Top Yoga Poses For Sciatica Pain:
The basics. What is Sciatica? What we’d like to first offer is, a brief background of the condition known as sciatica. Much of this information is referenced via the Cleveland Clinic. Then, we’ll dive into research specific to yoga, sciatica pain, and even pain in general. Furthermore, we’ll work our way through some top yoga poses for sciatica pain.
Sciatica, according to the Cleveland Clinic, is compression, irritation, inflammation or pinching of a nerve in your lower back. Sciatica can be caused by a number of different aliments. Oftentimes, the pressure is due to a herniated or slipped disk from an injury or chronic irritation.
Check out this graphic, showing you the points where one may experience pain.
Said pain can not only be localized, but oftentimes, radiates down the leg. In fact, the pain you experience can be anywhere along the nerve. For example, the hips, and buttocks, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Harvard Health explains that as much as 40% of people will actually suffer from sciatica, at one point in their lives. Wow! That’s a lot of people, right!
What Does it Feel Like?
According to Spine-Health.com, sciatica can be associated with not just pain, but also “numbness in the back of the leg, one-sided symptoms, and posture induced symptoms”.
Sciatica pain can be in the from of sensations. For example, “burning”, “electric”, or “stabbing”. Oftentimes, affecting one leg, however it is possible to occur in both, Cleveland Clinic explains.
Related Article: How To Use Yoga To Help With Back Pain: Yoga Stretching For the Upper And Lower Back
How is Sciatica Treated?
Prior to discussing sciatica and yoga’s potential impact, let’s discuss (in general), how sciatica is treated.
Sciatica pain, according to Cleveland Clinic is oftentimes about symptom relief (like pain-relief). Additionally, bettering your mobility. Many cases relieve themselves overtime with self-care treatments. This includes, ice packs/hot packs, over-the-counter-medications, and gentle stretching.
We’ll focus on, the “gentle stretch” part.
People who suffer from acute bouts of sciatica usually recover in about 4-8 weeks. This information comes from a specific literature review on sciatica and lower back pain. However, of the individuals who suffer from lower back pain, 25%-80% will have some form of reoccurrence one year later.
Here are 3 Exercises for Symptoms Relief
What Does the Research Say About, Yoga for Sciatica?
One things for sure. Always check with your primary care doctor, or another qualified health professional, such as a physical therapist, prior to doing yoga for sciatica and/or symptom relief.
We are in no way saying that yoga is the end-all treatment. However, there are poses that may help you generate some relief from sciatica pain.
Several research studies are available that give a little more insight to yoga for sciatica, or lower back pain in general.
One such study was published in 2015. The study included 61 subjects with non-specific lower back pain (nsLBP) or sciatica. Furthermore, the subjects were split into 2 groups. A yoga group and a “normal medical care group” (the control group).
They underwent 3 months of treatments. In conclusion, the yoga group experienced less lower back pain and disability scores. Yoga was determined to be a safe alternative treatment for patients with nsLBP, accompanied by disc extrusions and bulges.
A study published more recently, 2019, emphasized not just (helpful) postures that may be helpful in sciatica or lower back pain relief, but breathing and relaxation techniques to suit individuals needs. The study concluded that;
- nearly 77% of individuals practicing yoga for 30-days, experienced pain relief.
- 80% had reductions in stiffness, and
- nearly 80% had relief in “pricking” sensation.
A randomized control trial compared yoga, exercise, and a selfcare book for chronic lower back pain. Not only did results show that yoga was “superior” to the book and exercise groups at 12-weeks, but the benefits persisted for “several months”.
A literature review (2016) was completed on the efficacy of yoga for chronic lower back pain (CLBP). Specifically, the review focused on “how yoga impacts physical functioning and disability, pain, and psychological symptoms”. Sciatica is not only a debilitating condition from a physical perspective. Moreover, people who suffer from CLBP have other associated symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and reduced quality of life.
Yoga continues to grow in popularity, as it was the 7th most popular CAM therapy in 2007. Oftentimes, used forms of therapies to treat musculoskeletal conditions.
Another study totaling 90 participants, aimed to evaluate lyengar yoga therapy on CLBP. Multiple evaluation tools were used to assess a 24-week, biweekly yoga class, designed specifically for CLBP. Results showed reductions in functional disability and pain intensity compared to a control group. The study also concluded psychological benefits, like decreased depression within the yoga group.
A larger 313 participant study assessed yoga on CLBP, to “usual care” for CLBP. The yoga group received a 12-class yoga program over 3 months. The control group was given an education booklet. The results showed an improvement in back function among the yoga group, with similar outcomes in pain scores.
Important Note: While there is research suggesting benefits of yoga for pain, it’s up to you to know your physical limitations. Speak to a professional first. Whether that be a certified yoga instructor, physical therapist or other medical personnel. Oftentimes, yoga (and/or stretching programs) are great adjuncts to other treatments.
Top Yoga Poses For Sciatica Pain
1. Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward dog is one of the most well-known yoga poses. It is utilized in many yoga routines. However, did you know, it can specifically help stretch your lower back. Moreover, potentially helping to aide in pain relief from bouts of sciatica.
It not only promotes full-body strengthening, and helping to correct imbalances, but offers a purposeful stretch of the back.
Downward facing dog is a beginner friendly pose, done in a prone position. It’s an inversion, forward-bend, stretch and strength-type pose. Emphasis of this asana is on the arms, shoulders, mid and lower back, core, hamstrings, calves and pelvic region.
1. Beginning on your yoga mat in the prone position (on your belly), come up on your hands and knees, or all fours. Hands should be roughly shoulder-width apart.
2. Then lift your hips upward towards the ceiling and back, while also coming up on your toes.
3. Continue the movement by bringing your head down, to which your ears become in line with your upper arms. Keep your back straight, pressing your hands into the mat, rocking back slightly onto your heels.
4. Your legs should remain straight, eyes looking up at your naval.
5. Breath and hold for 1-2 minutes.
2. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Add Cobra pose to the list of asanas that can be used to aide in stretching the lower back.
Bhujangasana is a beginner-friendly pose. It’s considered a back-bend type pose. Cobra pose is beneficial for your back, as well as opening up the chest, shoulders and firming the glutes.
1. Begin prone on the floor, with the tops of your feet touching the mat.
2. Then, place your hands down, (pressing into the yoga mat), roughly shoulder-width apart. Activate your thighs and lower legs pressing them into the mat.
3. Now, begin to lift your chest off the floor, extending your arms to get a better stretch.
4. Drop the shoulders back, pressing the chest forward, keeping the pubic bone pressing against the ground.
5. The back should be evenly arched. Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
3. Bridge Pose (Setubandha Sarvangasana)
Bridge pose is another great asana for stretching the back. Although a beginner type pose, offers additional benefits for strength and stamina. This pose can aide in toning up your core, legs, and buttocks.
Like Cobra, Bridge pose is another back-bend type maneuver, offering benefits geared toward strength and balance.
1. Firstly, begin on your back or the supine position. You can place a yoga blanket under your neck to help protect it during this asana.
2. Next, spread your legs about hip-width apart, bending them up toward your buttocks, so that they are perpendicular to the floor or slightly more.
3. Press with your arms and shoulders lifting your hips upward. The chest should lift as well.
4. At this time, your legs and buttocks should be activated to help stabilize and balance the body.
5. Then, clasp your hands together underneath the back of your thighs. Keep your feet firmly placed on the mat, continuing to press into your heels.
6. Breath and hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute.
Related Article: Expand Your Yoga Routine with these Yoga Props
4. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Finally, Childs pose or Balasana. With emphasis on your lower back, Child’s pose is a great restorative, forward-bend type pose. Additionally, Child’s pose is great to incorporative in between more challenging asanas.
1. Firstly, start on your knees, touching your big toes together, with your knees about hip-width apart.
2. Then, exhale, lowering your hips to your heels, forehead down, and hands palm-side-down to the mat in front. (Alternatively, place your hands palms-up alongside your torso).
3. Attempt to release tension from the lower back, for additional elongation.
4. Breath focused and slowly. Hold for 2 minutes.
Yoga can be a very effective from of CAM therapy. Many different styles can be used to improve upon aspects of your life. This can be physically, mentally and/or spiritually.
If you’re someone who suffers from lower back pain, conditions like sciatica, and other painful physical ailments, yoga may just be beneficial to add into your therapies or daily routines.
We hope you enjoyed this post. As you explore yoga for sciatica and/or lower back pain, you may find certain asanas, or styles of yoga work better for you. Listed above can be both beneficial, but also more beginner friendly.
- www.researchgate.net/publication/331035235_EFFICACY_OF_YOGASANA_IN_THE_MANAGEMENT_OF_GRUDHRASI_SCIATICA https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/full/10.7326/0003-4819-143-12-200512200-00003