The natural instinct after experiencing sciatica while walking, when the pain hits you hard, is to take medication and then sit or lie as still as possible and wait for the worst of the discomfort to abate.
With the right level of support for sciatic pain, rest can certainly bring relief.
However, there is a strong body of opinion that what is more important is gentle physical activity such as walking, especially with recurrent sciatica that interferes with daily living.
Walking is actually one of the most often overlooked remedies for problems with the sciatic nerve. Especially as this is a medical issue that often manifests itself as searing pain in the leg, and even numbness in the foot.
In fact, low impact aerobic exercise – such as a gentle walk – can be more beneficial than long periods of bed rest and keeping your body immobile.
This is partly as it avoids the discomfort that can originate from keeping your limbs still for long periods. Moving encourages blood flow, which is vital for the healing process and keeps the body more flexible and mobile. The benefit is also because walking helps release endorphins, a hormone with proven ability to help reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain. They are the bodies own natural morphine.
That’s not to say walking always works, as it can worsen your symptoms if you do too much too soon.
Steps to relieving sciatica while walking
- Little and often – A few steps four or five times every hour is much better than sitting for long periods without moving
- Start by going for short walks – Overdoing it is a self inflicting pain. Sometimes you can over do it now and pay the price later. To help alleviate your sciatic pain gradually increase your distance and time as you feel you have the energy and your confidence grows. It is better to do a little bit under than a little bit over.
- Pay attention to your posture – By this we do not mean try to walk like someone who has had deportment lessons! Just be mindful to walk as upright as you can without triggering any sharp pain and try to let your whole body be part of the forward motion. Scrunching over or holding yourself stiff as you walk could worsen symptoms or add new issues.
- Use support if necessary – It should not be a starting point, but for people who are really struggling to get moving then using a stick, or a crutch, on the affected side to try and off-load the body weight on that side can sometimes be helpful. Whether this is possible depends on the upper body strength of the person and whether they have any other issues going on. Probably best to try both sides and whichever feels more comfortable go with that. Getting moving with a support is better than not moving at all.
In praise of rest
Those are tips to help alleviate sciatica while walking, but an important aspects after physical activity is rest and recovery. This is difficult to do while standing so the same attention to how you supporting yourself while walking applies to when you are resting to help alleviate sciatic pain. For instance, curling or leaning too much while sitting may compresses the areas around the lower back and trigger the sciatic nerve. Again we are not looking for perfection in posture as there is no such thing. Just be aware and notice what works for you. Sciatica has a habit of giving you a reminder if you don’t!
Our Sciatic Pain Relief Cushion is designed to help when you’re driving or working, but also while sitting and resting at home.
No single way of managing sciatic pain works equally well for everyone. The trick is to explore various ways to manage your way trough to recovery to find one or a combination that brings you relief.