Sciatica is common, but it’s not normal. Still, that irritation or inflammation of the largest nerve in the body, which runs from the lower spine through the butt and down each leg, affects some three million Americans.
Sciatica refers to the symptoms experienced when the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body, is irritated. It can literally be a real pain in the butt.
That’s because the sciatic nerve branches from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks and down each leg. So the pain experienced by some three million Americans isn’t so much concentrated in the lower back, but radiates lower and usually only affects one side of the body. For some, the pain is debilitating; for others, it’s more of an annoyance with the potential to get worse. But for most, it’s easily treatable.
Yoga for pain relief
One out of every 20 people in the United States is currently experiencing sciatica, with two in five expected to suffer from the chronic pain condition at some point during their lives. Sciatic pain can stretch from the lower back to the feet and is caused by compression on the sciatic nerve.
The excruciating symptoms of sciatica can be eased with a targeted yoga practice, explains Philadelphia Phillies yoga trainer Dana Santas. “Because of sciatica’s varying causes, there isn’t a single magic bullet for relief,” she says. “However, yoga, when applied correctly, can be effective in not only relieving sciatica, but also preventing it.”
By performing modified yoga poses gently and carefully, you can improve your alignment and bolster any weakness in your lower back, in turn effectuating pain relief. As always, it’s wise to check with your doctor or physical therapist before you begin to be sure these exercises won’t exacerbate your condition.