Does anyone have any good recommendations for exercises, stretches, etc. to prevent sciatica?
Recently I have been having some lower back to upper leg twinges that I think (fear) are "pre-sciatica." I need to address to stave it off. So... I would be immensely appreciative of effective "best practices" that your combined wisdom and experience can suggest.
A fellow yogi in a yoga class last weekend brought this same subject up to the instructor. The instructor recommended stretching that area by standing up straight then crossing one leg in front of the other so that both feet are flat on the floor and the pinkie toes touch each other. Bend forward with a flat back as far as you can go. You'll feel the stretch right away. Hold for 20 seconds or so. Keep breathing. Repeat on the other side. If you have really tight hamstrings you might want to warm up a bit first. Hope this helps!
I have had sciatica for years due to a bulging disc that eventually herniated and required surgery. Running can really contribute to this because all the pounding is hard on the joints. So as long as you're running, sciatica might not be preventable. However, I've been to many doctors and phsyical therapists and they all emphasize one thing: That building up your core muscles can at least stave off major muscle spasms and help support the spine. Probably the most important thing you can do is work your abs, but focus on ab exercises that keep the spine neutral (for example, lifting your legs rather than your upper body, or doing lots of planks). You can also lie on your stomach and do leg raises to work the lower back. I'm not a clinician, but based on my personal experience it seems that disc problems are something you just have to live with and manage over time. I hope this helps. Good luck!!
Foam roll, foam roll, and foam roll some more. If you don't have one, get one.
Foam roll your entire posterior chain. Start with you calves, work up your hammies, hit your glutes (cross one ankle over opposite knee), then lower/mid/and upper back. Next, grab a TP massage ball or a tennis ball and stick it under the sore part of your thigh/glute. RELAX. Roll around some and you'll find the spot and let the muscle relax and wrap itself around the ball. It will hurt, so try to stay as relaxed as possible. When you find that sweet spot, drop the knee out to the side for some more good times.
Just because the twinges have been located/localized in your low back/upper thigh doesn't mean that's where it's originating from. Nor does it mean it's sciatica. Could be piriformis, too.
See the doc to address the pain! Sciatic pain could be the result of many different things. I have been experiencing sciatic pain for the past nine months, which was finally identified as a torn hamstring and a protruding disc after a MRI.
Chiros are usually better suited than orthpods for muscle injuries - I swear by Dr. Martin Skopp, 1701 Belle View Blvd, Alexandria VA 703-721-9600 - He does Active Release Technique - has alleviated all my pains in the butt and more... He is the only reason I can still run.
Thank you for the advice and suggestions.
I'm in the same sciatic boat. Good advice here.
As an orthopaedic surgeon and triathlete, a few words of advice:
1. Be clear what you mean when you say "Sciatica": specifically the feeling of pain or an electric-shock sensation that typically eminates from the buttock and shoots down the lateral aspect or front of the legs. This represents irritation (whether from acute or chronic inflammation or from mechanical compression) of the lower lumbar nerve roots.
2. Look for weakness or numbness, particularly in the gastroc (posterior calf), tibialis anterior (anterior calf) or extensor hallucis (pulling up your big toe). This should buy you a visit to an orthopod.
3. Core exercises, chiropractic, stretching, physical therapy and just plain not doing what makes you hurt can all help. A physician can offer a number of additional treatments depending on what causes the pain, including antiinflammatory medication and epidural steroid injections. At the end of the day, if your pain is not debilitating and you don't have the neurologic symptoms described above or anything more concerning, you're probably okay trying any of the modalities above. If your pain is getting worse, if it's interfering with your daily activities, if it's not responsive to the above, or if you develop neurologic symptoms, I would see an orthopaedic or neurologic surgeon who specializes in spine.
And piriformis syndrome is so ridiculously rare, I would rarely consider it in the differential of leg/buttock pain.
If anyone needs recs for a good spine doc, let me know.
I'm going to side with kev and nmr2002 on this one after initially recommending foam rolling. I rolled plenty and it wasn't helping. I know foam rolling, or SMR (self myofascial release) is supposed to 'hurt' but I couldn't get up off the ground because of the shooting pain in my butt and down into my hammies.
I saw my dr a couple weeks ago when it took minutes to just get into bed - sit on the edge, lay down, roll over, "get comfortable". The pain was too much. I got x-rays and was told (via voicemail, still trying to talk 1 on 1) that I have "mild arthritis in the low back; degenerative joint changes in L1/L2, and L2/L3. The changes appear to be chronic." As someone who likes to lift heavy and run far, it's not the early Xmas present I wanted to hear, but working to control it and hopefully run and lift again.
I'm working on getting a 2nd opinion - thank you DC Tri Club and SSPT for the free injury screening - and 3rd opnion (back specialist).
nmr - please pass on your spine doc reco - jen (dot) jacobs14 at gmail (dot) com