August 2021 – Issue 29
The Ups and Downs of Sciatica
Sciatica is one of the toughest injuries that we see. It tends to end up becoming chronic, whether or not your sciatica starts from your low back or from your piriformis muscle being tight on the nerve, which will cause the sciatic symptoms down your leg. This is especially the case if it’s not taken care of pretty quickly. One of the things you want to do when you first start to feel it coming on is immediately go into your exercises. These are typically flexion-based or extension-based exercises, commonly referred to as McKenzie exercises.
You want to get into these, stretching out your piriformis muscle so it doesn’t get tight. Even doing some foam rolling massaging into the low back is a big help. If your symptoms don’t resolve after doing a couple days of these exercises, then it’s a good idea to get in with your physical therapist. This will give you in-depth, personalized manual therapy through your low back and hip. You’d also receive massage through the muscles, so that things don’t progress further. If it’s not addressed early and it progresses, that’s when it gets bad and becomes a greater issue. If you attack it quickly, it tends to relax faster and then you don’t have the issues.
Some of the other big things to really work on with sciatica are good core strengthening and a stretching program. This isn’t something you have to do every single day, but a couple times a week. This activates your core muscles and stretches out your hip and low back, so that you can stay on top of it. With any type of exercise, the more you do it, the better it becomes and you don’t end up having big flare ups!