Sciatica, at its most basic level, is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs from the spine down to the feet – which is why your sciatic pain often feels like electric “shocks” throughout the lower limbs.
If you’re suffering from sciatica, you may feel like you don’t want to do any exercise or physical activity. This is understandable – especially if pain is severe. Even so, it’s vital to stay active to prevent your muscles from becoming weak and stiff.
The best way to do this is through a guided sciatica exercise program. By using a combination of strengthening and mobility exercises, you can maintain strength and reduce compression of the sciatic nerve. This can lead to a relatively quick improvement in pain levels.
You shouldn’t just Google a random set of exercises for sciatica though. This is a common mistake – but can lead to increased pain and recovery times. It’s also one of the main reasons why people who use sciatica exercise programs don’t successfully reduce their pain.
Why Sciatica Exercise Programs Are Often Ineffective
Sciatica can be caused by a range of different problems, including a herniated disc in the spine, spinal infections, repetitive injuries, enlarged ligaments…and many more. Performing the wrong exercise for the underlying cause of your sciatica could actually make your pain worse – and may increase the time taken for a full recovery.
If, for example, your sciatica is caused by excessive bending of the spine, then exercises to increase the lumbar range of motion could make the condition worse. In contrast, these same exercises could potentially be effective in treating sciatica caused by excessive muscle tightness around the sciatic nerve.
This is why you should be extremely careful when finding a sciatic exercise routine online. In fact, unless the program recommends different exercises for each cause of sciatica, it is probably best to avoid it.
Creating an Effective Sciatica Exercise Routine
There’s an even bigger problem with many sciatica exercise programs. While a basic program may provide short-term relief, many don’t include the essential components required for long-term success. An effective program must include:
- Exercises to prevent muscle weakness without aggravating your existing condition.
- A system for gradually increasing intensity to build up strength and reduce pain.
- Exercises to reduce stress on the lower back.
- Structured exercises that are designed specifically for the underlying cause of your sciatica.
- A complete guide to the correct form for each exercise – so that you don’t accidentally aggravate your condition or even cause a new injury.
Without these components, an exercise program is unlikely to make a lasting difference to pain levels. There may be some short-term relief, but the underlying problem will often return quickly.
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