Exercise is exercise - or is it?
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
"Seasonal" sciatica hits me at this time of year, with constant pain traveling from hip to toes on my left side. Until the weather changes completely to summer, pain will be a regular visitor, one which I feel is like the over-long guest (fish and guests are good for about 3 days!)
But, several years ago, I went to a physical therapist/sports medicine doctor for some relief. Instead of another steroid shot, he suggested a group of strengthening exercises to give some relief. These 5 exercises have been a life-saver to me all the time, but especially now. Since they are doctor-approved, I will explain how to do them. Any of you with sciatica, disc or lower back problems will benefit from these (and - the coolest part- they are counted as strength-training on your fitness tracker!)
1.) Lay on your bed with a pillow under your head, stopping at your neck. Keep your legs out straight and arms at your sides. Pull in your stomach, squeeze your butt cheeks together, and push your behind into the mattress. Hold for 5 seconds (or more), then release and take several deep breaths. Repeat this 4 more times (or more).
2.) Lay the same way, but bend your knees. Keep feet flat on mattress. Do the same exercise and then several deep breaths after.
3.) Lay flat on bed (still with pillow under head) and bring right knee up as far as you can and hold with hands for 5 seconds. Drop back down and do the same with the left knee. While you are holding your knee in place, try to squeeze your stomach muscles. Do each knee 5 (or more) times.
4.) Now bring both knees up and hold with both hands. Raise your head off the pillow as far as you can. Hold for 5 seconds. Do this 5 (or more) times. Lay flat and takes several deep breaths.
5.) Sit up with left leg straight ahead of you on bed and right leg hanging down the side of the bed, with knee bent. Brace your hands on mattress behind you and push forward, keeping hands on mattress. Hold 5 seconds. Do this 5 times. Then shift and do 5 times with right leg out straight and left leg on side.
Take several deep breaths. You did it! (and got some crunches in, too!)
This is a feel-good group of exercises and that's why it really doesn't seem like you're exercising! While you may not break a sweat, it gives your muscles strength and tightens your core. I have been doing these for 6 months and can see a big difference already. I just wish Mr. Sciatica would go away!