Do you often feel a sharp pain in your lumbar region? Does that pain go all along your leg and even all the way down to your foot? Do you sometimes feel a weakness or numbness in your leg?
If your answer to most of these questions is “yes”, then it sounds like you are suffering from sciatica.
It is estimated that 40% of the world population had or will have a sciatica issue at some point during their lives. Therefore it’s not surprising that Functional Patterns practitioners often have people reach out to them with that specific issue.
Stepping away from the regular sciatica nerve stretches that you can find on the Internet or the ones typically prescribed in physiotherapy we will browse through 3 different tips to help you cure sciatica for good.
How to Cure Sciatica Permanently
At this point you might have already tried a few methods to find immediate relief for sciatica pain. Unfortunately like many pains or issues with the human body there are no quick fix or magical formula to suddenly solve the problem.
As being stated in the article “Exercising with sciatica, addressing the pain” one of the major cause of sciatica is a compression of the spine resulting in a pinching of your sciatic nerve. Even though the pain is generally felt in the lumbar region only addressing this area with sciatica nerve exercises (therefore only addressing the symptoms) will not be an efficient way to go about it. You will need to consider the chain of muscles linked to your pelvis and lumbar, you will need to consider your system as a whole. In the next chapters we will have a look at how myofascial release can help you start restore some balance in your lumbo-pelvic hip complex (known as LPHC) followed by the necessity to decompress your spinal structure and finally why it will be fundamental for you to work on improving your gait cycle.
TIP 1: MYOFASCIAL RELEASES
As stated above if you suffer from sciatica you most likely have a compression of tissues in your LPHC. The goal of myofascial release is to help you regain some space and allow those tissues to get hydrated. Once they get that hydration back they’ll work better with the surrounding muscles and other tissues to ultimately help you get some sciatica nerve pain relief.
- The first muscle to focus on is your tensor fascia latae also known as TFL. As explained in the book ‘The Power of Posture’ by Naudi Aguilar (founder of Functional Patterns) the TFL is a crucial muscle to release to help you fight the tendency of your pelvis to stay stuck in one position and therefore not letting the glute complex work properly.
- The second muscle that will be helpful to release is the large muscle at the front of your thigh, your rectus femoris. This muscle could be very tight due to prolonged periods of sitting or fitness exercises like squats and lunges done in a non integrative manner. The rectus femoris will then become dominant whenever you’re standing or walking and will stop the muscles of the back chain of your thigh from working efficiently while also causing wrong tensions in your lower back.
- The third area to release will be the gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus area (see 10 week online course for details). That upper glute complex will tend to become very compensatory relative to the tightness of your rectus femoris, it will be crucial to get those tissues hydrated to start giving space to your sciatic nerve.
TIP 2: DECOMPRESSION OF YOUR SPINE
Your spine is composed of three main elements:
The bone structures called the vertebrae
The intervertebral disks: the flat round cushions designed to absorb shocks between each vertebra
The spinal canal containing the spinal cord made of nervous tissues
From that description it is easy to see how a compression of an area of the spine could cause severe pain. It is important to understand that your spine is not a rigid structure, it should be able to flex and extend at certain levels, it should also be able to rotate at certain levels. Any imbalances in those different motions could cause some problems.
If you tend to be stuck in a bad posture, a rounded upper back position for example (called a kyphosis) your upper spine does not have the ability to straighten itself. The inability of this area to extend could cause some compensations in the lower part of your spine like your lumbar and vice versa.
Myofascial release will be the start to hydrate some tissues in your body to then help you work towards a better alignment of your spinal structure.
TIP 3: IMPROVE YOUR GAIT CYCLE
Us humans have evolved through 4 main functions: Standing, Walking, Running and Throwing. The better you can execute those functions the closer you can get to a pain free life. Focusing on improving your gait cycle will then be crucial to permanently get rid of your sciatica. The more you work on your body as a system to integrate your whole structure (muscles, bones, fascia) in movements like walking and running the lesser will be your tendency to compensate and compress some tissues in your lower back.
Improving the coordination of all the muscles of your body when you do a step forward will be the key to fix your sciatica in a sustainable way, that approach will be much more helpful and holistic than solely focusing on sciatica stretches.
In this short clip Naudi Aguilar explains how improving the coordination between the hip flexion on one leg and the hip extension on the opposite leg will functionally help you get an active stretch where it’s needed.
(Select image above to open a new window to watch)
There is a way to permanently cure your sciatica and get back to a pain free existence. To achieve that you will have to step away from the conventional path of sciatica nerve stretches or sciatica self-care remedies.
Start to consider your system rather than just your symptoms, it is the path to start fixing your pain for good.