On Sciatica & Healing

Alleviate Pain from the Sciatic Nerve 

What is the sciatic nerve?

The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves in the body. It provides the majority of the motor and sensory activity for the lower extremities. The nerve is made up of a nerve plexus originating from L1 to S1 and passes from inside the pelvis to outside the pelvis through the sciatic notch – a little hollowing in the pelvis. The sciatic nerve then typically goes under the piriformis muscle, runs down the back of the leg behind the knee and splits, going inside and outside the calf and along the top and bottom of the foot.

How does one get sciatica?

Sciatica is any obstruction, restriction, or irritation that is applied to the sciatic nerve. If you understand what the causes of sciatica are, you can understand where an irritation could be coming from. 

Common causes of sciatica include:

·         Slipped (herniated) disk

·         Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)

·         Piriformis syndrome (a pain disorder involving the narrow muscle in the buttocks)

·         Pelvic injury or fracture

·         Tumors

Can Pilates relieve this pain?

Pilates was originally used as a form of rehabilitation. Pilates exercises stretch and mobilize the hips and lumbar spine to help alleviate tightness in the piriformis muscle. This in turn can help alleviate the symptoms of mild sciatica.

Pilates can help sciatica over time. It is not a quick, temporary fix. The aim is to use exercises of both flexion and extension in the lumbar spine, hips, gluteals and thighs.

Pilates specifically strengthens the core and postural muscles in the torso and back. Therefore, it is very effective in helping to alleviate sciatica. Pilates truly shines for people with sciatica who have shown a history of benefiting from regular exercise.

A Pilates exercise program does not use weights, but incorporates resistance through the use of equipment with spring tension for many exercises. Because Pilates promotes core body strength, it is a good addition to a therapy program for any patient with chronic muscular pain and weakness.