Many people who suffer from chronic low back pain experience lower back pain that radiates down the leg after performing a high stress exercise like running or weight lifting. If you are one of those people then you know how painful it can be when an entire part of your leg, shin, or foot goes numb. What causes this sudden numbness in the leg, and how is it connected to your lower back?
Why Do Body Parts “Fall Asleep”?
If you’ve ever slept in a strange position and had a body part “fall asleep” you know how uncomfortable it can be for the few minutes that feeling is returning to that body part You might suspect since you had been cutting off the blood supply so circulation returning to the body part was the cause of the pins and needles sensation that you feel. It’s actually due to the nerves that run through your body being compressed.
Your nerves are like little electric wires that run through your entire body and are connected to your spine and send signals up to your brain. When a section of those wires is compressed for an extended period of time, they will lose connection temporarily. When you move positions and allow the nerves to return to normal, as they start receiving signals from your brain you might feel strange, and possibly uncomfortable, tingling sensations as that part of your body and the brain start talking again.
What Nerve Causes Lower Back Pain that Radiates Down the Leg?
The nerve that connects your lower back to your legs is called the sciatic nerve. At the very base of your lower back on each side this bundle of nerves runs down your lower spine and into the rest of your leg and foot. When this nerve, just like any other nerve in your body, is compressed, you will lose sensation in whatever part of the body that nerve controls.
The sciatic nerve, unfortunately for those of us with chronic low back pain, is a bundle of nerves that controls the connections to every part of your leg. If this nerve is compressed, even slightly, you might loose sensation in your toes, shin, calf, and upper thigh. Depending on how badly the nerve is compressed determines how severe the the sciatica in your lower back, the cause of the pain radiating down your leg, has become.
When a disc in your lower lumbar vertebrae weakens and breaks it can put pressure on your sciatic nerve, causing pain and numbness in your lower back and legs – especially after a high stress exercise that has been putting excess pressure on the sciatic nerve and lower lumbar vertebrae. If left untreated, sciatica can lead to other chronic conditions like degenerative disc disease or degeneration of the spine itself.
Can Sciatica Be Treated?
When I first experienced my shin going numb after going for a 30 minute run I had no idea what was going on. I knew that after I ran my lower back irritated me even more but didn’t know that I had a vertebrae disc that had started to break and allow compression of the sciatic nerve. Once I figured out what was going on I knew that if I continued to try to exercise by running and lifting weights then I was only going to make the damage worse.
That was when I decided I would give yoga a try since I had heard so many people say that it is great for relieving lower back pain.
I first experienced yoga while doing the P90X workout DVDs. After every other workout I would be in more pain afterwards than I was before, but after the yoga day my body felt better than ever before. Which was strange because yoga was a workout that I never looked forward to doing because of how difficult it was but I was always glad that I had done it after it was over.
But my lower back pain wasn’t getting any better and I knew that something had to be done so I joined a yoga studio and started taking classes a few times a week. There were many times that I was in a lot of pain and it didn’t seem like it would get any better but eventually, after regularly practicing for over a year, the pain started to lessen and my body started to feel healthier than ever before.
If you have chronic lower back pain that radiates down one of your legs, normally either just your right or left leg and not both, it might be possible that you suffer from sciatica caused by issues in your lower lumbar vertebrae. In order to correct your spinal issues you need to build strength in the muscles that support your lower spine and bring alignment back to your vertebrae so the damage can start to be healed.
Yoga helps bring alignment back to your spine by building strength, balance, flexibility, and heat in your body. Overtime the kinks in your joints will be worked out and your muscles will become stronger and more flexible allowing you to stretch deeper into your body. Years of scar tissue will be broken down and replaced and eventually, as long as you stick with it, your body will start to heal itself.
What can you start doing today to relieve your lower back pain?
Stick With It!