What is Sciatica?
Our sciatic nerve is the largest and longest in our bodies. It originates in our lower spine, branches into our pelvis. Then travels via our buttocks through our legs and into our feet.
Sciatic pain occurs when we put pressure on or damage our sciatic nerve. This can cause pain to our lumbar spine including bulging disc, joint inflammation and wear and tear. Degeneration of the spine can also cause this irritation.
Why does sitting for long periods of time cause sciatica?
According to a study from National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys, 70% of people spend six hours or more sitting down each day.
When we are standing and moving our body weight is more evenly distributed. When we sit all our upper body weight rests on our lower back. This can cause compression throughout the spinal column, putting additional pressure against our nerve roots. This can end up trapping or pinching the sciatic nerve causing pain. When we have pain, we shift our bodies to avoid the pain thus causing further complications as we then compensate on the other side causing more misalignment. Sciatic type pain originates in the lower back and then as it becomes worse travels down to the hip joints, glutes and back of the leg to the foot.
Main causes and symptoms of Sciatica.
The main causes of sciatica include:
- Prolonged sitting
- Wearing high heels
- Bone spurs
- Herniated discs
- Pinched nerves
At higher risk of developing sciatica are people with desk jobs (as they sit for excessive periods of time).
Heavy lifting as often we will twist to one side, putting unequal pressure on that side.
Carrying heavy items in your back pocket.
Most Common Symptoms of Sciatica.
- Lower back pain, usually one-sided.
- Pain in your glutes and down one or both legs.
- Heightened pain during a sneeze or cough.
- Tingling or burning sensations down through the leg.
- Hip pain.
- Muscle weakness.
How to avoid Sciatica.
How to avoid Sciatica.
- Maintain correct posture when standing, walking and sitting.
- Don't smoke.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Practice safe lifting techniques. When lifting, bend the knees and keep your back straight. By doing this, the strain is taken by the hips and legs, not the back. Hold the object close to the body. The further away from the body the object is, the more stress is put onto the lower back.
- Undertake exercise that maintains aerobic fitness and strength and flexibility in the abdominal and spinal muscles.
- Ensure that your back is well supported when seated.
- Use chairs that provide good back support and are designed to provide a good seating posture.
- A lumber roll or contoured cushion can help to provide lower back support.
- Avoid carrying a wallet in your back pocket.Avoid having a computer setup where you must twist to one side all the time.
- Do regular gentle stretches.
- Have Bowen Therapy.
- Find out how Bowen Therapy helps sciatica.