I was a guest on a podcast and at the end of the interview, the host asked me what were the most common causes of Sciatica pain. There are there major causes of Sciatica pain:
- Tissue changes resulting in sciatic nerve irritation: Disc irritation and arthritic changes of the vertebrae itself.
- Excessive motion at the spine resulting in extraneous stress on the structures around the nerves
- Inefficient movement resulting in increased stress at the spine
All three of these causes share a common issue and that is inefficient movement at the hips. That means that there is not enough or there is improper movement of the hip joint resulting in extra motion and stress at the spine or other structures surround the sciatic nerve. The hip joint is responsible for six motions: lifting your knee up, kicking your leg back, turning the leg out, turning the leg in, kicking the leg out, and pulling the leg in.
Unfortunately due to prolonged sitting, the reduced need to squat, and the demonization of bending forward at the hip has resulted in poor hip motion. Here are two of my favorite hip stretches that I find to be effective at restoring motion.
The hip flexion floss– if you can assume position, it addresses both hip flexion (knee up) and hip extension (leg back). I do this stretch every day to keep my hips loss. This will help out motions like squatting. I usually do this for about 60-90s.
The hip extension floss– this stretch helps with anyone who spends a lot of time in standing. It is really easy to sit the hips forward and ‘arch’ the back which can result in pinching of the nerves that form the sciatic nerve. I usually do this for 60-90s.
This last (extra stretch) is something that I like to do if I know that I’m sitting for a long period of time; I call it the hip rocker. I’ll end up rocking on my sit bones so that I can maximize hip motion and minimize excessive rounding/arching of the back. I do this about 10 times every hour that I sit.
Not having enough motion in the hip can result in excessive movement at the back. As a result, we’re dealing with extra stresses that can lead to irritation. This is something that I also share with my clients when working on improving their movement so they can return back to being pain free.
What is your favorite stretch? Have you worked on your hips?