I got an e-mail from Liz asking for a way to relieve the pain of sciatica.
First, a bit of background info…..sciatica is a term for pain that radiates from the lower back, into the buttock and down the leg. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human system and it travels from the spine, exiting in the lower back and it goes down the leg all the way to the foot. Sciatica can be caused by many factors including poor posture (very common!), muscle spasms, wearing high heels (sorry ladies!), pregnancy, being overweight or disc herniations. The pain generally travels down one side of the body. Even though you might feel the pain in the leg, it’s important to understand that the cause of the pain is in the lower back.
Here’s a stretch that you can do to help stretch the tight muscles. It’s typically called a Figure 4 stretch but I like to call it the Pretzel Stretch because I feel like a pretzel when I do it!
Lie on your back with your left foot on the floor. Place your right ankle on the front of your left thigh. It looks like the photo below:
Now, pick your left foot up off the floor, hold the back of your left thigh and gently hug your left knee in towards your left shoulder (as shown in the next photo):
You will be feeling a stretch in the right hip, hopefully at the back of the thigh and deep in the buttock.
BREATHE!!! If this is intense for you, you’ll be inclined to hold your breath! Hold the stretch for 6 long, slow breaths.
Switch sides and hold for 6 breaths.
You will likely notice that one side is much tighter than the other! And it may be the side that is opposite to where you feel the pain! That is normal.
I recommend stretching the tighter side more often so you may want to do the tighter side a second time.
Try this stretch twice a day for a week and see if it gives you relief.
Please post a comment or e-mail me at Sherry@PersonalizingPilates.com if you have questions or need help! I’ll get back to you in just a few hours, promise!