There’s not much worse than living with hip pain and sciatica. The aching, throbbing, shooting pain can make things you used to take for granted like walking across the room, bending down to tie your shoes or simply standing up seem out of reach. And that’s before you even get into issues with your hip or sacroiliac joint feeling like they’re going to give way and drop you in your tracks due to the pain.
It’s no wonder then that so many people suffering from these conditions turn to surgery, desperate to find relief and get their lives back on track. However, considering the risks that come with surgery, asking your doctor about starting with a safe, natural option to ease the pain and speed recovery is often the way to go.
And one option that could spell relief for you is inversion therapy.
That’s why in this article, we’re going to explore the most common causes of the hip pain and sciatica you may be experiencing right now, as well as how using an inversion table could help you feel and move better. We’ll even give you a quick pointer video for exercises you can use at home to release the muscles that are making your pain worse.
Hip pain, sciatica or both: what’s your poison?
While many people think of hip pain and sciatica as one and the same, the truth is they can be completely different conditions, or one may lead to the other.
The reason the two conditions are often intertwined is the fact that the sciatic nerve (the root of sciatica pain) runs from the lower leg, through the gluteus muscles and down the back of the leg. On its course, the nerve passes through muscles that connect to the hip joint itself.
This means that if you injury a hip muscle or it becomes overworked and tight, it can lead to compression of the sciatic nerve and therefore sciatica. When sciatica starts, you’ll experience shooting pain that can run from your lower back down the back of your legs and even wrap to your hip.
In other words, hip problems can lead to sciatica and sciatica can lead to hip pain.
However, they’re not always connected since sciatica may also be caused by a herniated disc that compresses the nerve, with pain in other places besides the hip, like the buttocks, thighs, back of knees and calves.
And hip pain can be due to an injury or muscle strain that doesn’t result in sciatica.
If sciatica and hip pain do go together, the pinched nerve may not even be in the hip. Instead, it might be due to a compression in your low back that refers (or sends) the pain down your leg and into your hip. This is often the case when a disc is herniated.
What causes hip pain and sciatica?
One of the most common causes of hip pain and sciatica is problems with flexibility. When you sit for long periods of time, the muscles in your low back and hips become strained trying to hold that single position. Because of this, they tense and spasm, which can result in pinching or compression of the sciatic nerve and lead to pain.
That’s why whether you’re looking to relieve hip pain and sciatica or prevent it from starting, staying flexible is a must. It’s important to not only participate in a regular workout routine, but also use gentle stretching movements to release tight hip, buttocks and back muscles to relieve pressure, keep the nerve from being compromises and alleviate the pain.
You’ll also want to incorporate a daily core workout to strengthen and tone the muscles of your trunk and hips to provide support for your spine to help avoid disc problems that can start the sciatica spiral.
Additionally, regular repetitive movements, such as running, jogging, squatting and cycling can lead to hip and sciatica issues due to wear and tear of the pelvic muscles that cause inflammation and pain in the hip joint. This makes it vital to listen to your body during your workouts, use heat and ice for your lower back pain, sciatica and hip pain as necessary, and take breaks when you need to.
How can inversion help relieve hip and sciatica pain?
Inversion therapy offers a number of benefits for people living with hip or sciatica problems. First, by putting your body in an inverted angle, you’re using gravity to decompress your spine, including the discs and the spinal nerves that join to form the larger sciatic nerve.
Using an inversion table also helps to stretch and lengthen tight muscles and increase flexibility. Finally, if you choose an inversion table like the Backlounge with built-in lumbar foam rollers, you can also benefit from myofascial release of your hip and lumbar muscles to diminish painful trigger points that lock the muscles down around your nerves.
Home exercises for hip pain and sciatica
In addition to inversion therapy, here are a few simple exercises you can do at home to help alleviate your pain:
Lie on your back flat on the floor with your legs extended. Grab the knee of the affected side with the opposite hand and gently pull the leg toward your chest. Slowly bring your knee across your body until you feel a stretch and hold for 30 seconds before returning to the original position. Repeat three times.
While still lying on your back with your legs extended, bend the knee of the affected side and place your foot flat on the floor. Pull the knee of the raised leg across the midline of your body using your other hand or a towel. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Lie on your back, bending the knee of the side without pain and putting your foot flat on the floor. Next place the ankle of the affected side on your bent knee. Use both hand to pull the lower knee toward your chest and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
For even more stretches you can use to ease the pain of hip or sciatica problems, check out the video below: