Foam Roller Exercises for Sciatica – It doesn’t have to be painful

My aim with this article is to talk about sciatica and how you can actually use a foam roller and related stretches to alleviate that pain. If you don’t know what this condition is then stay tuned to find out more about it. Below you will find out what sciatica is, approximately how many people suffer from it and some helpful foam roller exercises for sciatica.

Warning: Some of these moves will require you to get close to your lower back. Please remember if you suffer from a herniated disc (known as a mechanical injury) you should consult your doctor before foam rolling on my lower back.

What is Sciatica?

When you’re talking about the condition known as Sciatica, you’re talking about irritation along the path of the sciatic nerve. This is a nerve that starts branching off at your lower hip area, goes through your buttocks and down your upper and lower leg. Think of this nerve as a central nerve. If this nerve gets compressed or pinched, the whole operation goes downhill. Moving becomes difficult and painful…not to mention, exercise! How can you even think about exercise with this going on?Sciatic-Nerve-Pain

According to the mayo clinic, sciatica happens when that sciatic nerve gets compressed by an issue with the spine. This can be caused by a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine, or a when the spine narrows through spinal stenosis.

Sciatica delivers a burning sensation and can be very painful, but don’t stress, it can be alleviated!

Who does it affect?

Did you know according to the National Institute of Health, that this condition affects n general an estimated 5%-10% of patients with low back pain? People are having to deal with this issue and we have to be aware of it.

It has a greater effect on…

    • Taller people
    • People within ages 45-64 years old
    • Smokers
    • People of drive constantly for a living
    • People who have a job that requires heavy lifting, bending and twisting.

This also has an effect on anybody who is not using proper form when exercising (weight lifting, yoga, stretching, Pilates, running, you name it!)

What can you do to make it less painful?

People with temporary sciatica nerve pain can stretch it out …or wait it out (I wouldn’t recommend that.) They can also use a foam roller!

But what about men and women dealing with chronic sciatic pain from herniated disc issues?

Can they benefit from a foam roller too? I’m glad you asked…of course they can! I guarantee you if you take your time and consistently practice these five exercises for sciatic nerve pain, you will be on your way to a life with much less daily pain.

Foam Roller Exercises for Sciatica that will Help you improve!

These don’t have to be performed in any particular order, but if you like my order here, feel free to go by that or pick which ones would work best for you and your situation!

1.) Hamstring Roll Out (60 seconds per side)
    • Go back and forth through the whole length of your hamstring.
    • Make sure you take your time with a slow roll.
    • Support yourself with your hands. If the pressure is too much, go to your elbows.

Hamstring-Rollout-with-foam-roller

2.) Pigeon (30 seconds per side)
    • Get into pigeon pose.
      • Take your left foot and extend it all the way up in front on your right knee.
      • Place the foam roller in front of your right knee and left foot.
    • Sit on the roller pressing into the top of your hamstring and lower glute.
    • Hold the pose and press in steadily.
    • Switch to the other side and repeat.

Pigeon-with-foam-roller-for-sciatica

3.) IT Band Rollout (60 seconds per side)
    • Turn on your side, right elbow on the floor.
    • Inset foam roller under your the upper side of your right leg.
      • Bend your left leg for support.
    • Press into your cushion right under your hip area (not on your hip bone.)
    • Switch to your other side and repeat.

IT Band-Rollout-with-a-foam-roller-for-sciatica

4.) Knee-to-chest stretch (30 seconds per side)

Warning: This stretch requires use of your lower back

    • Lay on your back
    • Place the foam roller under your glutes.
      • Bring your right knee towards your chest.
      • Place your left leg on the floor
    • Feel the pressure on those glutes and keep that angle.
    • Repeat on your right glute.

Knee-to-chest-stretch-with-a-foam-roller-for-sciatica

5.) Leg raises (10 Reps per side)

Warning: This stretch requires the use of your lower back

    • This is very similar to the knee-to-chest stretch but with some changes.
    • Place the foam roller under you where it will be running down the middle of your spine.
      • It should be between your shoulder blades and going all the way to your lower back.
    • Lay on it, place your left foot on the floor, bring your right foot to the sky.
    • Lift up, performing a leg raise slowly.
    • Make it a concentrated effort, not frenzied. (Slow and steady)

Leg-raises-with-a-foam-roller-for-sciatica

Conclusion

So, as you start to practice these exercises consistently and feel more comfort with them, up the ante (just a little) and add more pressure, add more time on to each move. You’ll start to see increased mobility and…less pain! Wouldn’t that be great! Just imagine, you can actually have a huge hand in lowering your daily pain levels. That just makes me happy thinking about it. No pills needed…just good ‘ol stretching.

Remember, it’s not going to fix all problems and I’m not a doctor…but I’ve experienced healing with this myself in different ways. Also, my wife did this not too long ago….and within about 10 minutes, she already was feeling some pain relief. It’s amazing what can happen if we treat our bodies with the healing power they deserve!

You are doing this for you, not for me. If it’s painful, stop and reassess your situation.

Ask yourself….

  • Should I be at this angle?
  • Am I feeling a stretch? Is it too much or loo little?
  • Would it help if I supported myself more and put less pressure on my problem area (hip area)?
  • Could I try adjusting my hips a little more to the left or to the right?

Please consult a doctor if your sciatica isn’t going away and ask about if using a foam roller is right for you. If it is, then please…go out and get one! It will make things so much better. Foam rolling can help with so many issues.

If you haven’t checked out my post on the Health Benefits of Foam Rolling …then please go to that post here and learn more about how amazing it can be for your health. Also, check out my post here on the different types of foam rollers out there and what would be best for you!

I hope and pray that this has been helpful to you as you move along on your journey to better health. If you try this workout, let me know how it went and if it helped you.

As always, I invite you to leave any comments, concerns, or questions down below in the comments section.

To your continued health,

Ryan

Reference Websites for this post

National Institute of Health – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1895638/

The Mayo Clinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sciatica/doctors-departments/ddc-20377442

Health Benefits of Foam Rolling – Does it actually work?

If you are the proud new owner of a beautiful, yet subtle and non-assuming foam roller…you may ask yourself what does this roller do? What makes so magical? How does this cylindrical-shaped roller help me out maintain great health as I age?

Foam Roller

It’s such a simple, and yet sophisticated piece of exercise equipment…

How in the world does it actually make a difference?

I can tell you from experience I”ve seen major improvements in the mechanics of my body through using my foam roller. Even just two times a week, you can see gains in both your physical well-being and in your mental awareness.

Well, with some research… I’ve put together my top four benefits of foam rolling! Hope you enjoy and get something great out of learning more about your foam rolling practices.

Keep reading to find out exactly what the health benefits of foam rolling are.

Health Benefit #1 – It Helps You Maintain Your Body’s Fascia

Okay, so you might be wondering…what’s fascia? People outside of the athlete or medical community don’t usually go around saying, “Look at my fascia! I’ve got some AWESEOME gains in my fascia!” No, we don’t do that. So, let me explain. Fascia (fae-sha) comes from the Latin word “band”. In this case, we’re talking about the connective tissue of your body. This tissue is beneath your skin and it connects muscles and other internal organs of your body.

Fascia/Muscle Connections

According to https://www.fleetfeet.com/s/hartford/sports-medicine/benefits-of-foam-rolling fascia is something that is growing every day. If you are not moving properly or maintain good muscle movement, your fascia will NOT grow correctly. So, from there, aches and pains start to occur….and we all know that’s not a good thing, EVER. Isn’t amazing to know you actually have an ACTIVE role in maintaining to health of your fascia!

Foam rolling will …

  1. Actually brake up scar tissue that has been built through improper lifting and movement!
  2. This leads to the natural healing of your body’s fascia.
  3. This creates stronger connections!

If you have the choice and you know you can improve those connections, don’t wait around…do it!!

Health Benefit #2 – You Can Actually Increase Blood Flow

Yes, you read that right. Foam rolling can actually increase blood flow. Don’t go to pills for better circulation…get a foam roller! If you start the habit of foam rolling, you will naturally loosen muscles through that process. I know through my time with my rumble roller, my muscles are super-loose and relaxed. By moving and applying pressure to the different muscles of your body, you are actually moving the blood around (it’s that crazy to think about!)

You’re not just rolling around on it….you are causing the ingredients that make up your body (blood and tissue) to be transported. When that happens, it allows the flow of blood and with the flow of blood…comes new blood.

Think about it like the vampire going to the store and eyeing that bottle of freshly-squeezed blood! I can see it now. This is essentially what you are providing for your body every time you roll across that foam roller.

Health Benefit #3 – Your Body Will Become More Flexible

According to the folks at http://web.mit.edu/tkd/stretch/stretching_3.html We can define flexibility as “the range of movement in a joint or series of joints”. This tells us that being flexible throughout your entire body is a myth, because every part of your body has to be maintained individually.Range of Movement

It’s almost like a car…well, sort of. With a car, each part of the engine has to function/work efficiently in order for the whole engine to run smoothly. Well, with your body, each muscle group (and specific group within that group) has to be spruced-up and taken care of in order to gives you flexibility.

Just like stretching or yoga, roam-rolling provides you with a huge advantage of lengthening those connections and thus making you more flexible. Flexible enough to take on the world, right? Well, yeah.

I’ve noticed, after a single session (10-20 mins) of targeted foam-rolling, I feel more flexible and more comfortable in my body. If you do it correctly and couple foam rolling with a routine of yoga and/or stretching, you will see results!

Health Benefit #4 – Foam Rolling will Help You Recover Quickly!

I know you’ve been there… I have. You commit to that workout and work your buns off, only to find that the next day you can barely get out of bed…let alone, do another workout! Imagine a tool that could take at least 30-50% of that post-workout pain away. Wow….what a miracle that would be?

Enter……the foam roller!

You’ve probably heard of the term “Myofascial Release“. If you’ve been interested in foam rolling, chances are you have.

To make this easy to understand, it’s basically what happens when you get a massage! In short, when you use that roller, you are giving your muscles that release of tension (which is especially prevalent after an intense workout). That is myofascial release.

In the words of the great fitness guru, Tony Horton of P90X fame, “Why would you have somebody else gives you that release, when you can do it yourself?” And Tony’s right…, “Why would you pay money for somebody to do this for you?”

Use your roller correctly and you can achieve that release yourself!

Hopping on over to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465761/ the US National Library of Medicine. I found out that through this study, when used post-workout, the foam roller decreased muscle pain perception by a whopping 6%! I know personally that 6% will actually feel like 30-50%! Wow…what a difference that could make!

Workout
Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Here’s a little extra for you. Not only could it be used to decrease pain, but when used as a pre-workout type of stretch it has been shown to increase sprint performance by .7% and strength performance by 3.9%! I haven’t personally done that, but it’s definitely intriguing and worth a try to see how it can immediately have an effect on your workout.

What can you do today to improve?

So, now that you have read about four excellent benefits of foam rolling, what can you do today to make a positive change and improvement to your body?

If you are fortunate enough to already have a foam roller in your possession, use it!

Here’s a quick beginner move with minimal chance of injury, check this out…

  • Grab your foam roller and lay your forearm across your roller.
  • Take your another arm and place your palms together while laying on your stomach.
  • Press down with your other arm and roll slowly back and forth on your roller.

The goal is to apply pressure on your forearm and feel that myofasical release. Focus on points of tension and press in to that.

If you don’t have a foam roller …have somebody who you’re comfortable with, press into your forearm (massage) those points of tension. If they are pressing firmly (not harshly) you will feel that release.

Now….go out and roll with it!

I hope this post has provided you with an excellent starting point with foam rolling! Now that you know some of the health benefits…put them to good use and ROLL!

Tennis Ball

Then you’ll be on a roll….get it? Okay, I’m done. 🙂

Please make sure to leave a comment below if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

Happy rolling,

Ryan