Stretches and exercises can help relieve sciatic pain from degenerative disc disease. Correct technique and form are important to prevent additional back strain. See a progressive approach to these sciatica exercises, starting with the simple forms and moving to advanced techniques as the patient becomes more experienced and comfortable with the exercises.
Video presented by Ron Miller, PT
This video accompanies the article: Exercise for Sciatica from Degenerative Disc Disease.
Sciatica Exercises for Degenerative Disc Disease
We want to show you some of these exercises and how they’re done because, looking at them on paper sometimes makes it difficult on understanding how to perform them yourself. So if you see someone doing them, you can actually follow along. We’re going to start with degenerative disc disease and demonstrate those exercises now.
How to Perform a Pelvic Tilt
The first thing that’s quite important to learn is a proper way to perform a pelvic tilt. Tilting the pelvis is very important because you need to be able to move the pelvis separate from the spine. So, the easiest way to do this is lying on your back with your knees bent up and think about pulling your bellybutton down towards your spine. Don’t think so much about flattening the back against the floor, but more try to pull the bellybutton towards the spine and your back will automatically flatten towards the floor. So as you pull your bellybutton in, your pelvis will actually roll up towards your chest. This is a position you should hold while you are performing many of these exercises.
Hook Lying March Exercise
Again, begin by performing a pelvic tilt and now slowly raise one leg at a time, only an inch or two, and back down, back and forth. The goal here is to do this without rolling your pelvis side to side and if you lock your pelvis in position, it should stay fairly strait. You should be able to speak while doing these exercises so you are not overworking yourself. Once this exercise is done correctly, you can add a combination. Again, lock your pelvis into position and as you raise your left leg, drop your right arm down over your head. And then alternate back and forth. Here what you don’t want to do is let your pelvis tilt back up and arch your back, so your back should stay relatively still while performing these exercises.
Now for the bridging exercise, start in the same position – pelvis in position – and just think about raising your hips up in the air. As you do this, you should stay fairly straight through your trunk. The common mistake here is rolling your pelvis up first and coming up to the shoulders and then rolling back down. If done correctly, everything should leave the floor together and come back to the floor together. Notice at the top I am not arching up in the air. Try to remain as straight as possible.
Leg Raise Exercises
Then we are going to use the same pelvic position and roll onto our stomach and perform several exercises there. Now on your stomach, you are still going to pull your belly up towards your spine and lock that pelvis into position. And now you are going to hold that position and raise one leg up off the floor. Again, we don’t need to go real high. And alternate back and forth. Try to avoid arching the back. To advance this exercise, you can again add the arms for the combination. Now when we add the arms, again lock the pelvis into position. Raise one leg and the opposite arm without arching the back. Notice the arm and leg are only raising approximately one to two inches off the floor.