If you’ve ever suffered from chronic pain of any kind, you know how debilitating and how distracting that can be. It becomes your focus, it consumes you — to the exclusion of almost everything else.
Back pain and nerve pain are particularly tricky. For one, they can originate with a traumatic injury — or they can originate from a sneeze. You might work out too hard and strain a muscle, which puts pressure on your back, or you might get out of the car wrong, which twists a nerve in the wrong way. And once injured, nerves and backs can be difficult to diagnose the root cause, and harder still to treat. If your back and nerves in the back are injured, you may find yourself limiting activity, which may push you to eat poorly, and then you might cycle to a whole host of unhealthy habits and life choices.
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When it comes to specific nerves that affect the back, the sciatic nerve is one that may people have heard of. That’s because it’s a big nerve that travels all the way from the lower back, down the buttock, and all through the leg. Like most nerve damage, there are plenty of ways that the sciatic nerve gets irritated, from arthritis to a herniated disc to a fall or other injury. That injury can in turn lead to sciatica, which is a pain that can be just an annoyance or become a major, constant burning sensation.
If you or a loved one suffer from sciatica, you may know that there are some things that worse the pain. Sitting for long periods can lead to a particularly brutal episode of sciatica — but walking for a very long time can, too. Night may be bad — but laughing may not help.
It sounds insurmountable to treat, and for some people it feels that way. Medicine offers lots of choices, from stimulating the spinal cord to nerve root blocks. But one of the most basic and easily accessible options for people who suffer from sciatica is just to integrate some stretches into their fitness or daily routine. Those stretches don’t take anything other than a soft surface and maybe access to the elevation provided by a staircase. Half of them are performed on your back, removing balance issues as an obstacle. One is performed seated, making it a good choice for people who may suffer from mobility impairments. All of them — just four in total — can be done in minutes, multiple times a day, meaning you’re giving your sciatic nerve some attention that it needs, which in turn may help to relieve pressure and pain. In fact, you can probably do the stretches designed to relieve sciatica in your normal clothes — you won’t be sweating and you just need a little freedom of movement.
So what are the at-home stretching remedies to help you deal with sciatica, and how do you do them? This graphic walks through specific directions that you can use to put those in place — today.