Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles located in the pelvic region that support your pelvic organs and help control bladder and bowel function. It is a complex and crucial area of the body that is often overlooked when it comes to overall health and wellness. But when you’re dealing with sciatic pain, you’re often willing to look anywhere for an answer — and if you’ve ended up here, you’re on the right path! The truth is, the health and functioning of your pelvic floor can greatly affect other parts of the body, including the sciatic nerve. Now let’s explore the connection between the pelvic floor and sciatica and how maintaining a healthy pelvic floor can help alleviate your sciatic pain.
The connection between sciatica and the pelvic floor
Sciatica is a condition characterized by pain that radiates from the lower back and down the legs. It is caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body and runs from the lower back down the legs. Sciatica can be caused by a variety of factors, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease. While sciatica is typically treated with pain medications, physical therapy, and even surgery, research has shown that the health of your pelvic floor can also play a role in sciatic pain.
Your pelvic floor muscles can become weakened or damaged due to various factors, like pregnancy, childbirth, age, and certain medical conditions. A weak pelvic floor can lead to pelvic organ prolapse (POP), which is a condition where the pelvic organs drop down and put pressure on the sciatic nerve. This pressure can cause sciatic pain, as well as other symptoms such as urinary incontinence and constipation.
In addition to pelvic organ prolapse, the pelvic floor muscles can also contribute to sciatic pain through their impact on the spine and lower back. The pelvic floor muscles attach to the sacrum, which is the triangular bone at the base of the spine. When the pelvic floor muscles are weak, they can cause an imbalance in the sacral and lumbar spine, leading to back pain and sciatica. In contrast, when the pelvic floor muscles are strong and functioning properly, they can provide support and stability to the spine and lower back, reducing the risk of sciatic pain.
Exercises to help heal sciatica
Maintaining a healthy pelvic floor is essential for reducing the risk of sciatic pain. There are several exercises that can help you strengthen and mobilize your pelvic floor muscles as-needed, including pelvic tilts, and hip bridges.
Kegel exercises involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, which can help improve their strength and function. Pelvic tilts involve tilting the pelvis forward and backward, which helps to stretch and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Hip bridges involve lying on your back with your knees bent and lifting your hips off the floor, which helps to activate the pelvic floor muscles.
It is super important to note that not all exercises are appropriate for everyone and it is best to consult with a physical therapist or healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program so that you do not cause further trouble with your pelvic or sciatic nerve health. A physical therapist (like me!) can help assess the health of your pelvic floor and develop a customized treatment plan to meet your specific needs.
In addition to exercises, lifestyle modifications can also help maintain a healthy pelvic floor. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding heavy lifting, and avoiding straining during bowel movements. People who are pregnant or have recently given birth should also seek medical advice before starting a new exercise program.
Why it’s important to take care of your pelvic floor now
Your pelvic floor is a critical area of the body that can greatly impact other parts of the body, including the sciatic nerve. A weak or damaged pelvic floor can contribute to sciatic pain and other symptoms. Maintaining a healthy pelvic floor through exercises and lifestyle modifications can help reduce the risk of sciatic pain and improve overall health and wellness. It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new exercise program and to address any pelvic floor concerns as soon as they arise. Taking care of the pelvic floor is an important step in reducing the risk of sciatica and maintaining overall health and wellness.
Ready to take care of your Sciatica? Let’s chat!
When Sciatica is a part of your life, it can be hard to make plans without knowing whether or not you’ll be in pain when you’re in your day-to-day life. With an experienced, qualified therapist (like me!) working alongside you throughout the treatment process, you can look forward to optimal outcomes for healing your pelvic-floor-related sciatica pain.
Want to work together? Book a virtual or in-person session (Minnesota) with me to receive a specialized, unique-to-you treatment plan to get the healing you need.
Looking for additional resources on pelvic health? My YouTube channel holds dozens of videos where I offer free pelvic floor training, yoga exercises, and more. My instagram page takes a little bit more of a light hearted approach while still providing educational content. And of course, if you have a specific pelvic floor subject you’re looking for more information on, a quick search of my blogs may give you the answers you need.
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