Today’s blog was written by Dr. Kurt Edeker. He has seen and treated many patients suffering from sciatica and has a few tips to share for finding sciatic pain relief.
Sciatica. The mere term strikes terror into the hearts of everyone – from athletes to desk jockeys, to senior citizens. Ok, terror might not be the right word, but sciatica does cause problems for many people just trying to live a pain-free life.
Sciatica can be caused by many mundane actions: from sitting too much to improper deadlift and squat form, to everyday wear and tear.
Sciatica is generated from irritation to the nerves in the lower back. It radiates down the glutes, into the back of the leg, past the back of the knee, and can sometimes be felt in the foot. True sciatic pain can be caused by disc bulges, herniations, bone spurs, or pinched nerves. There are several other conditions that can mimic sciatic pain but aren’t related to sciatica. This can cause problems with properly addressing and treating sciatic-like symptoms.
Injuries That Cause Sciatic Pain
Some injuries and conditions that can mimic sciatica include low back strains, piriformis syndrome, IT band issues, and a good old-fashioned hamstring muscle pull. Not only can these issues cause sciatic-like symptoms, but they can also compound each other. How can these conditions so easily impersonate sciatica? Any part of your body that lays next to the sciatic nerve can influence the sciatic nerve.
Here are a few big bad red flags to watch out for if you think you might have sciatica. If you start losing power in your leg, finding it hard to pick up your foot or start having poor control of your bowel or bladder, don’t hesitate to contact your primary care provider.
Exercises for Sciatic Pain Relief
If you’re tired of pushing through the day with sciatic-like pain, below are a few simple techniques to help relieve the pain.
Foam Roll the Glutes, IT Band, and Hamstrings
If you have never foam rolled before, you are in for a treat. By freeing up the IT band, hamstrings, and glutes, you can help improve hip and knee mobility.
The key to effective foam rolling is to GO SLOW. When you find an uncomfortable or sore spot, keep the pressure on it and wait until the intensity of pressure begins to fade. Then, move on and seek out the next sore spot.
The sciatic nerve runs under the glutes and piriformis, so your goal is to get those areas to relax and loosen up. Start by foam rolling your glutes, then moving down the chain into the IT band and hamstrings. People who spend most of the day sitting are also likely to have tight hamstrings, so foam rolling your hamstrings will help to loosen them up after a long day.
Target Specific Spots with a Lacrosse Ball
Lacrosse ball massages tend to be more direct and targeted than a foam roller for specifically painful areas.
Sit on a bench or table and place a lacrosse ball under your thigh. When you find a sore or sharp spot, hold for no more than 15 – 20 seconds while straightening your leg. You will feel the hamstring lengthen on top of the lacrosse ball. When you get your leg straight, slowly pull your toes upward. Repeat the steps above in other areas on your thigh for up to 2 minutes. Properly functioning and relaxed hamstrings will help alleviate sciatic pain, low back pain, pain from lifting, and any forward-bending issues. Discontinue the use of lacrosse ball if you experience tingling, sharp, stabbing or throbbing pain.
***Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.
Strengthen Your Legs
Check out our Injury Spotlight video for more foam rolling tips, exercises, and stretches to strengthen your legs and relieve sciatic-like pain.
Don’t Let Sciatica Hold You Back
Try these techniques for a few days and see if you can take the edge off your sciatic pain. If your pain doesn’t let up on its own, give Airrosti a call. Our experts will create a customized treatment plan to quickly eliminate your pain at its source. We can help you relieve your sciatica for good and get you back to doing the activities you love most, pain free.
Read our medical disclaimer here.