5 Tips For Preventing Sciatica

You feel the numbing, tingling pain of sciatica in your buttocks, down the back of your leg, and even into your feet — interfering with your day-to-day activities, from driving to workouts.

Sciatica is a symptom, not a condition in itself. It’s usually due to a back problem, such as a herniated lumbar disc or spinal stenosis. The sciatic nerve starts in your lower spine, weaves through your buttocks, and runs down the back of your legs to your toes. You experience pain when fibers in this nerve become pinched or inflamed, usually by an errant disc.

At The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas, we believe the way to prevent sciatica is to keep your back as healthy as possible. Start with these five tips from Thomas L. Jones II, MD.

Keep Moving

Being physically active is one of the best ways to keep your back healthy. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate cardio most days of the week. Walking, cycling or dance are good options. Physical activity improves circulation, preserves your back’s range of motion, and strengthens your muscles — all of which keeps your back healthy.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese puts extra pressure on your spine and, especially if you carry the pounds in your belly, throws off your center of gravity. This can lead to a lumbar disc herniation, a major cause of sciatica. If you need to lose weight, talk to Dr. Jones about the steps you can take — including a healthy diet and exercise — to drop those excess pounds.

Preserve Your Posture

Good posture keeps your spine in good shape. Pay attention when you sit or stand so that you’re not slouching. Keep your shoulders balanced over your hips and, if standing, your hips over your heels.

If you have a job that keeps you at a desk much of the day, get up and move around few minutes every hour to keep your circulation going. Make sure your desk chair has good lower back support and a swivel base. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and place a pillow or rolled towel at the small of your back to encourage the natural curve.

Get a Good Mattress

Sleep supports good health, so get the requisite seven to nine hours every night. Where you sleep also makes a difference. Invest in a good mattress that allows you to maintain natural spinal alignment — like you have when you stand up tall. Your muscles can relax as you sleep, including those around your spine.

Do Yoga

Yoga can teach you how your body moves and how to be in better touch with sensations. You learn to stretch correctly and safely while maintaining proper alignment. A regular yoga practice, such as two to three sessions per week, promotes a healthy spine that is less likely to contribute to sciatica. Check out classes at a local studio or online.

If you suffer from sciatica, these steps can help you overcome your pain and prevent it from recurring in the future. Dr. Jones can offer other therapies to help you manage the pain in the meantime.

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