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.
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.Â 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.Â A couple times in the three-year stretch I may have briefly attempted it but itâ€™s likely that it was not a real attempt.Â Put the icepack (get a big long one) on the lower back.Â 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.
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.Â 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.Â 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 Iâ€™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, itâ€™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 â€˜fixingâ€™ my sciatica for three years was spending too much time stretching.Â 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.