Affecting more than 3 million U.S. cases per year, sciatica is a very common condition that either you or someone you know may be struggling with. Sciatica refers to the pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, occurring on one side of the body from the lower back, following through the hips and buttocks down to each leg. For some people, sciatic pain can be intermittent and irritating; for others, it can be debilitating to the point where they may be robbed of performing simple, everyday activities. Though you should seek prompt medical attention from your health professional, here are some things you can also avoid doing that may be exacerbating your pain.
Wearing high heels and uncushioned shoes
Though high heels may provide a polished and put-together look, regular wear can be detrimental for your sciatica. The reason being is that they throw your weight forward, which may cause you to flex forward at your hips. This movement can stretch the hamstrings in the back (the same route that the sciatic nerve runs through) and irritate your sciatica.
Keeping it in your back pocket
Our wallets, credit cards or cell phones may often take up rent in the back pocket of our jeans. Little do we know that prolonged sitting with these items on our tush can literally be a pain in the butt. When this happens, we irritate our piriformis muscle, which is located deep in the buttocks, resulting in pressure for the sciatic nerve, which runs underneath or through this muscle.
Submitting to self-sabotage
Are you regularly stressing yourself out? Turns out your emotions aren’t the only area being impacted. Dr. John Sarno, Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, and Attending Physician at The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University Medical Center says that it’s the people who put pressure on themselves—especially Type A people pleasers—who are most at risk. According to Sarno, the brain deprives the nerves of oxygen [mildly], which results in the same symptoms of shooting leg pain, weakness and other electrical sensations.
Squeezing into tight jeans or underwear
Wearing overly tight-fitting jeans isn’t just a fashion faux pas; you could be aggravating your sciatic nerve pain through unnecessary compression. Opt for clothing that will allow you, and your blood circulation, to flow freely and provide comfort with each move you make.
Packing on the pounds
As you may have learned, anything that puts pressure on the lower back and pelvis will worsen symptoms of sciatica. According to a study reported in “Arthritis & Rheumatism”, every extra pound of body weight adds four pounds of compression force on the joints and back. Being unable to exercise enough due to sciatic pain is a major reason for weight gain among sufferers, however, an increase in weight leads to worsening sciatica and immobility. Significant weight loss isn’t necessary in order to begin seeing reduced inflammation or feeling abnormal stress. Physical therapy is a beneficial option for losing weight through a structured weight program.