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Dec 01

Coping with Sciatica

COPING with SCIATICA

Sitting-

Avoid sitting on hard and/or cold surfaces. These can aggravate an inflamed nerve or cause painful muscle spasm. A posture wedge on your computer chair or car seat will prevent the pelvis tilting backwards and causing stiffness. 

Remember to release tension from the leg muscles. Allow the weight of the leg to drop down through the heels. Occasionally swing the knees outwards and inwards on an arc, thereby preventing your muscles from stiffening. 

Standing-

Think tall, spine stretching towards the crown of the head and ceiling/sky as well as down towards the tail bone and heels. Release any tension from the neck muscles, allowing the weight of the head to balance lightly on the top of the spine. Check that the pelvis is level and not tilting forwards. 

Angle your whole body towards whatever you are working at. Position one foot slightly behind the other so you can rock and sway gently as you stand. Swop feet when tired. 

Walking-

Often we walk unevenly, striding out more on one side than the other. Take smaller steps with even stride length. Try walking backwards for two or three steps to remind you to bend the knee and lift the foot to walk. Remember the knee leads not the torso. 

Make sure that your shoes provide enough support and shock absorbency.  

As we walk weight shifts from heel to outside edge of the foot, to little toe side of the ball of the foot, then big toe side of the ball of the foot.

Lying down in the Constructive Rest Position-

If the sciatic nerve is sore, rest your lower leg on a thick cushion or pillow to relieve the pressure on the nerve. Allow the knee of the sore side to gently roll outwards under its own weight. 

Pain Relief-

Position a hot water bottle beside (not on) the sore area. Cover bottle and sore area with a blanket. This creates a mini sauna and will help the tight muscles to relax and blood to circulate. Keep vulnerable area warm. The chill of a draught can cause painful muscle spasm.

Alignment-

Check with your local Alexander Technique Teacher that your body is working symmetrically. Often those with sciatica place more weight on one leg than the other and twist forward on one side. The teacher can also check if you are following the above advice correctly.

 

Read ‘Back Trouble’ by Deborah Caplan (published by Triad) for more information.

For a list of Alexander teachers go to www.isatt.ie or www.stat.org.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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