In this article we are going to talk about yoga poses you can do that will help alleviate the pain that sciatica causes you. Before we delve into the poses we are going to need to talk a bit about sciatica for those of you that are sure what this condition is.
So, let's get started!
What Exactly Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is an inflammation or irritation of one or more nerves in your back, most commonly the L5 and S1 nerve roots which travel from your lower spine down your leg.
There are three different types of sciatica: disc-related, radiculopathy (nerve root related), and neuropathy (nerves related). It is important to note that not all cases of sciatica are due to a herniated disk.
Symptoms of sciatica include; numbness, tingling, weakness, cramping, shooting pains, dull aches, muscle spasms, stiffness, soreness, loss of control over bladder/bowel function, constipation, diarrhea and/or incontinence, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.
If you have any of these symptoms it is best to consult with your doctor as they may be able to diagnose sciatica on their own but if you want to try some self-treatment options first then I am here to help you.
How Can You Manage Sciatica Pain?
There are many ways you can manage your sciatica pain and hopefully, some of them will work for you.
The first thing you should do is check if there is anything else that could be causing your pain. For example, if you suffer from arthritis, diabetes, or low blood pressure then this might also be contributing to your sciatica symptoms.
If you think this might be the case then you need to see your GP as they will be able to advise you on how to treat these conditions.
Your next step would be to see your chiropractor or physiotherapist who can assess your posture and provide advice on any postural issues that may be causing your sciatica symptoms, such as poor sitting position, slumping forward, etc.
They can also recommend exercises that might help strengthen muscles around your spine and pelvis so that they don't become weak. These exercises can help relieve tension and stress and therefore prevent further injury and problems.
The last thing you should do when managing your sciatica is to try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting every day.
Sitting for long periods of time without moving can cause prolonged tightness and tension in your body leading to chronic strain and compression on your spinal discs and joints.
Try getting up at least once per hour during the day to stretch out your legs and arms by standing up straight and shaking your body. This helps keep your circulation flowing and prevents further damage to your body.
How Can Yoga Help With Sciatica?
The benefits of practicing yoga are vast and include increased flexibility, improved posture, reduced stress levels, better digestion, improved circulation and balance, and overall health.
These benefits come when you practice regularly, so why not give yoga a shot and see how it helps you?
In our opinion, there are two main reasons why yoga works so well for sciatica. The first reason has to do with the fact that it helps improve your posture and reduce tension in the back.
When you tense up throughout the day you force your muscles to work harder which leads to greater strain on the body and can lead to injury.
By practicing yoga for core such as downward-facing dog, cat pose, warrior poses or cobra poses you are helping to strengthen your core and open up your hips making sure that your hamstrings and glutes stay strong.
This reliefs pressure off of your lower back allowing it to relax and reduces the chances of further injuries.
Secondly, by aligning your pelvis and opening up your hips you are also reducing the amount of pressure that your sciatic nerve is under. This allows the nerve to feel less strained and thus reduces the pain associated with sciatica.
Let's Look At A Few Yoga Poses For Sciatica
Okay, it is time for us to look at what yoga poses might help you with your sciatica symptoms. So, let's get started!
Balasana - Child's Pose
This is a simple, yet powerful pose that helps relieve tightness in your back. It is recommended that you hold this pose for 20 seconds every time you practice.
You should be careful not to put too much weight into your upper body while in this pose because you don't want to cause yourself further injury.
Adho Mukha Shvanasana - Downward Facing Dog
This pose is great for releasing tension in your lower back, especially after sitting for long periods of time.
When you are ready just release your arms and legs completely letting go of any tension in your body. This pose will help stretch out your hamstrings, calves, and quads.
Ardha Chandrasana - Half Moon Pose
One of the most common postures found in yoga studios, this pose is known as “the mother” and is very helpful for stretching out your spine.
To do this pose all you need to do is place one foot firmly on top of the other. Your hands can rest on your hips or place behind your head. This pose is perfect for anyone who wants to increase flexibility in their back and hip area.
Bhujangasana - Cobra Pose
If you've ever been to a Bollywood movie you probably recognize this pose. This does not only help in alleviating, but is also a great exercise for neck and shoulder pain.
In this pose, you lie down on your stomach with your arms raised above your head.
While lying down your feet should be slightly apart. Once you've achieved this position you slowly inhale and lift your chest and head off the floor until your chin touches your knees.
As you exhale, bend your knees towards each other and then bring them right up next to your ears. Repeat these steps several times.
Salabhasana - Locust Pose
For those suffering from sciatica, this pose is truly beneficial. The Locust pose strengthens your quadriceps muscles and stretches out your hamstring and calf muscles. Start by placing both your palms flat on the ground below you and raising your torso.
Then straighten your left leg and pull it forward until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Next, repeat with your right leg. Once you have completed these
Pawanmuktasana - Knees To Chest Pose
For this pose, you will need to lie on your back, and slowly draw your knees to your chest. Make sure to use your hands to really pull your knees as close to your chest.
If you want to get a really deep stretch try to lift your head each time you pull your knees to your chest.
Supta Kapotasana - Reclining Pigeon
The reclining pigeon pose is another great pose for relieving pain associated with sciatica. Lie on your back and gently press your thighs together, so your legs are perpendicular to your body. Keep your knees bent but make sure they aren't locked.
Place your arms beside your body and relax. Breathe deeply and imagine you're floating away from your physical body into nothingness. Try to stay here for 10 minutes or longer if possible.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge Pose
Also a great exercise for hip pain relief, this pose will need you to lie on your back with your knees bent and feet planted on the floor. Then rest your arms alongside your body with your palms on the ground.
Now, lift your spine and butt off the floor, raise your hips as high as you can, and slowly lowers yourself back down. Repeat this for at least ten reps before you allow yourself to rest.
Ardha Matsyendrasana - Half Lord Of The Fishes
You can do this pose by starting in a seated position and bringing your right foot to the outside of your left hip.
Make sure that your knee is pointed forward before you move on. Next, move your left foot to the outside of your right thigh and then move your left hand to the floor behind you. Finally, wrap your right arms around your left leg.
Viparita Karani - Legs Up The Wall
For this pose start by sitting upright on the floor. Bring one of your legs straight up against the wall and place your foot on the floor.
Hold your ankle with your free hand. Slowly roll your leg back until you feel comfortable and then hold it there. You can also use a strap or belt to help keep your leg stable while you practice this pose.
What Yoga Poses Shouldn't You Try If You Have Sciatica?
If you're looking to take yoga classes you may find that some poses could aggravate your condition. For example, most people avoid standing poses like Tadasana (Mountain) because it puts pressure on your lower back.
However, when practicing yoga we learn that anything in our lives that causes us discomfort needs to be practiced.
So even though it's uncomfortable to stand for long periods of time, we must still put ourselves through it.
The same goes for poses such as Marichyasana I and II. These poses require you to flex your hamstrings and therefore stretch them out.
While performing yoga for hamstrings is good for your health, it could be more uncomfortable if you have sciatica.
In fact, you should avoid all poses that cause any strain or tension on your groin area. Instead, focus on poses that work your core muscles instead. Try these:
At the end of the day, it is important that you listen to your body and only do yoga poses that are not going to push you too far and make life more uncomfortable.
Sciatica is a condition that can be debilitating and painful. If you've been diagnosed with sciatica, you'll want to seek medical attention immediately and get started on an exercise program.
That doesn't mean you can't try yoga, just make sure you don't overdo things!