First For Women - - Health -

“Sci­atic pain is often re­lated to the wear and tear of ag­ing, which is why the risk goes up with time,” says Mara Vu­cich, D.O., a physi­cian at the Mary­land Spine Cen­ter at Mercy Hos­pi­tal in Bal­ti­more. Sciatica can feel like aching or tin­gling that starts in the lower back and ra­di­ates down the back of the legs. It’s often caused by de­gen­er­a­tive changes in the lum­bar spine, but can also be caused when the sci­atic nerve gets pinched by the pir­i­formis mus­cle, which con­nects the lower back and pelvis to the hips. And while stay­ing ac­tive is often rec­om­mended to ease back pain, Dr. Vu­cich says some forms of ex­er­cise can trig­ger sci­atic dis­com­fort if the mus­cles in the abs and glutes are weak.

The easy so­lu­tion: Pi­lates-based ex­er­cises. “These moves strengthen the core mus­cles, glutes, pelvis and lower back,” says Risë Stok­stad, a Pi­lates Mas­ter Prac­ti­tioner based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This loosens the pir­i­formis mus­cle, sta­bi­lizes the pelvis and hips and takes pres­sure off the lum­bar spine to pre­vent or elim­i­nate symp­toms. To get these ben­e­fits, fol­low Elisha Lowe’s lead and do these moves two or three times per week.

Bird dog

This move strength­ens the back and loosens the pir­i­formis mus­cle.

TO DO: Start on all fours. Con­tract your abs and squeeze your glutes as you lift and ex­tend your right arm and left leg un­til they’re par­al­lel to the floor. Hold for two sec­onds. Re­turn to start. Re­peat on the other side. Do five reps.

Hip lifts

This move stretches the pir­i­formis mus­cle and strength­ens the glutes to sta­bi­lize the pelvis.

TO DO: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart and arms by your sides. Slowly lift your hips off the floor un­til your body is in a straight line from knees to shoul­ders. Squeeze your glutes and abs and hold for two sec­onds. Slowly lower your hips to the floor. Do

10 reps.


This move ac­ti­vates the ab­dom­i­nals and mul­ti­fidus mus­cles around the spine to strengthen the core.

TO DO: Lie face­down on a mat with your legs straight and arms ex­tended. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously raise your arms, legs, and chest a few inches off the floor and hold for two sec­onds while squeez­ing your glutes and press­ing your pu­bic

bone to the floor. Slowly lower back to start­ing po­si­tion. Do 10 reps.

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