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Sciatica Foot Pain Exercises

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You honestly don’t know what pain is until you’ve experienced nerve pain. To say that it is among the most excruciating and intense forms of pain, there is a gross understatement. Think – searing heat, electric shock, and lightning bolts all wrapped into one. Yup, that should paint a pretty clear picture.

The mother of them all is the lower back, leg, and foot pain caused by sciatica. It holds the crown for the most dreaded type of nerve damage there is.

What makes sciatica so painful? Is it curable? Is there anything you can do to make it better if you have it?

This guide explores the answers to these questions in-depth and details the exercises you can do to relieve sciatica, causing foot pain.

Sciatic Nerve and Foot Pain – How Are They Related?

Sciatica refers to the pain that affects the sciatic nerve. It is the longest and largest nerve in the human body that extends from the lumbar region of the lower area of the back down through each leg.

Most people often assume that the pain is the result of the sciatic nerve getting compressed somewhere along its path. Plausible as it may be, this isn’t always the case.

More often than not, it’s the individual nerve roots that get compressed, causing the infamous excruciating pain that people with this condition experience. Compression could be due to a spinal bone spur, a herniated disk, or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine).

sciatic nerve image

It manifests as a sharp pain that shoots through the leg along the path of the nerve. In most cases, it typically affects the L4 or L5 of the sciatic root.

Doctors can pinpoint the exact nerve roots by identifying where the pain terminates. It could go down to the side of the foot or down to the big toe. Other common symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Sciatica pain in shin and foot
  • Sciatica pain pins and needles in the foot or a tingling sensation in the region
  • Shooting pain that originates from the lower back, through the buttock and down the back of either leg

What Is the Treatment for Sciatica Foot Pain?

The treatment route depends on whether you’re suffering from acute or chronic sciatic nerve pain.

Treatment for acute sciatica includes taking self-care measures like:

  • Taking over-the-counter painkillers
  • Brisk walking or doing light-stretching exercises
  • Using hot and cold compression packs on the lower back region
painkiller

Remember, while you might feel the pain in your foot, you need to treat the source of the pain, which is your lower back. Treatment for chronic sciatica foot pain, on the other hand, involves the same self-care measures prescribed for acute pain combined with some medical treatments that include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy – which trains the affected individuals to react differently to their pain
  • Surgery – when the symptoms continue to intensify despite other treatments

Surgical options might involve doing a lumbar laminectomy where doctors widen the spinal cord in the lower back region to reduce pressure on the nerves or a discectomy, which is a procedure that involves partially or completely removing a herniated disk. Surgery is always the last resort after all other options fail to yield the desired results.

Exercises for Sciatica

Exercises for sciatica focus on stretches that externally rotate the hips to release compression on the root nerves in the lower back. Try these six exercises to alleviate sciatica foot pain.

sciatica nerve 3d image

Knee to Shoulder

  1. Lie flat on your back
  2. Raise your left leg toward your upper body and clasp your hands around the knee
  3. Gently pull it as towards your right shoulder and hold for 20 to 30 seconds
  4. Return your leg and arms to their original position
  5. Repeat with the other leg and alternate between them

Spinal Stretch

  1. Sit on the ground with your legs extended out in front of you
  2. Bend your left knee and place your left foot flat on the ground on the outer side of your outstretched right leg
  3. Use your right hand to clasp around your bent left knee for supports as you slowly twist your torso towards the right as far back as you can
  4. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds and return your hand and leg to their original position
  5. Repeat with the other leg and keep alternating between them

Hamstring Stretch

  1. While standing, place your left foot on an elevated surface that’s at your hip level or below
  2. With both arms outstretched, bend forward and attempt to touch your toes trying to get your face as close as possible to your knee without hurting your back
  3. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds and release
  4. Return your leg to its original position
  5. Repeat with the other leg and keep alternating between them

Reclining Pigeon

  1. Lie flat on your back and lift your right leg into a right angle position and hold it there
  2. Lift your left leg and place your left ankle on top of your right knee
  3. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds before returning both feet to the ground
  4. Repeat with the other leg and keep alternating between them

Sitting Pigeon

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you
  2. Bend your left leg and put the left ankle on top of the right knee
  3. Lean forward with arms outstretched and touch the toes of your right foot
  4. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds before stretching both feet again
  5. Repeat with the other leg and keep alternating between them

Forward Pigeon

  1. Kneel on all fours
  2. Move your left leg forward across you as though attempting to sit cross-legged
  3. Out-stretch your right leg behind you
  4. Use your arms to lower your upper body to the ground like you would when doing a push-up and hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds
  5. Use your arms to raise your body and return both feet to their original position
  6. Repeat with the other leg and alternate between them

We know sciatica is a huge pain in the …. foot. Hopefully some of these exercises and remedy ideas will help you deal with that pain. Good luck!

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