Counteracting the Effects of Sitting
If you're one of those people that suffer from sciatic pain, it could be from a whole bunch of different reasons. It doesn't necessarily mean that the problem is where the nerve is. It could be just how your body is trying to position itself against the forces of gravity. Whether it is from spraining an ankle, or wrenching a shoulder, or even getting whiplash in a car accident; it's just that the nerves around the lower back, in the lumbar vertebrae and sacrum, the branch of nerves that come out and run down the backside of one hip all the way down your leg known as the sciatic nerve, it could be that is just where the pain is being felt.
Let us try get your whole body to be in better alignment. To open up the space around the low back/sacral area and, in so doing, we might find some relief in that sciatic area. This isn't for every body suffering from sciatica pain. That would be like trying to treat a headache from eating ice cream too fast the same way you might treat a headache from hitting your head into a cabinet. The reason for the headache is going to be different, so you may have to treat it differently. Nonetheless, let's get started.
Lie down upon your back so your knees are bent and at right angles. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Your head is relaxed on the ground. Place a ball (volleyball, basketball, etc.) between the knees. Place your arms out on the floor palms down. Squeeze the ball for one full second with both knees and then relax. Squeeze firmly and then relax. If you are doing it properly, you should begin to feel the muscles of the inner thigh and groin start to do the majority of the work. Really what you are doing is taking the thigh bones and pulling them in at one end while pulling them gently outward at the other end. Creating space on the back side of the pelvis. Perform 10 repetitions to start. Over time build up to 15-25 repetitions. Start with just one set initially, but then over the course of days or weeks build up to two or three sets.
Next, take one ankle and cross it over the opposite knee. From this position, lift the legs up and hold so that the knee is directly above the hip. If this is too restricted, take the foot that is in the air and place it against a chair to provide additional support. The goal is to hold this for a little while until you start to feel the tension become reduced. For most people, it takes about thirty seconds to a minute. After, bring the legs down and switch legs. Perform the same action on the opposite side. What you'll most likely experience is that the side you choose second is often the side that's the most restrictive or the one that you feel much more muscle tension. You may want to support this side a little bit more than the other (at least hold for a bit longer until you feel that muscle relax).
Often people will reach through the legs and they'll pull to achieve a greater stretch sensation. However, they are also pulling their head off the floor and rounding their shoulders. In an effort to do one thing they are sacrificing for the other. By keeping the arms out and the head relaxed you will maintain proper postural alignment. Once the desired time has transpired, and you felt the muscles release, switch legs again.
With the ankle still crossed over the knee, you will be performing a different move next. Pivot from the foot that's on the floor as if it's like a hinge on a door. Slowly lower the leg all the way to the ground so it can relax. The other leg is going to gently press away from the body so it points up toward the ceiling. The arms are still out away from your body and relaxed on the floor. You can turn your head in the opposite direction than the hips are rotated to achieve a full spiral action of the spine. After a little while relaxing in that pose you can rotate up and then perform the same movement on the opposite side.
When getting off the floor you may want to take your time because you have been laying there for a little while doing those three movements. Once up, walk around and see what that feels like. Is there more freedom of movement? What is the sensation going down the hips and for that matter down your legs or wherever you might feel that sciatic referral.
Next, find a stairway or step (some object which is a little off the floor) and another object that you can hold on with both hands (something like a handrail). What really works well is the kitchen sink or countertop. If you're in your office you can open up your office door and hold onto both doorknobs while standing on a phone book. Place the forefeet up on that elevated surface with heels dangling off. Maintain a nice, tall posture so that the head is over the shoulders. Shoulders are over the hips. Hips are over the knees. Knees are over the ankles. If you took a plumb bob from the middle of the skull to the ankles, the string should go through all of the load bearing joints. Allow your body weight to sink deep into the heels and hang out there for a minute or two. With the joints stacked vertically the skeletal system is going to support the weight of the body and muscles, soft tissue, and nerves will not feel compressed. In fact, when you step down and walk around you may feel lighter, taller, and yet more grounded. You will most likely sense a great reduction in that sciatic pain symptom. Remember it is just a symptom. It may not necessarily be where the problem lies.
So if you are in a position where you are feeling sciatic referral, and it's not feeling good, give these four positions a try. I would recommend doing them as often as you can and getting yourself out of the seated environment or positions where you are not moving much. No matter if you are counter staff working at a coffee bar, or an office worker at a desk all day, the body needs to move and not be caged up. Get out and get that body moving. These four moves are great place to start.