If you’re feeling comfortable enough for light activity, take a dip in the pool! Swimming with slow, languid movements in warm water can ease pain and nerve spasms while relaxing stiff muscles. Even just walking in water can help: The water takes weight off your spine and muscles, which alone will reduce pain.
Don’t Stay Sedentary
Rest is not the best medicine for sciatica! If your pain is truly debilitating, then resting first might be mandatory, but only for two days at most. Staying sedentary for too long can make your nerve pain worse. Exercising your leg and back will not only keep your muscles healthy, it’ll help nourish the spine and fend off further damage.
Ask your spouse or partner for a massage (and promise to return the favor when you’re better!). A rubdown will not only relax muscle spasms, it’ll also improve circulation and trigger the release of endorphins, those feel-good hormones known to alleviate pain and anxiety and aid the healing process.
Carry with Care
Give your spine a rest! When holding anything with substantial weight, from shopping bags to laptop cases to books, keep the items close to your chest rather than letting them hang lower. Carrying things close to your body reduces pressure on your spine and will help prevent sciatica attacks. Also follow proper lifting techniques: Bend your knees to reach downward, keeping your back straight (no bending at the waist!) and using the muscles in your legs and hips to lift.
While your sciatica is healing (it can take a while!), treat your back especially well to move the process along and cut down on pain. When sitting down, stick a small pillow between your lower back and the chair. This extra lumbar support can go a long way to improving your comfort and settling your sciatica.
Crunches for Core Strength
To prevent sciatica flare-ups in the future, try to strengthen your trunk muscles (or “core”) with exercise. Crunches or partial sit-ups can do the trick: Lying on your back, bend your knees up so your feet sit flat on the floor. With arms crossed over your chest or extended straight at your sides, tighten your stomach muscles to lift your shoulders and head a few inches from the ground. If your neck hurts, place your hands underneath it for support. Slowly release those muscles and let your upper torso gradually roll back to the floor. Don’t lift your body more than a few inches, or you’ll hurt your back.