15 Feb Sciatica
What is it?
Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain that is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet.
When the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, it can cause pain, numbness and a tingling sensation that radiates from your lower back and travels down one of your legs to your foot and toes. The pain can range from being mild to very painful, and may be made worse by sneezing, coughing, or sitting for a long period of time.
Some people with sciatica may also experience muscle weakness in the affected leg.
While people with sciatica can also have general back pain, the pain associated with sciatica usually affects the buttocks and legs much more than the back.
How can Pilates help?
Treatment for sciatica is not always necessary, as the condition often improves naturally within around six weeks. It is recommended that you stay as active as possible if you have sciatica. Exercise such as Pilates can help by stretching to reduce the symptoms (such as lumbar spine stretches in a semi-supine position) and strengthening to develop core muscles to support the back. Pilates would also seek to increase mobility in the hip joint, trying to move within a pain free zone throughout exercises.
Pilates focus on the whole body and in particular the core muscles will be helpful for people who are suffering from or susceptible to sciatica. Focussing on the abdominals, glute muscles, pelvic floor and deepest spine muscles as stabilisers for the body will reduce any reliance on the wrong muscles for both movement and stability through your body. This will lead to improved posture and more efficient movement for the body as a whole.
Always ensure that you are working with an experienced and qualified Pilates teacher and seek advice from your health professional before embarking upon any exercise.
Other sources of information