Easing the pain of Sciatica

As we grow older, wear and tear on the lower back and hips can produce incredible pain known as sciatica. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, down the back of each leg. If this nerve is pinched or aggravated the sharp, shooting pain of sciatica may result. In severe cases of sciatica surgery may be the only option, but if you are suffering from mild or intermittent sciatica you may be able to avoid the scalpel.

Consider a Feldenkrais class. This is a body awareness technique that retrains your brain to help you move your body in an easier manner. A series of one-on-one sessions with a Feldenkrais therapist may lessen the pain and broaden your mobility options too.

Rolfing is a full body structural integration technique which may greatly improve the condition. The Rolfer will endeavour to let the force of gravity move more readily through your body by eliminating the resistance you have built up against it over a lifetime of sitting in poor office chairs and holding yourself incorrectly as you walk. You’ll notice a difference after one session.

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Our resident yoga expert Dominique is full of great tips for those suffering from this debilitating condition.

First, from a seated position, with the legs out in front of you, bend the left leg and bring the left foot over to the right side of the right leg.
Extend the right arm and wrap it around the left shin until you feel a gentle stretch in the outer hip area.
Place the left hand either on the floor or on your back behind you. Make sure you are not slouching forward.
Inhale and lengthen the spine, then exhale to gently rotate the spine, chest and shoulders to the left.
Close your eyes and breathe smoothly.
Hold here for up to 1 minute and then inhale to lengthen the spine again and exhale to gently release.
Repeat twice on each side.

Next, lie prostrate, on your back with your legs straight out and your arms at your side.
Inhale and bring your right knee to your chest, hugging the knee towards you using the strength of your arms. Hold here for up to 1 minute, feeling the gentle pressure behind the right hip. Release and repeat on the other side. Now try both knees together and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Roll the knees in a circular motion from left to right.

The final posture is the most powerful one for sciatica but please be sure to follow the whole program first to ensure you are warm and open for this last one.

First, come to all fours. Bring your right knee in between your hands and gently ‘walk’ the right foot away from the thigh, increasing the angle between the calf muscle and the thigh.
Square the hips, ensuring they are evenly placed in relation to each another. Inhale, then exhale to slowly stretch the left leg straight back behind you as far as you can, keeping the kneecap facing the floor.
Bring your hands close to your hips to help support the weight of your torso, or use two blocks or bricks on either side of the hips to act as extensions of the arms.
Stay here, or even better, if possible, bend forward at the hips and lower the torso.

You can rest the head in the hands with the elbows bent, or come down lower if you can.
Be mindful of not overstretching the knees.
Hold this position for 10 breaths, or more if you can.
Don’t let the breath catch or become shallow if you are challenged, but rather focus on smoothing the breath, feeling the buttocks and lower back opening and releasing with each exhalation.
To release, gently come back to all fours and repeat on the other side.

Once you have completed the sequence, sit the hips back to the heels in child’s pose and relax for a few minutes, smoothing and deepening the breath.

Enjoy the space you have created in the lower back, buttocks and hips.
With yoga, clinical Pilates, Rolfing and Feldenkrais to choose from, sciatica sufferers have a good chance of walking painfree again.