5 Tips To Heal Sciatic Back Pain

Sciatica can be a debilitating condition. Men are prone to experiencing sciatic nerve pain but unfortunately, women don’t et a free pass, especially during pregnancy. After 4 years of pain and a recent disruption in my ability to walk, I have learned some simple strategies that have helped to alleviate the pain and bring back much of my mobility.

1. Rest

Rest is a tough pill to swallow when you feel motivated to get outside and have some fun. Rest is required or else the inflammation will never decrease.  If my mobility was ok, I would be sure to get into the pool or ocean. Other than that, walking can irritate pain quickly and rest is the best medicine.

2. Ice Packs

Perhaps this is obvious but I managed to avoid an icepack for over three years.  A couple times in the three-year stretch I may have briefly attempted it but it’s likely that it was not a real attempt.  Put the icepack (get a big long one) on the lower back.  Apply to the side where the sciatic pain is going. If it hurts on both sides, accommodate as needed. Place the icepack slightly above the buttocks, sit back and relax.

Back pain sciatic with anatomy graphic

3. Weight Loss

After dealing with this pain for a while it became clear that losing weight might help. To lose weight I stopped eating cookies for breakfast and night-time snack. I almost eliminated beer, reduced meat intake and eliminated potato chips, among many unhealthy snacks. In its place I began to eat mostly fruit during the day, with a light lunch in between. At night I eat what I want, usually a large dinner that is vegetarian or it has fish or meat. Eating multiple bananas (5-10) throughout the day gives me ample amounts of energy and I keep well hydrated.  When you can walk and move around, take advantage of it. Burn the sugar from all the fruit and have fun doing it.

4. Water Activities

Water provides excellent exercise without the pounding.  No matter if it is a pool, lake or ocean, swimming and walking in water can help get the blood moving throughout your body. It can also be an emotional lift, simple because you can walk normally again. When I would experience long periods of time without walking normally, it would feel great just to get in the water and pump my legs like I always did before.

A bicycle can be fun as well with less pressure on the sciatic nerve but I need to feel at least 85% to get on a bike, while I was say at least 40% to get in the pool.

The ocean is a great place to go as well, depending on the surf where you are at. Where I’m at now, the waves are generally a great size to body surf. So I walk out and let the waves crash into me and I body surf. There has been times that I get completely flipped around in the water and I feel great, after having a difficult time even walking to the beach. So with caution, I recommend getting in the ocean and letting your body twist around the waves and loosen up the muscles. Or, if you don’t live by an ocean, just splash around and enjoy.

5. Hot Showers

My preference has always been to take a hot, steamy shower. But hot water hitting sore spot feels really nice. It is rare that I leave the shower feeling worse than when I went in. In fact, it’s never happened and the hot water helps. Followed up with an icepack and the painful knot that had been bothering you might disappear.

There are many other things to keep in mind, especially in terms of diet in preventing inflammation. Eliminating the whites like flour, salt and sugar is a good start.

As far as exercise, there many things I like to do just to test my true mobility in a given moment. This includes and swivel motion while standing and some other simple moves with my arms, in a motion similar to swimming.

One of the big mistakes I made while I was ‘fixing’ my sciatica for three years was spending too much time stretching.  Stretching itself is not a mistake but to stretch and neglect to let the body rest is a mistake. Or as I was doing, not properly resting and never using an icepack.

Stretching is preventative more than anything and consistency will provide results.

I could provide a lengthy breakdown into multiple sub-categories for people with sciatica and just might in the future. For now, stick with the 5 point plan above and you should be on the road back to real life.

About the Author

Jesse writes for JGSupplements. He blogs about issues surrounding food production, eating raw and alternative health options to common problems.

Jesse Herman

Jesse is the founder of The Natural Independent. In addition to blogging he produces video and develops websites.

7 thoughts on “5 Tips To Heal Sciatic Back Pain

  • April 14, 2015 at 9:11 am
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    this sounds great. i can walk and rather well as it happens, my job as dist of course involves walking each time, sometimes it kills me, today not so bad. i do stretch, probably too much and i do not feel any benefit at all. i havent used an ice pack yet actually i do not have one, so ive improvised, but it didnt do anything. a hot shower is good. i must admit, im reluctant to rest, im quite busy normally, working and gymnastics coaching (coaching when i can), i work more. the pain can be quite brutal sometimes, like a million knives in my leg, then i have to surrender to it and rest for hours, sometimes a whole day is wasted; i hate that.

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  • March 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm
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    Wonderful tips on healing sciatic back pain. I would also add that Massage and Yoga are wonderful for helping relief the tight bound Piriformis muscle which is many times a culprit in sciatic back pain as it presses on the sciatic nerve. Glute muscles in the butt are also times tight and causes sciatic pain due to muscles pressing on the sciatic nerve as well. In the lower back, massage and yoga can help relieve tight bound lower back muscles which can help give relief to the vertebrea which may be impinging a sciatic nerve and causing pain.

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  • February 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm
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    An infrared heating pad is really helpful for pain relief and speedier healing of sciatica. You can read more about how it works:

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  • February 21, 2013 at 5:30 am
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    I found that strengthening my lower back with deadlifts and squats resolved my sciatic pain completely.

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  • February 20, 2013 at 8:38 am
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    How about yoga? I suffered with debilitating sciatic pain for years. Yoga, most of all, and rest, diet (eliminating the garbage) saved me. It’s tough when you are prone to sciatica and you have a sit-down job. I make it a point to get up and move frequently.

    I rarely have flare-ups any more, but when I do rest is #1. I have also found recently that massage is helping to undo the long term effects of chronic sciatica.

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  • February 20, 2013 at 8:18 am
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    Sciatica is so painful. Mine lasted two weeks, but has left numbness in part of my right calf, ankle and foot. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get rid of that?

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    • March 16, 2013 at 11:20 am
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      CATT, your best bet is to see a physical therapist for advice tailored to your needs. I’ve treated many people with sciatica and I use a variety of techniques to help the client. There are some general things you can do to help yourself out though. Try reading my blog post on sciatica treatment options to give you some ideas.

      http://exercisebasics.blogspot.ca/2012/05/sciatica-part-3-treatment-options.html

      I can’t stress enough though that seeing a health care professional is key to get a personalized program.

      Reply

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