Friday, July 27, 2012

Sciatica - Steps to Relief!

I was reading the current issue of Yoga Journal Magazine yesterday and happened upon an article about sciatica. BACK PAIN is NOT what anyone is looking for ... it is one of the reasons why people exercise. Let's look at ways we can strengthen our backs to ward off or relieve sciatica pain!

The PIRIFORMIS MUSCLE needs to be strong to assist us in movement. This muscle can get irritated and rub against the sciatic nerve, thus causing the condition known commonly as sciatica. Yoga Journal has a list of poses that can assist in relieving sciatica, check out the full list when you have a moment.

A great YOGI stretch the piriformis includes tree pose.

TREE POSE can be done seated or standing. Standing is traditional BUT seated is an option if you are just starting or inflamed. To modify into a seated pose, sit with your legs as they would be in the standing position. If your right knee is bent, then place your hands on the floor behind you and open your right hip slightly to the right. DO NOT attempt to square your hips - the focus is to externally rotate the hip of the bent knee leg. Do the same for the left side. What do you do with your hands you may ask? Well, you can keep them in prayer and focus on your breathing and posture, aiming your shoulders in opposite directions, rather than rounding them (which is how we tend to sit in a chair or in the car - fight the urge!). You can take your hands in prayer behind your back or lift your arms into a "goal post" to open your shoulders. Tree pose is great for sciatica as it strengthens the piriformis muscle and stretches the "glutes" as the hip externally rotates. If you need support, place a hand on a wall or a chair to help the lower leg stay strong!

Another YOGI stretch for the piriformis includes padangusthasana and its variations. This pose allows the glutes to stretch, which in turn, make the piriformis work a little bit less as it will encounter less resistance. Variations for this pose exist. One variation is to approach this pose from a seated position and another is to bend your knees (seated or standing) enough to accommodate the length of YOUR hamstrings. Not everyone can touch their toes with straight what you not hurt yourself to look like the "picture perfect pose". The picture gives you a mental picture of where your practice is growing.

This pose can be taken to another level with full engagement of the piriformis and, thus, an external rotation of the hip. Again, this can be done supine and with a strap or towel to help you reach your toes/foot. EXTENDED HAND-TO-BIG-TOE POSE is a deep stretch...engage your abdominals by drawing your navel to your spine so you keep your back strong as you work through your glutes and piriformis.

Keep working each day to maintain a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle.

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