Sciatica refers to a sharp, lightning-like pain which shoots down the back of the leg. It occurs if the herniating material from a ruptured lumbar spinal disc impinges on the delicate nerve roots emerging from the lower three lumbar and first two sacral segments of the spinal columns which converge to form the sciatic nerve.
The nerve runs down the back of each leg, reaching through the skin and muscles of the back of thighs, calves and soles. This is why sciatic pain may sometimes be felt in the calf, thighs or buttocks. When the impingement is felt, pain shoots down the leg, resulting in a neurological response of tightening muscle or spasm. Each step taken causes additional pain due to the injured nerve roots.
Fortunately, yoga offers effective and simple solutions that have long term benefits for sciatica.
In the first few days, rest from exertion is an absolute necessity to begin the healing process. Place cold packs over the inflamed area to stop the inflammation. Reduce movement to avoid further aggravation to the injured area. After the first 72 hours, place heat packs on the injured area to allow recovery. Be disciplined about resting and not take any injury lightly to ensure a quicker recovery.
2. Yoga Therapy
Yoga therapy simply means using yoga as a form of treatment to heal or relieve a disorder. Traditional yoga asanas, pranayamas and meditation all have their purpose and place in body health and applied with deep understanding of their applications and benefits. Seek an experienced yoga teacher with over 10-15 years in teaching and with sound understanding of yoga. Do your background check, find out what styles of yoga they teach, speak to them about their experience and recommended treatments for you. Just as we pay for a doctor for consultation and meditation, do be prepared to pay for experienced teachers as well.
Asanas can be re-introduced when the healing process has begun and the swelling and pain greatly reduced. Backbends strengthens the posterior ligaments and muscles, promoting blood flow into the lower spinal region. Practice them gradually, increasing time of practice each day in order to restore stability and regain full range of movement.
4. Develop a Yoga Programme
As you let time heal the injury, a pain management programme should be in place. Muscle relaxants offer instant relief of pain for highly debilitating pain that obstructs our daily functioning, but are often temporary. Instead, address the pain with long term goals to manage the pain and prevent future pain. The programme should include asana, relaxation, meditation and changes to lifestyle. Most experienced teachers should be able to assist with a daily programme that will suit your needs and lifestyle. If you are serious about improving your health, you need to follow the recommendation with sincerity, otherwise don’t expect magic to happen.
Overhaul your lifesyle if you are currently leading a sedentary lifestyle with little or no back exercises. Learn a few asanas and perform daily to preserve strength and flexibility of the spinal muscles, discs and ligaments. Avoid sitting on chairs for extensive periods of time or using back rests which weaken back muscles. Adopt good posture for sitting that uses our core muscles and good practices for lifting heavy weights from the floor. Avoid bending from the lower back excessively to prevent strain on the lower back.
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