoga Program for Back and Neck Pain Relief," Mary Pullig Schatz. M.D. describes yoga routines to relieve sciatic pain caused by nerve impingements from tight piriformis muscles and herniated discs. For tight piriformis muscles, Schatz suggests a modification on the Lord of the Fishes pose -- elimination of the spinal twist -- and a Revolved Triangle pose. To relieve pain resulting from a herniated disc irritating a nerve, Schatz suggests Mountain pose, Downward-Facing Dog, Push the Wall pose and Warrior II.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Sciatica
- Spine Health: Sciatica Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief
- Yoga Journal: Therapeutic Focus - Sciatica
- Back Care Basics: A Doctor's Gentle Yoga Program for Back and Neck Pain Relief - Mary Pullig Schatz
- Yoga Journal: Back Talk
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.