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Is Yoga Good For Sciatica Pain



When Developing A Sequence For Sciatic Pain Understand That What Works For One Person Might Not Work For Someone Else Because The Sources Of The Sciatic Pain Might Be Different

 

I have a client that struggled with daily sciatic nerve pain for 5 years before she began working with me. Very, very slowly, I introduced different movements into her program. The one thing that still provokes pain is supine hip flexion, abduction, and external rotation, so we don’t do that. As a result, reclined pigeon is not a good choice for her. She now has days where she is completely pain free, and I am hopeful that eventually she will be able to do reclined pigeon without provoking symptoms. Her sciatic nerve pain comes from an injury related to a fall. Five years of pain doesn’t go away over night; by working slowly, methodically, and with a sense of mindfulness, she has been able to make significant improvements in pain level, strength, and mobility.

My point , is we can’t look inside someone to know what’s going on, either emotionally or physically, nor should we try. It is outside our scope of practice. In yoga, we use the asana as a bridge to teach self-awareness and mindfulness.


Maybe The Exact Asana Matters Less Than The Understanding It Brings Including The Ability Of The Student To Reflect On What Seems To Help And What Seems To Hurt

 

While researching this blog, I was sitting on the ground outside my studio, with anatomy books spread out. A gentleman stooped down, curious about what I was studying. I explained I was writing a blog on yoga and sciatica. He became very animated as he told me about his lumbar fusion and the role yoga played in his healing process. He then folded forward into a standing forward fold to demonstrate his mobility. Forward folds feel great for him. However, backbends feel less great, so he does fewer of those. It is this self-regulation we can hopefully teach our students to empower them on their paths to lives filled with diversified movement, mobility, and awareness.

Q & A with Jules


Jules: Awesome contribution to the yoga community, as always, Jenn. We all thank you! I’d love to explore some of these themes further with you if you don’t mind.

Jenn: Yes, of course! Not only does reading through research and writing about anatomy and its applications make me happy , but exploring these types of concepts and critically thinking about working with people in a yoga/movement setting is a bit of a passion. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of the conversation.

_____________________________________________

  • Kelley, G.A., & Kelley, K.S., . Meditative movement therapies and health-related quality-of-life in adults: a systematic review of meta-analyses. PLoS One, 10, 1-33.
  • Rooper, A.H., & Zafonte, R.D., . Sciatica. New England Journal of Medicine, 372,1240-1248.
  • It Appears There Is A Slight Discrepancy Between The Research And What Consumers Are Being Promised

     


    This isn’t to say yoga doesn’t help with sciatica. As noted in the studies above, the early research appears promising. It does, however, mean re-examining the guarantee of yoga as a “cure” . Exactly which asana are consistently promoted on the path to the sciatica cure? Variations of pigeon pose, gomukhasana, and ardha matsyendrasana.

    I am hopeful that by shedding some brief anatomical light on the sciatic nerve, documented causes of sciatic nerve pain, and how this may or may not relate to the piriformis , we as yoga practitioners can be a little more careful in our words and perhaps approach back pain with a more discerning eye.

    First, a little bit of anatomy. The sciatic nerve innervates the posterior portion of the thigh . It is comprised of spinal nerves coming from lower lumbar vertebrae and sacral vertebrae, specifically L4-S3. It is important , and exits the pelvis below the piriformis via a hole named after it, the greater sciatic foramen. While it does not supply any of the structures in the gluteal region, it does supply branches to the hip joint and muscular branches to the hamstrings .


    The next logical question is what exactly is piriformis syndrome and how does this relate back to yoga? I am going to explain the function of the piriformis, what this has to do with sciatica, and how the interpretation of piriformis syndrome as a cause of sciatica has seeped into mainstream culture.

    The Sciatic Nerve Piriformis Syndrome And Why Pigeon Pose Might Not Always Deliver Relief

     

    Yoga has long been touted as a healing practice. The ashtanga primary series, for instance, isreferred to as “yoga chikitsa,” or yoga therapy, because of the cleansing and toning effect it is believed to have on the body and mind. However, as more and more people suffer from various aches and pains, including sciatica, is it possible the postures we think of as healing might need to re-examined?


    It will come as no surprise that yoga appears to have a positive impact on those with low back pain; whether or not it’s any more beneficial than other forms of exercise has yet to be determined . Yoga does, however, appear to be as effective on improving quality of life in individuals with breast cancer, heart failure, and diabetes. Yoga also appears to be an effective ancillary treatment for trauma disorders, such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression .

    Adho Mukha Svanasana Downward Facing Dog Pose Or Dolphin With Splits In The Air

    Is Yoga Good for Sciatica?

    Doing splits on the ground can make sciatica pain worse, but practicing splits while in Downward Facing Dog can help stretch out the legs without the stress or compression on the nerve. Just remember not to force anything and if the hamstrings are tight, keep the knees bend and heels may stay hovering off the ground.


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  • But What About Things The Internet Promises Yoga Will Cure Such As Sciatica

     

    When I ran a PubMed search for yoga and sciatica, I found four peer reviewed journal articles:


  • The first showing yoga had no adverse effects on sciatica and, in fact, led to a self reported reduction in pain .
  • The second found yoga asana was effective in reducing pain and improving mobility in individuals suffering from sciatic symptoms .
  • The third found individuals suffering from conditions such as sciatica, headaches, migraines and strokes were more likely than those without neurological conditions to explore mind body therapies, including deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. The authors concluded there was a lack of high quality studies demonstrating the efficacy of these interventions on neurological conditions, with the exception of headaches, where mind-body therapies appeared to be effective in reducing the frequency .
  • The fourth concluded the only therapies with good quality evidence for efficacy in chronic back conditions were cognitive behavior therapy, spinal manipulation, exercise, and interdisciplinary rehabilitation. In acute low back pain, the only therapy with good quality evidence of efficacy was heat. Yoga did not have enough high quality evidence to determine whether or not it was beneficial in helping sciatica symptoms .
  • Compare this to a Google search of sciatica and yoga. Google generated 502,000 hits. The first page is filled with articles promising to cure sciatica with 6 simple yoga poses.

    Six Yoga Asana To Get Relief From Sciatica Lower Back Pain Or Slipped Disc:

    Bhujangasana Benefits:– Best Yoga Pose for Sciatica

    • Stretches muscles in the shoulders, chest and abdominals.
    • Decreases stiffness of the lower back.
    • Strengthens the arms and shoulders.
    • Increases flexibility.

    This also helps to treat “gridhrasi,” .

    Apanasana Benefits:Wind-Relieving or Knees to Chest Pose

    • Stretches and stabilizes the pelvis and low back and can reduce lower back pain.
    • Reduces excessive anger, excitement, anxiety and high blood pressure.
    • Helps with muscle guarding, hyperlordosis, sciatic nerve impingement muscle spasm, spinal stenosis, and disc herniation.

    Apanasana is one of the most recommended poses or Yoga Exercise to ease sciatica pain or numbness. This is a yoga pose which has been designed to give relief from the lower back pain. Apanasana can help warm up your lower back area in order to give relief during a back pain problem. 

    Energizing Pose Benefits:

    • This asana helps you to improve your body mechanics and posture. 
    • With the help of this asana one can calm their mind and body, and with the help of stretching it also strengthen the legs.
    • It can also relieve back pain associated with your sciatica.

    This asana or Yoga Poses can relief your sciatica pain and help to stretch the affected muscles, to ease the cramp-like pain. To make it easier on yourself, you could elevate your lower leg by placing the heel off the ground on a block or book. 

    Supta Padangusthasana Benefits: Pose for lower back and some kinds of backache

    Shalabhasana Benefits:  Locust Pose

    Yoga For Sciatica: 5 Amazing Yogasanas For Relief From Lower Back Pain

    You might all be familiar with the saying “Sitting is the new Smoking”! Well, indeed its true, be it working from home or at office, the ongoing sedentary lifestyle with more sitting and lying down, and lesser activities have increased the risk of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, back pain, hip pain etc. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, back and hip pain is one of the most common health problems plaguing 1 out of 4 people nowadays, with sciatica being reported every now and then.

    Also Read: Yogasanas For Hip Pain: 5 Simple Yoga Poses To Provide Relief From Lower Back Discomfort

    Yoga For Sciatica # 1: Reclining Big Toe Pose To Ease Sciatica Pain:

    This yoga pose for sciatica is also known as Supta Padangusthasana. To practice this yoga pose:

    • Simply lay on the flat ground, and placing an elastic strap around the ball of your right foot, stretch it.
    • Lift up your right leg towards the ceiling while holding the strap with your hand.
    • Keep the foot flexed by keeping your buttocks pressed against the ground and hold in the same position for 10 breaths.
    • Then slowly lower the right leg by bending the right knee towards your chest and then subsequently placing the leg on the floor.
    • Repeat on the left side.

    Use: This yoga pose for sciatica involves mainly stretching of calves, hamstrings, hips and the groin which helps in healing sciatic pains and increases the strength of the knees.

    Pain Relief Methods That People With Sciatica Patients Can Follow

    People who complain of sciatica pain should first take care not to tire the legs and waist, and to rest. There are different causes of sciatic pain along with the problems that occur in the spine. In the researches, it has been learned that internal organ disorders, nerve drugs used, problems that occur after birth, wrong fracture-dislocation correction methods, spinal tumors, diabetes, and lumbar hernia are the causes.

    Hot spring waters and hot baths are recommended as the treatment of sciatica. Before starting the treatment, the exact cause of the disease is found after the doctor’s examination, some drugs are stopped to take, or some necessary drugs are started to take, and a good rest and strengthening of the muscles will be appropriate methods for treatment. In the treatment of the disease, doctors recommend that people do sit-ups 3 times a day until they get tired and strengthen their lower back muscles.

    Sciatica is a serious ailment that negatively affects a person’s daily life. Those with damaged sciatic nerves feel extreme pain in the lower back and legs and will do anything to get rid of it. Here are eight natural ways to relieve pain that you can follow:

  • Amber: Many herbs and oils can relieve the pain and inflammation of sciatica. Amber oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Apply this oil to the aching area two or three times a day. You will see that the pain is relieved.
  • Quick Tips To Prevent Occurrence And Recurrence Of Sciatica

  • Ensure that you take adequate rest not only when you are in the middle of an episode but also after the episode is over. Don’t overwork yourself, especially in terms of excessive standing or lifting weights. 
  • Low impact exercises like walking and water exercises like water aerobics and swimming can also help prevent flare-ups.
  • Ensure you do stretching and strengthening exercises daily after consulting your healthcare professional.
    • Stretches the lower part of your body well, relieving aching muscles
    • Makes the hip region more flexible
    • Promotes good posture

    Aim: Maintain the pose for as long as you are comfortable; the bend will relieve weariness.

    Tip: If you are not comfortable with this pose, try this variation:

  • Lie on your back and straighten your legs with the back of your knees touching the ground. Inhale.
  • Exhale and bring your knees gently to your chest. Ensure that your back is flat on the ground.
  • Hold this pose for 10 seconds while taking slow and deep breaths.
  • Exhale and release your legs regaining your original position. 
  • Repeat 5 times or as you find comfortable.
  • Now, all these poses will leave you feeling stronger with more confidence in your back, hips, and thighs. You can supplement them with some hip-openers and stretches.

    • Elongates the spine, correcting posture
    • Strengthens the back and hip muscles

    Aim: Try to get your hands to meet at the back and maintain this posture as long as you can without straining yourself. 

    Yoga For Sciatica # 3: King Pigeon Pose Or Raja Kapotasana

    5 Yoga Poses For Sciatic Nerve Pain That Work Instantly ...

    King Pigeon Pose or Raja Kapotasana is the strongest yoga pose to practise stretching. Do it as follows:

    • Start by placing your hands and knees on the ground or from “downward-facing dog” posture.
    • Then slowly bring your right knee forward and place your right foot in line with the left hip.
    • Then release the left foot and slide it back and bring your upper body in the forward direction. The toes must be pressing into the mat on reaching this posture.
    • Hold in the same position for a few seconds.
    • Repeat the same for the left side.
    • You can also take the help of a table to support yourself.

    Use: King Pigeon yoga pose is the strongest stretching practice and helps in providing sciatica pain relief. This is not an easy pose and requires regular practice of yoga.

    Yoga For Lower Back Pain And Sciatica: How Does It Work

    If you are experiencing lower back pain or sciatica, you may benefit from certain yoga poses. Yoga is a type of mind-body therapy that can relieve physical pain as well as accompanying stress. Particular yoga poses for sciatic pain may strengthen and relax your body.

    Yoga stretches for sciatica provide relief as they stretch the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve. They also help strengthen the glutes and lower spine, which also lengthens the lower portion of the spine. Some yoga positions for sciatica work by stretching and strengthening the hips and lower back. Yoga stretches for sciatica may also help you manage and reduce the symptoms caused by a herniated disc. 

    Yoga For Sciatica: 6 Best Yoga Poses For Sciatica Pain

    Yoga For Beginners

    Did you know that 40% of people suffer from sciatica pain in their lifetime? Sciatica is a condition that affects more than 3 million people in the US each year. It is characterized by pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down one or both legs.

    If you’re someone who has suffered from sciatica, then you already know how much it can negatively impact your life. Luckily, there are things you can do to ease your pain, such as practicing yoga for sciatica.

    But with so many different yoga forms available, how do you know which one is best for treating sciatica pain? Check out this guide to learn about the best beginner-friendly yoga poses to help relieve your discomfort.

    Research Backs Yoga For Sciatica Pain Which Poses Work

    Reading Time: 5 minutes 44 seconds

    Living in pain can lower your quality of life. Everyday activities such as working, cleaning, and caring for your family become more difficult. Instead of engaging in your favorite hobbies, you spend your time attempting to ease the pain. One of the most common pains that fall into this category is sciatica.

    Sciatica Then Avoid These 3 Exercises Like The Plague

    Blog

    The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest single nerve in your body, running from your lower spine down each leg and ending in each foot. It stems deep down through your buttocks and branches down the back of the leg into the calves and feet.

    Sciatica refers to the pain, numbness and other symptoms caused by compression or inflammation of this important nerve, and it’s typically felt along the nerve pathway described. You may also experience weakness and fatigue of your lower body, or restriction of movement and loss of flexibility. The pain can be burning, cramping, tingling or numb.

    What causes sciatic pain?

    Sciatic pain is a result of body imbalances that puts pressure on the nerve. Weight bearing indifference – the weight of your body and muscle imbalances can cause your spine to twist or tilt causing distortion in the spine structure, and uneven pressure on the joints. In particular the Sacroiliac Joint and the facet joints of L4, L5 verterbrae.

    Some factors which can cause, trigger or worsen sciatica are:

    ·         muscle imbalances

    ·         lumbar spinal stenosis – narrowing of the spaces carrying nerves to the lumbar spine

    ·         spondylolisthesis – where one vertebrae slips forward over the vertebrae below it.

    ·         bone spurs or osteophytes

    ·         herniated or bulging discs

    ·         injury

    Here are the top five most effective stretches to relieve your sciatica pain, and three you should avoid to keep from inflaming your sciatica further.

    The Five Best Sciatica Stretches

    How to Do It:

    What Science Says About Yoga And Sciatica Pain Relief

    One of the best ways to determine if a particular therapy is effective is to conduct studies. In the case of yoga easing sciatica, many have found positive results. Here are a few to consider:

    • A 2015 study involved 61 subjects with nonspecific low back pain or sciatica. Each also had a spinal disc extrusion or bulge. Half did yoga for three months. The other half served as a control and received “normal medical care.” At the end of the study, those doing yoga had lower pain and disability scores. 
    •  A 2018 study noted that 76.8 percent of individuals practicing yoga for 30 days experienced pain relief. Eight percent also had reduced levels of stiffness and 79.5 percent reported fewer “pricking” feelings.
    • A 2005 study compared yoga, exercise, and self-care for treating chronic low back pain. It included 101 adults, monitoring them over the course of 12 weeks. Researchers noted that those doing yoga had “superior” improvements in back function. Further, these results were still present at 26 weeks post-treatment.

    Yoga Poses For Sciatic Nerve Pain That Work Instantly

    August 11, 2018

    Sciatic nerve pain is more common than you might imagine. As one of those dreaded ailments that you can’t actually see, it’s hard to explain to a non-sufferer just how excruciating this kind of nerve pain can be.

    Luckily most sciatica flare-ups do pass on their own but when you are in the midst of an attack, there are some gentle yoga poses for sciatic never pain that can make all the difference. In fact, I have been able to sometimes achieve instant relief using the poses below so they are worth a try.

    If you are pregnant and suffering with sciatica, this link has some yoga poses for sciatic nerve pain that are safe to do during pregnancy. 

    This post contains affiliate links. I only promote products I recommend and trust. Please read my Disclosure for more information. 

    Exercises You Can Do At Home To Reduce Sciatica Pain

    The sciatica is the longest and thickest nerve in the body that starts in the pelvis, runs through the hips, and runs from the leg to the heel. It starts at the junction of the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord and passes through the outer part of both legs.

    Although sciatic pain can be felt in almost all areas where the sciatic nerve passes, the pain most often radiates from the lower back, buttocks, thighs , and behind the calf . The pain usually manifests itself on one side of the body, and the intensity of the pain can be mild or even unbearably intense.

    The sciatic nerve can be affected by many problems and occurs because the nerve is under pressure. Some of the most affecting causes may be herniated disc, that is, a herniated disc pressing on the nerve between the vertebrae, osteoarthritis, spinal curvature , and sometimes the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle passing through the hip.

    Mild sciatic pain can go away on its own with the help of regular exercise, but if the pain lasts for more than a few weeks, is felt with increasing intensity, if sudden and severe pain or numbness is felt in the lower back, if muscle weakness is encountered in the legs, it is absolutely necessary to be examined by a doctor and seek medical support.

    Supta Padangusthasana Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose

    Yoga Poses to Soothe Sciatic Nerve Pain in 15 Minutes ...

    This pose will help to target tight hamstrings without compressing or contracting the hips or buttocks. Lengthening the hamstrings will not only help make the legs more flexible but also lessen the strain on the lower back leading to sciatica pain. Ensure that the leg is straight in the pose and use a strap to reach the foot if needed.

    General Movement Tips For Lower Back Decompression

    In general, sciatica pain will only be relieved with rest, time, and rehabilitation of the area with proper, mindful movement, especially while doing standing poses in a yoga class. Ana Forrest, creator of Forrest Yoga, recommends students which sciatica pain to tuck in their tail bone to decompress the lower back, to pull in the abs to keep the core active and keep weight off the pelvis, and to keep the lower legs active by lifting the toes of both feet and keeping them spread in all standing poses.

    Why Yoga Is Important For Sciatica Pain Treatment

    • There are “yoga poses for sciatica” problem which can help with the back pain and leg pain.
    • Yoga stretches can actually help to make your sciatica condition much better and to get relief from Sciatica Pain.
    • According to the research, yoga asanas can help to ease the katishool when a sciatica patient bends forward. 
    • Other sciatica symptoms related to sciatica-like tenderness or rigidity as well as trouble walking – can be eased after practising yoga asanas and stretches. 


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