Sciatica is severe pain caused by compression and/or irritation of 1 of 5 nerve roots that are branches of the sciatic nerve. The pain is felt in the lower back, buttock, and/or various parts of the leg and foot. Prevention varies depending on the cause of the nerve damage. What do you know?
- Once the pain of sciatica passes, there are exercises, stretches and other measures that may prevent it from returning. A physical therapist can develop a complete, personalized program. Here are some steps you can take in the meantime:
- PRACTICE GOOD POSTURE. Stand up straight with your ears aligned with your shoulders, your shoulders aligned with your hips and your buttocks tucked in. Your knees should be bent slightly.
- DO ABDOMINAL CRUNCHES. These exercises strengthen the abdominal muscles that help to support your lower back. Lie with your back on the floor, hands behind your head and knees bent. Press your lower back to the floor, lift your shoulders up about 10 inches off the floor, then lower them. Repeat 10 to 20 times, once a day.
- WALK/SWIM. Walking and swimming can help to strengthen your lower back.
- LIFT OBJECTS SAFELY. Always lift from a squatting position, using your hips and legs to do the heavy work. Never bend over and lift with a straight back.
- AVOID SITTING OR STANDING FOR LONG PERIODS. If you sit at work, take regular breaks to stand and walk around. If you must be on your feet, prop one foot on a small block or footrest, and then switch feet throughout the day.
- USE PROPER SLEEPING POSTURE. Take pressure off your back by sleeping on your side or on your back with a pillow under your knees.
- STRETCH. Sit in a chair and bend down toward the floor. Stop when you feel just slight discomfort, hold for 30 seconds, then release. Repeat six to eight times.
- AVOID WEARING HIGH HEELS. Shoes with heels that are more than 1½ inches high shift your weight forward, throwing the body out of alignment.