Yoga for Sciatica
Written by Dr. Minakshi Welukar.
Yoga is a well established complementary approach to manage a range of orthopedic disorders. Effectiveness of yoga is no more lagging even in easing sciatic nerve pain.
Yoga is an excellent solution to alleviate pain and improve range of motion, for those who suffer from sciatica, which is pain in the lower back running all the way down the leg. Twisting and bending of the spine combined with muscle stretching and strengthening helps to improve spinal alignment and flexibility, along with reducing the pressure on the sciatic nerve itself. The benefits get added up when yoga is complemented with medical therapy.
Sciatica is one of the symptoms of orthopedic conditions like herniated disk, lumber spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, sciatic nerve injury or piriformis syndrome. This leads to sciatic nerve compression and inflammation resulting in pain and limitation of movements. Since the sciatic nerve is the largest and runs down the leg, pain typically gets noticed in your lower back radiating in the buttock and in the back of the leg. Additionally pinching of the nerve disturbs muscles and joints supplied by the sciatic nerve.
Beneficial effect of Yoga in Sciatica
Sciatic pain hampers daily activities of sufferers or sometimes even presents with sedentary life. Lack of movement stiffens the muscles and worsen such problems. On the contrary gentle yoga poses stretch and relaxes affected muscles, imparts flexibility and improves body movements.
Practicing yoga regularly help to achieve:
- Good spinal stability, alignment and posture.
- Releases nerve compression and relieves inflammation.
- Improves strength of muscles of spine, hips, groin and inner thighs.
- Improves body balance.
- Stimulates the nervous system to function at an effective level.
- Improves blood circulation to hips and legs to provide enough nutrients and oxygen to muscles.
- Economical, effective with long-lasting impact compared to conventional treatment approach.
- Imparts added benefits when combined with medical therapy
Recommended yoga poses for relieving the pain of sciatica:
Bridge pose, or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, strengthens the lower back and hips. The stretching of muscles from this area releases the tension and improves muscle functioning and imparts good range of motion.
Performing Locust pose, also called as Salabhasana, has a therapeutic application in soothing the sciatic pain. This back bending posture stretches the muscles of the spine and buttocks. Additionally, this move increases blood supply to hip area.
Backward bending of the body in a snake-like posture stretches the back and releases the tension from your muscles. Cobra pose, or Bhujangasana, strengthens the spine and firms the buttocks and can provide comfort from any sciatica pain.
Forward bending of the body achieved in a dog face, also known as AdhoMukha Svanasana, stretches the lower back and hamstrings. Downward dog helps to strengthen this area and is a great pose to help alleviate sciatic pain.
Seated Twist, or Ardha Matsyendrasana, is another pose having therapeutic benefits in managing sciatica. Twisting the body in a seated position energizes the spine and stretches your hips to release tension.
The beneficial effects of yoga poses greatly depend on the root cause of sciatica. Some yoga poses are contraindicated for those with sciatica due to aggravation of symptoms. Hence you must consult your doctor to know the root cause for your pain and learn the recommended yoga poses from a qualified yoga instructor.
- Read more of Dr. Minakshi Welukar.
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