How to Deal with Sciatica
I have always been such a healthy person. I’ve never had any real injuries or surgeries (besides an appendectomy and a C-Section when I delivered my twins). I’m very active, so it came as a surprise when I started developing a tingling sensation in my left foot. I’d just started live-streaming classes for Peloton where I lead and physically do all of the yoga classes. I was walking across Central Park and all of a sudden my entire foot felt numb. From the heel to the outer pinky toe, all I could feel was numb!
Obviously, I was quite scared. I eventually went to a neurologist who ran a series of tests. He did an MRI of my lower back, but the discs looked normal with some natural wear and tear. There were a few other tests to rule out anything serious. It’s hard to diagnose sciatica and the symptoms can vary for everyone, but the most likely cause of my foot numbing and the little zing I sometimes feel to the left side of my sacrum is probably sciatica.
About The Sciatic Nerve
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body and runs from each side of the lower spine, through the pelvis, into the buttocks and down the length of the leg. Sciatica refers to any pain that radiates from the lower back or hips down the leg. When the sciatic nerve is constricted or irritated, it can cause pain, discomfort, and numbness all the way down to the foot and toes. Often people experience radiating pain down the back of their leg. I only seem to get it in my foot.
Sciatica can be caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome or injury. Personally, I tend to be very hypermobile and after having twins and doing as much yoga as I do, most likely I am irritating that nerve. It definitely has caused some sort of compression in the way I practice or certain bad movement and posture patterns I’ve developed.
How I Manage Sciatic Pain & Symptoms
I’ve been diligently strengthening my gluteus muscles and hamstrings to provide more support and strength in my posterior chain. Honestly, I have noticed quite a huge difference. My physical therapist also does something called BFR (blood flow restriction) training with me and it’s made a huge difference. I make sure to keep stretching, but not overstretching. I also rely on my meditation and relaxation techniques to manage the symptoms.
If you’ve ever had sciatica or are experiencing it now, you may want to check out a really great book I’ve found that’s also very helpful, “Exercises for Sciatica” by William Smith and Wazim Buksh. You may also want to check out these yoga poses from Yoga International that can be useful for easing sciatica.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!