Sciatica & The Alexander Technique

 I have experienced profound relief from sciatica through the Alexander Technique. When it flares, I now have a “toolkit” of approaches that I can use to sooth the exacerbation. I never thought I would be able to experience the state of “no pain” again. My continued work with Rachel is helping me re-coordinate my body so that I can avoid sciatic pain. 
-Lynn P., certified nurse and professor of nursing

Sciatica is a relatively common issue for many but that doesn't mean you have to just put up with it. I see and hear first hand from students and from other Alexander Teachers that the Technique can provide real and lasting relief from the pain and discomfort associated with Sciatica. The above testimonial is from a current Alexander student of mine who has experienced this type of relief through her lessons.

Sciatica is a term that describes a type of pain; it does not tell us the cause of the pain. All it tells us is that the sciatic nerve is being irritated somewhere along its path. The sciatic nerve travels down through the deep buttock musculature. One reason the Alexander Technique is so helpful in reducing sciatic nerve pain is that it teaches us to release these deep muscles, thereby reducing pressure on the nerve.

Learning to widen the lower back also reduces sciatic-type pain if the pain is coming from the little joints in the back of the spine. If the sciatic nerve is being irritated by pressure from a bulging spinal disc, widening the back may significantly reduce this pressure.

The late great Alexander Teacher Deborah Caplan who wrote the seminal book Back Trouble, recommends that students with painful sciatica rest periodically during the day in the following position: lying on the back on a firm surface with large pillows under the knees.

I also recommend that when sitting, to think of letting the chair further support you (you might discover that you were holding yourself away from the chair a bit) to invite less effort overall, especially in the low back and pelvic region.

(This post was adapted in part from an article by Deborah Caplan entitled The Alexander Technique and Its Application to Back Pain, in Direction Journal)