by Amanda Jane Snyder
Got Sciatica? Try these unique exercises!
I certainly have suffered from this in the past, and let me tell you, IT'S THE WORST!
Back in 2014 when I was living the Actor/Singer/Dancer/ hustle life, I injured my lower back so bad that I couldn’t audition. I couldn’t even MOVE let alone audition. Basic movements were a no-go. Oh you want me to stand up and walk around? Can’t do it without debilitating pain.
I was suffering from sciatica brought on by a slipped disk in my lumbar spine.
What IS Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to radiating pain along the sciatic nerve starting at the glute area and extending as far as the toes. Sciatica is usually a symptom of the problem, not the actual problem. As mentioned above, for me, sciatica was brought on by a slipped disk that was pinching the sciatic nerve, causing the radiating pain. The most common cause is from a slipped disk, but it can also be caused by bone spurs or other factors.
How can we TREAT it?
Most PTs or Trainers will give you the common pigeon pose which may alleviate the pain temporarily but doesn't get to the underlying root cause.
If you're suffering from sciatica your best bet is to practice core and glute strengthening exercises. Most likely your lower back is over compensating for the lack of core or glute strength, and therefore all the pressure causes a disk to protrude, making contact with the sciatic nerve.
Build Strength While You Stretch
One unique core and glute strengthening exercise that I've seen work wonders time and time again is the 90/90 PAILs/RAILs. Essentially, we're building strength as we stretch the piraformis rather than just sitting passively in a pigeon pose.
You can do this by creating isometric tension.
So what are PAILs/RAILs? These terms stem from a specific style of training called Functional Range Conditioning which essentially is designed to build strength within flexibility. PAILs stands for Progressive Angular Isometric Loading and RAILs stands for Regressive Angular Isometric Loading. It's exactly how it sounds. We want to progressively increase the amount of isometric (muscular tension and activation without movement of the muscle i.e. a plank is an example of an isometric exercise) load into our hips, followed immediately by REgressive loading reversing the internal pressure into the opposite direction for 10-30s seconds. By doing so we will slowly create space in our hip joint capsule allowing for greater ease of hip external rotation, taking the pressure off of the sciatic nerve. By strengthening WHILE stretching, we're making progress towards eliminating the pain for good. I recommend 1 set of 2-5 minutes per side for the entire PAIL/RAIL set.
Amanda Jane Snyder is a certified FRCms from which the ideas in this article stem. She is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Mindset Coach living in Brooklyn, NY. She has been vegan since 2016. She specializes in Strength and Conditioning for Actors, Singers, and Dancers.