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Exercise Ball for Sciatica Relief

by
author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Exercise Ball for Sciatica Relief
a man laying on his back on an exercise ball with his arms extended behind his head. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The sciatic nerve begins in your lower back and runs down your leg. When this nerve becomes pinched, you experience pain, numbness or tingling. To alleviate this pain and reduce nerve inflammation, you can use an exercise ball, a common physical therapy tool. With frequent and consistent exercise, you can experience relief.

Causes

A degenerative condition or injury can result in sciatica. Degenerative conditions include lumbar spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis, where a vertebra slips out of place due to disk degeneration, according to Medline Plus. Trauma such as a car accident or hit to the lower back also can lead to sciatica. Your physician can diagnose this condition via a physical exam and imaging tests. He may recommend conservative treatments, such as ice and physical therapy using an exercise ball can help reduce symptoms.

Benefits

An exercise ball is a beneficial tool for sciatica relief because of its ability to work your back muscles, often without you knowing it, according to Spine-Health. Sitting or lying on the exercise ball creates an element of instability, which requires spinal and abdominal muscles to contract to stabilize the body. Strengthening these muscles can reduce your sciatica pain. Because exercising with the ball promotes a neutral spine position, this can help you to maintain proper form when performing sciatica exercises.

Seated Exercise

This exercise from Spine-Health aims to open the spinal canal where the sciatic nerve lies and to strengthen the back muscles. Begin by sitting on the ball and placing your hands on your hips. Slowly pull your pelvis toward your belly button to feel a stretch in the lower back. Return your hips to your starting position, then reverse the exercise by arching the back. Return the hips to neutral position. Repeat the entire sequence for a total of 10 repetitions.

Stretching Exercise

To perform this exercise from Spine-Health, begin kneeling with your hands on the exercise ball. Move your hands away from the body to roll the exercise ball away and move your body forward. Keep your back as straight as possible and your head aligned with your body. Roll the ball to the right side, then the left. Return to your starting position, then perform five additional repetitions.

Misconception

While sciatica pain may leave you wishing to stay in bed to rest, doing so can hinder your recovery, according to Spine-Health. While resting one to two days after your pain flares up can help, inactivity beyond this time frame can weaken your back. Instead, engage in exercise ball exercises and other movements that help to strengthen the back and stimulate spinal fluid to the spinal discs.

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