How to Walk Your Way to Sciatica Pain Relief
Most of us take walking for granted since we do it daily to get around, and often for exercise, too. In fact, we probably don’t even realize there is a right and wrong way to walk to relieve back pain.
When the sciatic nerve is being impinged upon by a bone, disc or muscle, a condition called sciatica can occur. But if we walk and stand correctly, our bones become aligned, and a better pathway is created for the flow of the sciatic nerve.
Posture determines how well we walk, and incorrect walking patterns can result in a consistent misalignment of the skeleton and a misuse of muscles – sometimes causing a slipped or herniated disc and often resulting in sciatica and pain.
Here are a couple of simple tips for better walking habits that can relieve or prevent sciatic nerve pain:
1. Shorten your stride as you walk. Taking steps that are too long results in unnecessary torque on the pelvis. A long stride also sets you up for hyper-extending the knee, which affects the lumbar spine with each step you take. In a long stride, the heel touches the ground forward of the knee, preventing a good weight transfer, and causing eventual pain in the pelvis and lumbar spine. Instead, aim for an ideal stride length, in which the heel lands under the knee. This stride transfers your weight correctly throughout your body.
2. As you walk, keep your thighs back and extend your buttocks out a bit. Often, people tuck the pelvis under as they stand or walk. Doing so is one of the worst things you can do for sciatic pain because the piriformis muscle tends to shorten, and the sacroiliac joints get tighter in such a stance. These factors can increase your chances of developing sciatic pain. Instead, concentrate on the placement of your thighs and buttocks as you walk, which may seem awkward at first. A spine doctor or physical therapist can help you to correct this, and other, problematic walking habits for a healthier spine and reduced pain.