Shooting, burning, tingling aches down the legs on a regular basis . . . that's the painful reality for those suffering from sciatica.
The condition is relatively common, associated with irritated nerves, bones, or disks in the lower back muscles and spine, Dr. Charles Kim, MD, a physiatrist and pain management specialist at NYU Langone Sports Health, explains.
While Dr. Kim urges those with sciatica to avoid motions and exercise that cause and increase the painful symptoms until they subside, he says that strengthening the core muscles can help prevent future sciatica flare-ups.
Sam Becourtney, a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning coach associated with Bespoke Treatments NYC, agrees that the right moves can strengthen the soft tissue structures surrounding the spine and decrease pain.
Since sciatica greatly varies from person to person, Becourtney stresses the importance of easing into exercises slowly and getting any moves approved by your doctor. Activities that exacerbate any sciatica symptoms such as "forward flexions" should be avoided until symptoms start to subside and tolerance for this position increases.
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When treating sciatica, it's important to find an appropriate balance of strength training and mobility exercises to help protect the spine and reduce further nerve root inflammation, Becourney explains.
To get you started, he's created a general exercise plan around this concept that you can try at home or in the gym.
Start seated in a chair with back against a chair or wall.
Bring your chin down to your chest, then extend your one knee to straighten your leg in front of you.
Perform two to three sets of 10 repetitions for each leg.
It's important to note that the chin down, knee straight, toes pointed up combination will be the most provocative on the nerve, and thus you may need to start with a regressed version without the toes up or without the chin bent down until symptoms decrease.