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Sciatica or sciatic Nerve pain can be the most distressing of conditions to suffer with. With its various potential causes as well, knowing the correct treatment can also be a great dilemma.

One potential cause of sciatica is tight muscles, and in particular tight Piriformis or Hamstring muscles.

These muscles are a potential source of sciatic pain due to their position relative to the sciatic nerve as it passes through the buttock & down the leg.

The sciatic nerve itself is formed from 5 nerve roots which leave the spine in the lower back region. As these nerve roots leave the spine, they come together to form the sciatic nerve.

This nerve then passes through the buttock region, which is where the Piriformis muscle is situated. Consequently, as the sciatic nerve passes through the buttock area, it also passes straight through, or underneath (it varies from person to person) the Piriformis muscle.

As the sciatic nerve then continues on its journey down the back of the leg, it also encounters the hamstring muscles, which are situated at the back of the thigh. Once again, the sciatic nerve passes through the hamstrings on its way.

Therefore, if either of these muscles are tight, they place increased stress across the sciatic nerve. This can be quite literally due to a squeezing effect on the nerve, or also due to the tightness not allowing the sciatic nerve to move as freely as it should be able to. Either way, the tightness places increased stress across the nerve, potentially resulting in pain.

In order for the body to be able to heal the sciatic nerve from the increased stress and the subsequent pain which has resulted, a suitable exercise programme needs to be embarked upon.

It is easier to show these exercises with the use of diagrams, therefore I have placed a link at the bottom of this article which will show you the best way to stretch these muscles.

Tightness in muscles can also be associated with weakness of other muscle groups. This is referred to as ‘Muscle Imbalance’ and is one of the main causes of sciatica.

Especially if you feel that your sciatica is beginning in your buttock region, as opposed to your lower back, there is a fair chance it is muscle imbalance which is the cause of your pain.

Following on from this, if your Nerve pain begins in the buttock area, there is a good chance it is specifically a tight Piriformis muscle which is responsible for the sciatica you are suffering. If this is the case, introducing a Piriformis stretch should assist with resolving your pain.

In summary, tight muscles can, without doubt, be a cause of sciatica. In such circumstances, an appropriate stretching exercise programme will clearly be needed. This in turn will reduce the stress being placed across the sciatic nerve and therefore assist the body in healing yourself from the pain you are suffering.

Theresa Lee

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