sciatic support belt - A Guide To Exercises for Sciatica
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A Guide To Exercises for Sciatica

Why Exercise is Important Many doctors, physical therapists and other health practitioners recommend exercises for sciatica treatment and prevention. While bed rest or inactivity might be advised for the first day or so, extended activity allows the muscles to weaken and the pain can become worse. Sciatica exercises help to strengthen and stretch the muscles that support the back, alleviating the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Exercises for sciatica can also be beneficial in increasing circulation, which in turn provides oxygen and other nutrients to the discs in the spine, keeping them supple and healthy.

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A large amount of confusion and misunderstanding exists concerning the conditions sciatica and piriformis syndrome. There are some who insist that the two conditions are actually the same thing, but even though they can have symptoms that are very much alike, the underlying causes differ.

As mentioned earlier, the symptoms of true sciatica are very similar to piriformis syndrome. Both cause pain, tingling, burning, "electrical shock" sensations, and/or numbness down the leg, often all the way to the foot. In addition, both sciatica and piriformis syndrome tend to be at least partially related to biomechanical functional problems in the joints of the back and pelvis and they may even be present simultaneously in the same person, so it an be difficult to tell them apart.

Exercises are one of the most frequently used forms of sciatica treatment. They help a great deal in strengthening the muscles in the affected areas. However, it is very important to choose the correct type of sciatica exercises based on the underlying cause of sciatica in individual cases. It is always good to exercise with care and not to exercise when the pain is acute. Otherwise you will end up aggravating your pain.

Types Of Sciatica Exercises Sciatica exercises are divided into three categories. Though their main purpose is to relieve pain, each category targets a specific aspect of reducing sciatic nerve pressure so that the pain can be reduced. The exercise which stretch the muscles are called stretching exercises. Exercises which stabilize and strengthen muscles are called stabilizing and strengthening exercises. The third category of exercises called general conditioning exercises. These exercises are stretching hamstrings, stretching of lower back, and making the core muscles strong. These exercises specifically target muscles in the torso, abdomen and back. An exercise regimen that combines the exercises from these three categories is very effective in reducing sciatica pain and in preventing it from recurring.

There are exercises which target these areas to relieve pain. In case of substantial sciatica pain, doctors only recommend exercises that are mild in nature and do not cause discomfort. Lying prone, trying to touch the chest with both knees and pelvic tilt are the most common exercises that are suggested at this stage. You can lie on your stomach with a pillow for supporting you hips. Pelvic tilt requires that you lie down on your back, bend your knees to contract the abdominal muscles.

Food and sleep for relief There are types of food that you can eat that will help you to get healthy a lot faster than regular foods such as peanut butter. This is a great type of food to get a spoonful of a day; it keeps you going and helps your metabolism. Any nutritious food is good for you, especially if it has vitamins in it. Also, if you want to get to feel better fast and need Sciatica Nerve Relief, sleep will usually give you a great boost there is no better Sciatica Nerve relief giver. Sciatica just makes you very tired and makes you feel unable to exercise, which is not healthy and will not help you to get any better nor fix your nerves any time sooner.

Sometimes even one form of exercise is good enough to get rid of the pain. However, finding that right exercise and doing it regularly to get rid of the pain depends on the exact cause of sciatica. Your sciatica may be due to herniated disc or it may be due to piriformis syndrome that occurs due to the contraction of piriformis muscle in the area around the hips. You can stretch these muscles slowly to reduce contraction, loosen the tight muscles and reduce pressure on sciatic nerve.

Be active If you are suffering from sciatica then it will make you want to lie down and cause you not to be active at all. However, research has shown that if you are lying down or you're not active at all then the pain will just get worse. Push yourself to be active every day, even if it is just something like walking for 20 minutes or just stretching you muscles a bit. One of the best ways that will give you relief from your sciatic pain is with exercises and you will be amazed how much better you'll feel after doing a few exercises every day. However, be sure to know which ones to do as it could also cause you more harm if done incorrectly.

There are alternative forms of sciatica exercises too like Yoga. Yoga has many postures that can be used to provide relief from sciatica pain. All these yogic postures keep the muscles flexible and strengthen them which lead to faster healing.

Exercises for sciatica fall under three main categories: strengthening and stabilizing, stretching, and general conditioning. Including sciatica exercises from all three categories works synergistically to decrease the pressure on the sciatic nerve and can reduce the pain significantly. Many of the suggested exercises for sciatica target the muscles supporting the abdomen, back and torso, commonly referred to as the "core" muscles.

Exercise plays a leading role in treating sciatica. There are many sciatica exercises. These exercises are one the best ways of treating sciatica. They specifically target the muscles in lower back, thighs and abdomen area. Though doctors advise bed rest in case of acute sciatica pain, the muscles are still weak and this again brings back pain if physically demanding activities are performed.

Piriformis syndrome, also known as "pseudo-sciatica" (meaning "false sciatica"), is actually referral pain and other symptoms (tingling, numbness, etc.) caused by tightness and knots of contraction in the piriformis muscle, which runs from the upper femur bone to the edge of the sacrum, the triangular pelvic bone that is below the lumbar spine. The symptoms of piriformis syndrome are very similar and may be indistinguishable from true sciatica.

Always consult your doctor before you start on any form of exercise.

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Sciatica refers to irritation of the sciatic (often mis-spelled as syatic or psyatic) nerve, that arises from nerve roots in the lumbar spine. The most common cause of sciatic nerve irritation, or "true" sciatica is compression of one or more of its component nerve roots due to disc herniation or spinal degeneration in the lower lumbar region. Sciatica usually begins in the buttock area and, depending on the severity of the underlying nerve comression and inflammation, may extend down the entire leg to the ankle and foot.

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But since the most effective treatment for the two conditions varies signficantly, it is important to determine the correct diagnosis if at all possible. In most cases there is an easy way to distinguish between sciatica and piriformis syndrome.

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Two simple maneuvers will distinguish sciatica from piriformis syndrome in the majority of cases (when the problem is one versus the other and not both conditions at the same time). First, in a seated position, if one straightens the leg on the painful side (so that the leg is parallel to the floor), and the sciatica symptoms increase, this is usually a sign of true sciatic nerve irritation.

The second maneuver is done in two parts. First, from the sitting position one bends the leg and pulls the knee on the painful side towards the same-side shoulder. In all but the most severe cases, there is usually no major increase in pain in this position. The second part of the maneuver is to pull the knee toward the opposite side shoulder. An increase in the sciatica-like symptoms is a strong indication of piriformis syndrome.

It is important to distinguish between sciatica and piriformis syndrome, because the treatment for the conditions varies, and getting the diagnosis right typically leads to more effective treatment.

Target specific areas Targeting exercises to the root cause of the sciatic episode will help the condition more quickly. Multiple diagnosed conditions can cause sciatica. For instance, the two most common causes affect two different areas of the body. A herniated disc will compress the sciatic nerve in the lower part of the spine, while in piriformis syndrome the nerve becomes irritated by the tightness of a muscle in the hip flexor region. A trained health practitioner can help the sufferer to develop exercises for sciatica which will most effectively treat the condition.

Medication The medicines you take should all be prescribed to you if over the counter, if not, still ask your doctor all about the Tylenol you take. If it has to many milligrams in it or if it is too strong your doctor will let you know. When you first start seeing your new doctor you should always take your medicines with you to talk to him and let him know what you are taking. There are some medicines you may be taking that cause you to want to sleep and then there are some that will cause you to want to be lazy and when you are needing to exercise you need to be energetic and not have any involvement in medicines that will make you drowsy.

In some cases, piriformis syndrome may cause true sciatic nerve irritation, as the sciatic nerve may run underneath or even through the middle of the piriformis, so contraction of the piriformis may produce sufficient compression of the sciatic nerve to produce actual nerve symptoms. This is one of the main sources of confusion when it comes to distinguishing true sciatica from piriformis syndrome.

Suffering from sciatica can be quite irritating and it is definitely something that you don't want to allow happing. Here are a few tips that will help you get relief from your sciatic pains.

Prevent Future Episodes Once the pain has significantly subsided, many different types of sciatica exercises can help to further treat and prevent future episodes. Pilates, a program designed by Joseph H. Pilates, targets the core muscles through specific body and breathing exercises. Yoga is another discipline which helps to strengthen and stretch the muscles and spine. Physical therapists often have their patients perform exercises on a big balance ball. Keeping the ball stable works the core muscles that support the spine. Other exercises for sciatica can include swimming, walking and other low impact aerobic movements. Minimizing recurrences of sciatica can be as simple as doing exercises for sciatica on daily basis.

Examples of Sciatica Exercises In the most acute phase of sciatica, many practitioners recommend only performing exercises to the point of discomfort. Pushing to the point of pain may only cause more injury and further delay healing. An individual may only be able to do the most basic of exercises for sciatica. Three of the most common exercises recommended for this phase are the pelvic tilt, lying prone, and hugging one or both knees to the chest. The pelvic tilt is performed lying on the back with the knees bent and contracting the abdominal muscles. Lying prone can be as simple as lying on the stomach with a pillow supporting the hips. Once there is more improvement, the head and torso can be lifted as well. The last exercise is done while lying on the back and bending the knee to the chest. All of these exercises for sciatica should be done carefully and only if there is no pain.

Benefits Of Sciatica Exercises These specifically targeted exercise work because they work on the muscles that are crucial for supporting the back and reducing the pressure that affects sciatic nerve. These exercises lead to increased blood circulation. This results in healthy and supple spine and increased supply of oxygen and other vital nutrients to spine.

Doctor If you want to get sciatica nerve relief, then the best thing to would be to go to your doctor and ask him or her what you should do, and why aren't your exercises working. When you go to your doctor make sure to inform him or her of all the medications you have been taking or that you have taken in the past. This may have something to do with how your body responds to your treatments you are using to get your Sciatica Nerve Relief. There is no better way to find out what could possibly be causing you not to respond to your treatments than to consult with your doctor.

About the Author:

Dr. George Best is in private practice in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, check out Dr. Best's free e-book and online video course to assist in understanding and treating sciatica and piriformis syndrome, including in-depth instruction on sciatica exercises at .

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The author has helped many people to get sciatic nerve relief. Discover how you can get rid of sciatic nerve pain by visiting


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