Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when you suffer from sciatica, but it can actually be very beneficial. Sciatica occurs when your sciatic nerve is pinched by a bone spur, herniated disc or other lower back problem, which leads to mild or intense pain that typically extends from your lower back to the back of your leg and all the way down to your foot. Doing certain things, like sitting too long or sneezing, can make this pain worse.
Sciatica can be treated at home with things like over-the-counter pain relievers and heat when it’s a mild case. You might think that you need to stay in bed or rest until the pain goes away, but staying active is important. Spending too much time in an inactive state can actually make the pain worse. Light to moderate exercise, which includes Pilates and stretches, can be done as long as your doctor says it’s safe. Stretching helps keep your muscles flexible, which can help your back heal faster. Certain Pilates moves can also accomplish this since these types of non-impact exercises focus on stretching and improving flexibility without having you do anything strenuous.
When it comes to Pilates, use caution while doing these exercises with sciatica. Your doctor should be able to recommend the types of Pilates moves that are the safest for you to do and let you know which ones to avoid. In general, you shouldn’t do any moves that require you to roll around on your spine, which could make your condition worse. The exact types of moves that will work best for you depend on what is causing your sciatica. If it’s due to a degenerative disc, Pilates extension exercises might provide the most relief. If a condition known as spinal stenosis is what’s causing your symptoms, you might do better with Pilates exercises that focus on flexing rather than extending.
If you don’t find the relief you’re looking for after trying Pilates and stretches, you still have other non-surgical options to consider. Functional Disc Rehydration is one of these. This procedure involves decreasing the pressure on your vertebral discs to help reduce pain and make your spine more stable.
To learn more about Pilates and other non-surgical forms of relief for sciatica, please contact the Illinois Back Institute. Our clinics throughout Illinois have been assisting those who suffer from back pain for years.