The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It spreads from the base of the spine and the lower back down to the feet, passing by the glutes, thighs and calves. Sciatic nerve pain affects 40% of adults. It generally manifests as occasional chronic pain or tingling, and weakness in areas such as the knees. So how can you recognise and relieve sciatica?
Recognise the symptoms of sciatica
Generally, a person suffering from sciatica will notice at least one of these symptoms, if not more:
- Pain along the sciatic nerve, in the lower back, the glutes, the backs of the thighs or the calves.
- Reduced sensation in the legs and feet, numbness.
- Tingling / pins and needles in the legs, a burning, prickling or stinging sensation, little electric shocks.
- Weakness in the knees.
- Difficulties with bending at the ankles to put your heels on the ground.
- A loss of reflexes in the Achilles tendon and in the knees.
Relieve sciatic pain with these simple exercises
Inspired by yoga and Pilates, these positions, if practiced regularly (3 to 5 times a week depending on how serious your symptoms are), will improve your musculature and ease sciatic pain. In the end, and with repetition, these exercises can get rid of pain and prevent it from coming back. The basic rule of yoga is to breath in and out through the nose while doing the exercises, so as to get plenty of oxygen into the body.
In any case, remember to consult a specialist such as a physiotherapist, who will give you “official exercises” to help you feel better.
Standing posture in lateral half-twist
If you are not very flexible, this position is made for you.
Put your right foot on a chair, keeping your chest out, and put the heel of your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Turn the top of your body to the right, keeping your hips facing the chair. Hold this position for 30 seconds, keeping your back straight and your shoulders down, and repeat on the other side.
Lie on your back, without arching it, and bend one knee up to your chest, keeping the other leg out straight on the floor or 1/4 of the way up from the floor. If you feel any pain in your back or if your back starts to arch, bend the leg that is on the floor. With your hands, bring your knee in towards your chest. At the same time, push your leg in the opposite direction, and you should notice pressure. Keep your shoulders on the floor. Change legs.
Twist with both legs bent
Lie on your back, keeping your shoulders on the floor, and spread your arms out in a cross to form a T with your body. Bend your knees bringing your feet towards your bum, and lower both legs to one side. Without moving the top of your body, turn your head to the opposite side from your legs. Stay in this position for one minute and then change sides.
Twist with one leg bent
Lie on your back, bend your right leg to 90° and stretch the other leg out on the ground. Place your left hand on your right knee to lower it to the left, keeping the right leg bent. Stretch your right arm out straight, in alignment with your shoulders, and turn your head to the right. Stay in this position for 30 seconds and change sides.
This posture will allow you to release any tension in your back.
Sit back on your heels, breathe out through your nose and gently lower your chest towards the floor, stretching your arms out straight in front of you. Next, you can bring your arms back by your sides to completely relax the back, so as to relax the muscles in the upper back. If you are not flexible enough or feel pain, place your forehead on your fists or on a cushion. Hold this position for 3 to 5 minutes, beyond that, you may start to get pins and needles in your legs.