Sciatic pain can be at best annoying, at worst debilitating. In my role as a yoga teacher, I routinely meet students who share with me their experiences with sciatic pain. I always offer compassionate, professional suggestions as to how to modify their yoga practice to avoid further aggravating the sciatic nerve. Then one day, I learned first hand what sciatic pain felt like.
Experience Is the Best Teacher
One morning after a routine walk around my neighborhood, I discovered a pins and needles sensation on the right side of my posterior. That’s right, I had a pain in the butt. I dismissed it as a spasm but as the weeks went by the pain increased. I consulted with my health care provider and learned that I did in fact have sciatic pain. Discovering its cause was my first priority.
Cause and Effect
Sciatic pain is generally caused from pressure on the sciatic nerve. The nerve runs from the lower back right down the back of each leg. My back is healthy and I’ve never experienced any sort of back pain. I talked to my doctor, but ultimately it was a physical therapist who suggested I was dealing with tight piriformis muscles. My own yoga teacher, who specializes in yoga therapy, suggested some yoga poses to add to my routine. The poses proved challenging but convinced me my buttock muscles were the source of my pain.
If you discover that your cause is similar, consider adding some yoga stretches to your exercise routine to target those buttock muscles, and help loosen up the pirifomis. I noticed almost immediate results by practicing a few very basic yoga poses such as pigeon pose and spine twisting pose.
Consult Your Health Care Provider
Yoga teachers, fitness trainers, and other sports related instructors are highly trained specialist in their field and can be great sources of information and guidance. However they are not doctors and should not be relied upon for making medical diagnosis.
Dealing with sciatic pain is not always as easy as stretching a few muscles. Other possible causes are a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or other conditions which can cause an inflammation response at the sciatic nerve. Work with your health care provider to ensure any physical activities you participate in do not worsen the condition. There are also several treatment options available including physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and medication.
Staying Active Is Key
In almost all cases, exercise can be of great benefit in building core strength and allowing the spine to experience greater flexibility and range of motion. Becoming stronger and more flexible, in conjunction with appropriate treatment is the best approach.
Most importantly, don’t give up hope! When pain is present it often seems like it will last forever. Keep focused on finding and treating the source of your pain. Chances are good that eventually you will find relief.