If you learn to walk in a new way and develop better posture habits you can move towards freeing your body from issues with the sciatic nerve and the two main problems associated with sciatic nerve pain: sciatica and piriformis syndrome.
At the base of the spinal cord just below the bottom of the ribcage the nerves exit the spinal cord and flow freely, in what’s known as the cauda equina, or the horse’s tail. Without the protection of the spinal cord these nerve bundles are more prone to injury from assorted spinal dysfunctions (herniated disc, stenosis…).
Five of these nerve bundles will make their way down towards the leg where they will form into two nerves, the peroneal & tibial. The two nerves meet and form the sciatic nerve directly behind the piriformis muscle, one of only two muscles connecting the legs to the spine.
The spot where it comes together behind the piriformis is about as thick as your index finger, making it one of the thickest nerve segments in the body. The tibial and peroneal nerves will split again at the knee and travel separately down to the foot. An unfortunate 15% of the population has a peroneal nerve that doesn’t gather together with the tibial to form the sciatic nerve. For these folks, the peroneal nerve passes directly through the piriformis which could lead to very painful consequences.
So why learn to walk to heal sciatic pain? The nature of sciatic pain is determined by the nerves ability to flow freely to innervate the legs. A misaligned pelvis affects the sciatic nerve in many ways. We believe everyone tucks their pelvis under, thereby flattening the lower back and shortening the piriformis muscles. Both of these results can lead to sciatic pain whether it manifests and sciatica or as piriformis syndrome.
To learn to walk correctly means to use your pelvis the way it was designed when both walking and standing. If your pelvis lives in the correct un-tucked position, the piriformis muscle should lengthen and make room for the sciatic nerve to pass behind it.
Many factors can lead to a degeneration of the spine– natural aging, illnesses and injuries— but maintaining the proper position of the pelvis and thereby the lumbar spine(lower back) goes a long way to creating the best environment for the flow of the body’s longest nerve. Learn to walk correctly and then maintain good posture and you will see relief from many of your body chronic aches and pains including sciatica and piriformis syndrome.