The nerve pain associated with sciatica can significantly hinder day-to-day activities, leaving you feeling frustrated, discouraged and incapable of thoroughly enjoying life. While this condition can prove incredibly challenging, don’t lose hope – there are various ways to manage your symptoms.
Estimated to affect between 10% and 40% of the population, sciatica arises when the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your feet, is irritated or compressed. This can result in mild, moderate or severe stabbing, burning or shooting pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in your lower back, buttock, leg, feet or toes.
So, is it possible to ease sciatica pain and discomfort naturally? Yes – absolutely. With a holistic approach to your health and wellbeing, you can take control of your condition. Here are our top five tips for sciatica relief!
1. Keep moving
When you’re in pain, exercise is usually the last thing on your mind, but too much rest can do more harm than good. Regular low-impact activities and gentle stretching provide relief by helping to loosen your lower back and leg muscles and strengthening your core. Some good sciatica exercises to try include:
- Walking: Regular walking can relieve sciatica pain. As you walk, your body releases pain-fighting endorphins, your blood flow increases and inflammation is reduced. Just be mindful of your walking posture.
- Water aerobics: Low-impact aquatic exercise has been found to improve lower body nerve and muscle function. The natural buoyancy of the water supports your body weight, which makes moving easier and less painful. You can start with something as simple as walking in waist-high water and from there explore anything from aqua yoga to aqua jogging and aqua cycling.
- Sciatica stretches: A lot of people with sciatica find that stretching helps to relieve pain. Spine Universe recommends pelvic tilt, knee to chest stretches, lower trunk rotations and all fours opposite arm and leg extensions.
Always speak to a doctor or physical therapist before undertaking new exercise. Introduce it gradually and slow down if you’re finding the activity to be too strenuous or painful.
2. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet
Foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties
- Fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, cherries, watermelon, avocado and grapes
- Vegetablessuch as spinach, kale and broccoli
- Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Whole grains, nuts and seeds
- Herbs and spices including turmeric, ginger and oregano
Foods that cause inflammation, including those which are processed and high in sugar, red meats and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pastries, should be avoided.
3. Maintain good posture
Posture is a term used to describe how you hold your body. There’s dynamic posture – how you hold yourself when you’re moving – and static posture – how you hold yourself when you’re sitting, standing or sleeping. If you have sciatica back pain, poor posture can aggravate your condition as stress can be placed on the nerve.
Correct dynamic and static posture, which involves maintaining the natural curve of your spine, can help prevent sciatic nerve irritation and relieve muscle tension. You can improve and maintain your posture by:
- Sitting and standing straight, without hunching over
- Exercising and stretching regularly to improve muscle strength and tone
- Avoiding soft chairs and switching to ergonomic alternatives for activities that require you to sit for long periods (e.g. working in the office)
- Crossing your legs at the ankle, rather than the knee
- Sleeping on a mattress that supports your spine
- Using a pillow that supports your neck
If you think you need help with your posture, seek advice from a physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor or Alexander Technique teacher.
4. Explore massage therapy
A massage is so much more than a treat you have during a trip to the spa; it’s a tried and tested technique to target pain. Through massage therapy, which relaxes tight muscles, boosts circulation, releases feel-good endorphins and reduces stress, sciatica symptoms can be eased.
One of the most popular types of therapeutic massage for sciatica is the deep tissue massage, which applies pressure using slow, deep strokes, targeting the inner layers of your muscles and connective tissue. This 2014 study found deep tissue massage to be just as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for relieving lower back pain.
5. Try To Better Days active patches
Our easy-to-use active patches can help with various chronic pain conditions, including sciatica. Through a unique, patented combination of dextrose and vitamin D, they provide topical and targeted pain relief for joints and nerves. The vitamin D reduces the markers of inflammation and maintains normal bone and muscle function, while dextrose, a simple sugar, acts as a ‘cell food’ for regeneration.
The To Better Days range includes big and small patches for different areas of the body, from your head to your toes. Just apply the patch directly where you need it and feel the benefits in as little as 30 minutes.
Hopefully, these five tips shed some light on natural, accessible sciatica treatments. If you live with sciatica or any other type of chronic pain and are looking for support, check out our Facebook community page, Together For Better Days. Here, you’ll find helpful resources, alongside advice and insights from people just like you.