My journey with sciatic pain
Around two months ago, I did some stretching in the gym after a workout. I was doing a wide-legged seated forward fold and then turned my upper body towards my left side. As I folded towards my left leg, I suddenly felt a pull in my left thigh. I didn’t think much of it, I thought it will just go away after a little bit. I continued my usual workout routine in the following days and doing yoga on a daily basis. I hoped the discomfort would just go away on its own after a while.
A few weeks later, it only got worse. My left thigh became very stiff. I didn’t only feel it when I was exercising or stretching, but also when I was just sitting or lying down. Sometimes my leg felt numb, and other times there was a tingly feeling. I experienced tension starting from my left hip going downwards towards my left knee. I started to pay more attention towards which muscles are affected by this feeling and realized that my muscles towards my buttocks are in most discomfort. After further examination by specialists and myself, I found out that my piriformis muscle was irritated and caused the sciatic pain I was experiencing.
Piriformis syndrome and the sciatic nerve
Deep in our buttock behind our glute is the position of our piriformis muscle. A small muscle that connects our lower spine and upper leg, responsible for the rotation of the hip. A tight piriformis can cause sciatic pain which results in a shooting pain from your lower spine down the hip along the leg towards the knee and sometimes even until the foot.
The sciatic nerve is situated next to the piriformis which is the reason why sciatic pain can occur. It runs from our lower spine on each side down towards our feet along the back of our leg. It is responsible for the reflexes of our legs and supplies strength towards them.
What is Sciatica?
As already mentioned, from our lower spine down towards both of our feet, passing through the back of our legs, is the route of our sciatic nerve. This nerve can feel compressed due to a problem around the lower back. For example, Sciatica can occur due to a bulging disk in the lower spine that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. The pain you might experience is similar to my pain, which is numbness in the leg and tingling all the way from the lower spine towards the knee or foot. Especially when sitting or standing still, you might feel this pain.
Yoga for sciatic pain
Poses that relieve sciatic pain can be hip openers, hamstring stretches or twists. Anything that releases tension around the affected areas and feels good to you, can be poses to help easing the pain.
Following poses I discovered to be helpful and relieving in my practice:
What helped me additionally to yoga
I practice the above mentioned poses every day and depending on how I experience the pain in the moment, I build a sequence around them with additional postures. What has helped me additionally to yoga was acupuncture and massages. Once a week I visit a trusted massage therapist where I either get a deep tissue massage on my affected leg or a stretch therapy. It helps me to relax my left side and my muscles in the leg feel long and stretched.
My favourite and most successful experience I had with my pain was with a Balinese healer. After trying yoga, massages, energy healing and a lot of other methods to ease the pain, I didn’t believe that there would be something else to help. My friend recommended me a healer here in Bali that uses a traditional acupuncture method to detect any pain and discomfort on the body. I went to see him at after half an hour using pressure points along my left leg and lower spine, my pain was gone! I was so happy and couldn’t believe it. Unfortunately, it slowly came back after a few days but not in the same extent I had it before. I continued to see him and after every session it feels better. He advised me as well to do some swimming to feel relieved, which I have started now as well. I have seen specialists for my pain as well to keep track of its source and for now I just take every day as it comes. Hoping that one day it will be completely healed!
Sometimes sciatic pain can go away after a few weeks and sometimes it may take longer. However, if you feel that your pain does not get any better I would advise to see a specialist. In some cases, sciatic pain can become worse and even requires surgery. Our body is our temple and we should nourish and honor it on a daily basis - if you think something is wrong and you need an expert to help, follow your intuition definitely!
PS: The healer I saw in Bali was Pak Heru at Akar Healing.