Exercises for Sciatic Pain

I recently sent a message to my friends on Facebook asking them to submit fitness/health questions. Then I picked three to share with you, which I will include in my next three blogs. Perhaps this information will help you or someone you know. I would love to hear from you, so please send me your questions and I will do my best to get you answers.

Dear Merlinda,
I was involved in a car accident involving me in between 2 school buses. Since then I have severe sciatic joint and nerve pain. What exercises can I do to "help" with so much back pain and to help lose the weight gained?
Linda Wilfong, WV
 
Dear Linda,
Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve and its branches. The pain generally begins in your low back and runs through your buttock and down your leg. As a Pilates instructor, I would say Pilates would benefit you greatly with both the sciatica pain and to help lose any weight gained due to your pain and limited movement. Pilates strengthens and lengthens the body, and I have had several clients who have had various levels of sciatic pain and even two who had back surgery. It is a perfect blend of strength and flexibility which may help to relieve your symptoms. To get you started, below are some basic Pilates moves you can do at home. 

Single Leg Stretch:

Lying flat on your back with your pelvis in a neutral position, pull one knee to your chest and extend the other leg to the ceiling or at a slight angle down, whichever feels best.

Switch legs, breathing in as you squeeze the knee to your chest, and exhale as you switch legs, pulling your abdominal muscles down flat as you extend the one leg and bend in the other.

Feel the stretch in your buttocks and hamstrings the lower back stays heavy on the floor and the hips crease as the thighs come in. Do no more than 10 repetitions.

The Swan Prep:

Lie face down (prone) on your mat or carpeted floor, with your elbows and forearms on the floor and your fingers under your shoulders. Slowly lift your head, neck and chest from the floor and extend your upper spine. Turn your head and lift it up to the right looking up at the ceiling and inhale. Lower your head down, exhaling as you look down. Lift your head up to the left and inhale, and then exhale as you begin to lower your head down. Return to floor. Do no more than 10 repetitions.

The Pelvic Tilt:

The pelvic tilt Pilates exercise increases mobility in your lower back while strengthening your core stability muscles. Lie face up with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms relaxed at your sides. Contract your abdominal muscles to tilt your pelvis up and press your low back into the floor. Hold this position for 2 to 5 seconds, and then relax. Do no more than 10 repetitions.

Single Leg Lift:

The single leg lift is an exercise that gently strengthens your core muscles. Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms relaxed at your sides. Extend your left leg so that it lies flat against the floor. Keeping your leg straight, contract your abdominal muscles and lift your leg 12 to 18 inches off the floor. Pause, and then slowly lower back to the floor. Do no more than 10 repetitions on each leg.

Hamstring Stretch:

This Pilates movement not only lengthens your hamstrings, but also helps develop core strength and stability. Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Place an exercise band or towel around the bottom of your left foot, extend your left leg. Hold the ends of the band/towel with your hands. Contract your abdominal muscles and slowly lift your leg toward the ceiling until your hip reaches a 90-degree angle, or as far as you feel comfortable. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds while breathing deeply. Carefully lower your leg back to the floor and repeat the stretch with your right leg. Do no more than 10 repetitions on each side.

Pilates is a great way to tighten and tone, while giving you longer, stronger leaner muscles, better posture, better flexibility, and making everyday activities easier. As always, I would suggest you consult with your health care provider before beginning any exercise program.

Do you have a fitness question? Send your questions to tidewaterwomen.com, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will do my best to get you an answer. Please visit www.everythingfitness4u.com for more information.

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Merlinda Swearingen

Merlinda Swearingen is a Navy wife and mother of two growing boys (12 and 10). She teaches group fitness classes at ODU's student recreation center and is a certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, pilates instructor, personal fitness chef, and business owner with over 15 years experience in the fitness industry. She enjoys spending time with her family, church family, cooking, camping, and finding new information and ideas that are trending in the area of fitness and health. Living a healthy and fit lifestyle is a passion she enjoys sharing with anyone and everyone she meets.  

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