Summer is a time of increased activity and outdoor pursuits. Everyone is keen to get outside and enjoy the sun and be back in nature again. However, for those who suffer from sciatica, it can also be a time of increased pain and discomfort.
Sciatica is a condition that affects the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down through the buttocks and into the legs. The condition is characterized by pain, numbness, and weakness in the affected areas. While sciatica can flare up at any time of year, the summer months can be particularly challenging for those with the condition.
Here’s why sciatica is likely to flare up in the summer and what you can do to reduce the chances of it happening.
One of the main reasons sciatica is more likely to flare up in the summer is increased activity. During the warmer months, people tend to spend more time outdoors, engaging in activities like gardening, hiking, and team sports.
While these activities are great for physical and mental health, they can also be hard on the body, especially for those with sciatica. Activities that involve bending, twisting, and lifting can put additional strain on the lower back and aggravate the sciatic nerve.
To reduce the risk of a flare-up, it’s important to be mindful of your body and take breaks when you need to. Stretching before and after physical activity may also help to loosen up tight muscles and reduce the risk of injury. If you are on vacation, you can take a gentle swim in the sea or hotel pool which might help loosen up the muscles and joints.
Dehydration is another factor that can contribute to sciatica flare-ups in the summer. When the body is dehydrated, it can lead to muscle cramps and spasms, which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Additionally, dehydration can cause the discs in the spine to lose their cushioning, which can exacerbate the pain of sciatica. To prevent dehydration, it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when engaging in physical activity. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol, which can dehydrate the body further.
Hot weather can also be a trigger for sciatica. When the body gets too hot, it can cause the blood vessels to dilate, which can increase inflammation and pain in the affected areas. Additionally, hot weather can cause the muscles in the body to become tense and tight, which can put additional strain on the sciatic nerve. To minimize a flare-up, it’s important to stay cool and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and stay in the shade when possible. If you do need to be out in the sun, you should wear sunscreen and a hat to protect your skin.
Finally, poor posture can also contribute to sciatica flare-ups in the summer. When the body is in a seated position for prolonged periods of time, it can cause the muscles in the back to become tense and tight, which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. This is especially true if you’re sitting in a position that puts additional strain on the lower back, such as in a car or on a plane, which is bound to happen if you’re doing a road trip, heading to a camping destination a few hours away or flying internationally to visit family in Europe this summer.
To reduce the chance of a flare-up, it’s important to maintain good posture throughout the day. When sitting, ensure your feet are flat on the ground and your back is straight. Take breaks to stand up and stretch every 20-30 minutes. And if on a long car ride, make sure to make frequent stops to walk about and have a stretch. The same for international flights, it’s always good after a couple of hours to get up and walk down the aisle or stretch out a little at the mid-sections of the plane.
So anyone who suffers from sciatica knows it can be a painful and debilitating condition, but with proper care and attention, it’s possible to prevent flare-ups, even in the summer. By being mindful of your body and taking steps to stay hydrated, cool, and maintain good posture, you can enjoy all the activities that summer has to offer without the added pain and discomfort of sciatica.
If you do experience a flare-up, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider. At Cianci Chiropractic Center. We are very familiar with sciatica problems and would be happy to explore potential prevention and pain relief solutions with you. Book an appointment before your summer holiday here.