Pilates and Sciatica

By Thomon Wardle

If you’ve ever suffered from pain from the sciatica nerve then you’ll know what a debilitating and irritating condition it can be. The sciatic nerve (which is actually the longest nerve in the human body) can be compressed and cause pain in the leg. This can interrupt sleep and prevent the sufferer from enjoying life quite as much as they would do otherwise.

The best approach to treat and prevent sciatica pain is to exercise.

My cousin recently suffered from this condition and was told by her physiotherapist to exercise every day. The physio prescribed 20 minutes of Pilates to strengthen the core muscles and either 30 minutes of swimming or brisk walking.

What causes sciatica pain?

Sciatica can be caused by a disc bulge on the spine, the general wear and tear of the spine and from piriformis syndrome. The latter is when the piriformis muscle irritates the sciatica nerve. The job of the piriformis is to assist with hip rotation. However, the sciatic nerve runs beneath it and the muscle can easily rub on the nerve, in particular if there is poor posture.

So how can taking a regular Pilates routine help with any of the lower back pain or sciatica issues?

Pilates is very focused on the strengthening of the core muscles. These muscles are very important and are what provide stability for the spine. With the spine being supported correctly, it’s possible to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves that can be caused by conditions such as sciatica.

You can relieve the pain from sciatica by ensuring that the spine is aligned correctly. This can be done by stretching muscles by exercise to loosen them up. In severe cases, some manipulation of the joint may be required. Quite often physios may put pressure onto the muscles that run through the legs to relieve tightness.

Pilates can then do its job by supporting the muscles, joints and nervous systems to work together. Without good control over these, the rest of the body will begin to try to compensate for what is lacking or going wrong. This can result in even more pain.

It’s critical to build strength and power in the lower back. Nowadays many people sit at desks for hours and hours a day. This can result in injury and strain. There are many different exercises to help with this in Pilates.

If you’ve suffered from sciatica and feel less mobile than you might, it’s recommended that you seek the advice of a physiotherapist or doctor. If you are start exercising your back and core muscles, then you can purchase a DVD that you can use at home for your Pilates exercises.

Thomon Wardle is an experienced practitioner of yoga and pilates exercises. His range of yoga DVDs are listed and available from his site http://www.getfitwithpilates.com where you can also download a free eBook worth £9.95


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