The nerve which runs all the way from your lower back, through the buttocks, and down both legs is known as the sciatic nerve. When your sciatic nerve is injured, compressed, or irritated due to a number of causes, it can trigger what is known as sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain.
This is often characterized as an incredibly sharp and throbbing pain which can be in the back, buttocks, the legs, or a combination of the above. This kind of pain sometimes only lasts for a while, but in more severe cases can last for weeks or months, or even be somewhat permanent in nature.
Doing various stretches and poses will help correct posture and spinal shape, increase blood flow and reduce inflammation, and create more flexibility can help to relieve sciatica. There are many people out there who say that yoga is a great way to reduce sciatic nerve pain.
Is yoga good for sciatica? Is this really true? Yoga, especially some specific poses, has been shown to have the ability to help greatly reduce sciatic nerve pain in more ways than one. Let’s take a closer look.
Does Yoga Help Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain?
When it comes to the question of whether or not yoga is good for sciatica, the overwhelming consensus is that yes, yoga can go a very long way in helping relieve that horrible pain caused by injury or irritation of the sciatic nerve. However, you might know that sciatica can be caused by a number of things.
So, can yoga help relieve sciatica even when it is caused by various underlying factors? The answer still appears to be yes, it can. If you happen to have a herniated or bulging disk in your spine, yoga can help to strengthen, lengthen, and align your back, thus correcting your posture, moving everything back into place, and relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve. Sciatica in some cases may also be caused by muscle damage or strain, something which yoga can work wonders for as well.
Realigning the spine, correcting posture, strengthening muscles, increasing flexibility, increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation can all help reduce or even eliminate sciatic nerve pain, and these are all things which yoga can help you do. As can be seen in this article, there are some pretty conclusive scientific studies which prove this to be true.
Best Yoga Poses for Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief
There are literally hundreds of different yoga poses. Of course, not all yoga poses will help relieve sciatica, and some may in fact make it worse. So, here are some of the best yoga poses you can do to try and reduce or even eliminate painful sciatica.
Knees to Chest
This is one of the easier and more straightforward yoga poses which can in some cases help relieve sciatic nerve pain, as it is designed to help stretch out the back. For this pose, simply lie flat on your back with your legs straight.
Slowly bend both legs at the knees and bring your knees towards your chest. Then, hold your thighs, close to the back of the knees, with your hands, and pull your knees towards the chest. You can also try holding your legs at the front of the knees, pulling them towards your chest. Attempt holding this position for as long as 2 minutes. Keep in mind that when doing this, your back should be flat on the ground.
The Bird Dog Pose
Here we have a yoga pose designed to help stretch your back, but more so to help strengthen your back, your core, and lumbar spine. To do the bird dog pose, start on the ground on your hands and knee, so on all fours. Make sure to have your palms flat on the ground, your arms vertical, and your hands directly below your shoulders.
Also, your knees should be directly on your hips, with your upper legs totally vertical. Make sure your back is completely straight and not arched up or down. Now, extend your left arm forward so it is horizontal, or in other words, parallel to the ground, and do the same with the leg on the opposite side, so, right leg and left arm, or left leg and right arm. Try holding this pose for up to 5 or even 10 seconds, and then repeat with the opposite site.
According to another scientific study, one of the most effective yoga poses to relieve sciatic nerve pain is the cobra pose. This pose is designed to stretch and strengthen the back, while also strengthening core muscles. To perform the cobra pose, start by lying flat on the ground, on your stomach, with your legs straight out behind you.
Now, place the palms of your hands on the ground next to you, about where the bottom of your ribcage is, while making sure that your elbows are tucked close to your sides. Now, while you inhale, push your arms up and lift your chest off the ground. Here, your back should be arched while your hips and lower body remain on the ground. Try to hold this pose for up to 20 seconds, take a break, and repeat it a few times.
Yoga and Sciatica: Final Thoughts
The bottom line is that yoga can indeed help relieve the painful effects of sciatica. It may not help everybody, but stretching and physical therapy, often in the form of yoga or yoga-like exercises, can help in treating the pain caused by the sciatic nerve. Be sure to check out the Yoga Burn website for more info.
Keep in mind that there are a variety of stretches and poses which go along with this, and some may work better for you than others, so you will probably have to do a bit of experimenting.