Sciatica from Disc Bulge or Stenosis – Exercises
NOTE: If you are in acute pain, check with a qualified physical therapist, sports physician, or chiropractor before you begin doing these exercises. As with all exercises, discontinue if you feel much worse pain or other adverse effects and check with your doctor.
Whenever you bend your lumbar spine, the soft tissue structures of the spine (discs, ligaments) change shape. What if you can bend in a certain way that changes the shape of the disc and/or buckled ligament so that it no longer presses against a nerve root? This is the strategy you will attempt.
Most disc bulges are to the rear (posterior) and to the side relative to the spine. So the first exercise to attempt is lumbar extension (bending backwards). This action pinches the backs of the lumbar vertebrae together, which can push a disc bulge (as long as it is still manageable through exercises; i.e. not ruptured) back to center.
Start out by lying on a yoga mat face down, and prop up your torso and rest on your elbows. Keep head up, looking straight ahead. You should feel your lower back tighten as the vertebrae lock into extension. Hold this position for 15 seconds; come down all the way, and do it again. Do eight repetitions, twice a day and re-evaluate your sciatica.
If it gets easier AND your symptoms improve, after a week doing this, attempt propping up your torso even higher by extending your elbows, hands pushing off the ground. Again, keep your head up and look straight ahead. Hold for eight seconds, lower down all the way and repeat eight times.
If these two, basic extension moves don’t fix the problem, you will need to investigate bending your lumbar spine in different angles– to the sides, and at oblique angles while standing, and note changes in your symptoms.
ANY MOVEMENT THAT CAUSES YOUR LEG PAIN TO DIMINISH IS THE MOVEMENT TO STICK TO, DAILY. This includes less severity of your leg pain and/or a shortening of the path of the leg pain; for example, it no longer reaches down to your calf but instead stops at your gluteal fold after doing the exercise.
Below is a video where I show you this technique:
NEXT: Do Home Spinal Decompression
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