Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Yoga to help relieve pain- sciatica

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The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body.  Its roots are on either side of the spinal cord. Several nerve roots pass through the sacrum and merge to form the sciatic nerve on each side of the body.  The nerve then passes through the buttock, down the back of the thigh and to the lower leg and foot.  Irritation of a branch of the sciatic nerve is usually felt as buttock or leg pain but may also be felt as weakness, numbness or tingling.

Sciatic pain may be caused by a tight piriformis muscle in which case you could follow the last video and blog post, http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/yoga-to-help-relieve-pain-piriformis.html

More commonly however sciatica is a symptom of another problem such as a herniated disc.  Such discs cushion the vertebrae but may 'bulge' as a result of poor posture or injury.  This in turn presses on a nerve which then may result in sciatica symptoms.  It is very important therefore that you consult a medical practitioner to get a diagnosis and advice before doing any exercise including yoga.  If you do have a herniated disc the medical practitioner may prescribe rest initially, pain killers, muscle relaxants, physiotherapy, steroid injections or rarely surgery.  Before attempting a yoga practice do ask your medical practitioner. It is best to avoid practicing yoga while you are in the acute phase when many movements might aggravate your condition.  Never practice if you are in pain or your pain is masked by pain killers.

There are some poses I would not recommend you practice if you have sciatica. Forward bends are definitely not advisable.  This is especially true of straight leg forward bends.  I would also not advise side bending poses such as Triangle, Side Angle Pose etc.  Some people with sciatica find twists helpful but equally some do not so I would not recommend these either.

Your yoga practice should be gentle.  Move into poses slowly, and if you feel any discomfort, any numbness, any tingling and especially any pain, stop doing the pose.  In the video my focus is to correct any poor posture, to lengthen the spine and to strengthen the back muscles. Hamstring stretches are also included since tight hamstrings can make sciatica pain worse. We end the practice with a healing meditation.


Janet x

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