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How to End Sciatica in Weeks instead of It Taking Forever

A Completely Different Approach does Better than Common Therapies for Common Sciatica

by Lawrence Gold
certified Hanna somatic educator

Doctors and patients commonly regard sciatica as difficult to cure. When you take one of the approaches most commonly used: drugs, stretching (including an inversion table), manipulation, surgery, it does seem difficult to cure. Your final relief may take forever. None of the usual approaches gets at the underlying cause, so relief is partial, temporary, or may never occur to the point that you are free of sciatica and can move freely.

This article explains the underlying causes in understandable language and presents an alternative, effective approach -- one that can end sciatica in a few weeks -- but there is a catch: you have to do the work.


There are two ways you can approach sciatica: as a "consumer" of care and as a "do-it-yourselfer".

A "consumer" expects to pay someone for their expertise and have them "do it for them". "Expertise" includes the "expertise" of the pharmaceutical companies. The consumer turns to experts, or to their products, to "fix" him or her. The consumer doesn't want to have to understand; that's what s/he pays the expert for.

A "do-it-yourselfer" learns about the condition to the point of arriving at an understanding of its cause that makes sense -- and then does what it takes to get the required result.

With sciatica, you can't be a consumer and get the relief you seek. Sciatica doesn't work that way; it's not that kind of condition. It's not caused by something external, so that you can do or take an "external" approach and fix it. It's caused by something your body is doing to itself.

This article explains what your body is doing to itself (really, what you are involuntarily and unconsciously doing to yourself) to cause the pain and what you can do -- not to counteract it, but to cease doing it (it's not restricting movement or "neutral spine position", but something entirely different). When you do, the pain fades out and everything is all right, again.

If you are going to get free of sciatica any time soon, you're going to have to understand what's going on in you and be a do-it-yourselfer. Standard therapeutics won't do it.

If you doubt me, continue with the "consumer" way of operating until you see its failure. Then, you may come back here, learn what you need to learn, and become the do-it-yourselfer you need to be to end your sciatica.

The Three Biggest Mistakes Made
by People
Trying to Get Out of Pain

Listen to Someone Getting
Clinical Somatic Education
and See Before and After Photos
of Many Clients.


Medical professionals and people with sciatica regard it as difficult to clear up (i.e., it takes forever). That's because standard medicine lacks a way to correct the cause.

The cause? tight muscles either in the low back and waist on one side, or in the buttock (piriformis muscle).

Conventional therapy involves massage, abdominal strengthening exercises and/or TENS. None reach the cause.

Sometimes, they do "nerve ablation" (kill the nerve ending), which produces temporary relief, or inject cortisone, which does even less.

Another way that works at the brain level, Clinical Somatic Education, extinguishes sciatica over a space of weeks. It's more comfortable and more efficient than standard therapeutics.


  • The Root Causes of Sciatica

  • Four Types of Sciatica

  • Treatment of Sciatica: non-surgical, surgical, and somatic education

  • What You Can Do
  • Because some people think they have sciatica -- when actually, they have another condition that mimics sciatica -- I'm going to teach you to distinguish sciatica from other conditions.

    Typical sciatica starts at the buttock (usually one side, only) and may extend down the back of the leg as far as the foot. Sensations may include numbness, burning, or the feeling of a hot cable going down the buttock, under the "sit-bone", down or back of the leg. If, when rubbing these places, you feel like you can't affect the pain, it's nerve pain (sciatica). If rubbing brings relief, it's muscular pain, not sciatica.

    If you have pain going down the front of your leg, you may have a muscle spasm of the front thigh muscles; if pain down the side, it may be ilio-tibial (IT) band syndrome or a twisted sacrum (sacro-iliac joint dysfunction/SIJD); if skin numbness or burning down the front, it's likely a twisted sacrum.

    The Root Causes of Sciatica

    The two most common causes of sciatica are nerve compression caused by tight muscles in the back and waist (common sciatica) or buttock (piriformis syndrome). More, below.

    The muscles of the back are like the string of an archer's bow and the spinal column, like the bow, itself. As the tension of a bowstring causes the bow to bend, tension of the back muscles causes the low back to bow forward (swayback). Tension of the waist muscles at the side causes side tilt. The combination of swayback and side-tilt traps and puts pressure on the sciatic nerve where it exits the spinal column. Result: sciatica.

    Muscle tension of this sort persists despite efforts at relaxation or muscle manipulation. Brain-conditioning (muscle/movement memory) keeps muscles tight. Because brain-conditioning overrides efforts at relaxation or manipulation, sciatica persists or returns shortly after massaging or manipulation. For that reason, sciatica tends to persist despite therapeutic efforts and people find it difficult to correct. It's a matter of approach and the standard approaches seem to take forever.

    Another approach brings rapid and durable relief: change the brain-level conditioning; change muscle/movement memory. This approach works faster and more effectively than approaches that use manipulation or common relaxation techniques. It's also comfortable to go through.

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    Personal Attention Mentoring

    The brain-level conditioning (muscle/movement memory) that causes sciatica typically forms from an injury to a leg or foot, or a hard fall). The pain of injury causes a cringe response that affects the back, waist muscles, and/or buttock. A side-tilt forms (see photos, below, showing "before" and "after".)

    To end sciatica involves ending that cringe response. The techniques of clinical somatic education do that, quickly and efficiently. No manipulation is involved; it's done entirely by learning to control and relax the muscles and movements that cause sciatica. Symptoms disappear as that control improves -- again, fairly quickly.


    There are two most-common causes of sciatica, both involving muscular entrapment, one less-common cause involving disc damage (herniation or bulge, rupture or tear), and a still-rarer cause that involves narrowing of the spinal canal or exit holes (foramena) in the vertebrae, for nerves -- four types, all told.

    The reason I'm telling you about all four types is that if you have a ruptured or herniated disc, you should not do the approach shown, here.

    See the path of the sciatic nerve in the illustration.

    The sciatic nerve has roots that exit the spinal cord at, L3 - L5, the lowest three vertebra of the lumbar spine (low back). The nerves pass in front of the sacrum (central bone of the pelvis) and then out, through the buttocks and down the backs of the legs to the feet.


    Common Sciatica

    Common sciatica results from a combination of excessive swayback (lordosis) and side-tilt (scoliosis) -- both muscularly induced conditions maintained by muscle/movement memory.

    The combination of swayback and side-tilt reduces the space through which the nerve roots pass and squeezes them ("nerve impingement" or "pinched nerve"), which causes sciatica.

    Piriformis Syndrome

    Piriformis syndrome is much rarer than common sciatica. A medical writer at mednet.com writes of piriformis syndrome as follows:

    ... irritation of the sciatic nerve caused by compression of the nerve within the buttock by the piriformis muscle. Typically, the pain of the piriformis syndrome is increased by contraction of the piriformis muscle, prolonged sitting, or direct pressure applied to the muscle. Buttock pain is common."

    Piriformis syndrome comes from contraction of the piriformis muscle of the buttock (usually one side, only), through which the sciatic nerve passes in some people, and around which it passes, in others. Mere passage through the muscle is not enough to cause symptoms, but if the piriformis muscle is too tight for too long, sciatica results.

    Although both common sciatica and piriformis syndrome may take a while to develop, they appear suddenly and they both disappear very quickly, once the muscular cause ends.

    for Common Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome Sciatica

    Because the method described, here, clinical somatic education, works quickly, surgical intervention is properly a last resort after trying clinical somatic education. You may get an MRI scan to rule out disc rupture or herniation before starting.

    Explaining Disc Rupture and Herniation

    In sciatica from spinal disc rupture, extruded disc material (nucleus pulposus) presses on the sciatic nerve root(s). Vertebrae that have collapsed due to lack of disc integrity may also trap the sciatic nerve. Diagnosis calls for an MRI scan.

    Ruptured discs, and their precursor, herniated disc(s), are delicate conditions that require special care. Refrain from somatic education exercises because, as gentle as the exercises are, you may not be able to work gently enough and may endanger your discs. You should do somatic education exercises if you have a herniated disc only under the in-person guidance of a certified clinical somatic educator. You should not do somatic education exercises, at all, if you have a ruptured disc because it would be wasted effort; get any needed surgery, beforehand and get somatic education to prevent other discs from herniating or rupturing.

    Even more rare than disc herniation or rupture is a condition in which the holes (foramena) through which the nerve roots exit the spinal column, and/or the spinal canal, narrow because of bone growth (stenosis).

    Generally, these last two forms of sciatica are surgical situations, although some therapists are said to be able to use "MacKenzie Exercises" to cause the re-uptake of extruded disc material and so alleviate symptoms. Even if surgery is successful, one must still deal with muscular contractions that are virtually always the cause of sciatica developing.


    Conventional, non-surgical treatment of sciatica may consist of five approaches:

    1. heat or ice
    2. medication (epidural injections)
    3. laser treatment
    4. manipulation (chiropractic, massage)
    5. strengthening and stretching

    Of these approaches, the first three do nothing to address the cause of sciatica (described, above). The fourth approach, manipulation, has the right idea -- free the tight muscles -- but can't work. Manipulation doesn't change muscular conditioning, so muscles re-tighten and sciatica symptoms reappear or never disappear.

    The fifth approach, strengthening, completely misses the mark. Sciatica comes from muscles that are too tight, so strengthening takes things precisely the wrong direction: muscles go into stronger contraction.

    Dear Lawrence,

    I found you on the Internet while researching more on [Thomas} Hanna's book, Somatics. Profound thanks to you for the two exercises that you have posted for Sciatica. My husband has responded to them with amazing results and our thanks know no bounds.

    John and Barbara Baker
    McKinney, Texas

      Thank you, Barbara, for writing.

      I encourage readers by reprinting letters such as yours (or excerpts) on the website. May I have your permission?

      Lawrence Gold

    Hello, Lawrence

    Yes, you may use the wording that makes the most sense to you and readers.


    Barbara Baker
    Posture Coach

    The key to health is motion!

    Stretching should never be done because trapped nerves lack their full elasticity and are vulnerable to damage from stretching.

    Surgical Approaches

    1. microdisectomy
    2. lumbar laminectomy


    Microdiscectomy means cutting or shaving away part of a disc that is pressing/impinging upon the sciatic nerve.

    While microdiscectomy may seem "mechanically logical", it has two major faults:

    • A disc that is bulging or herniated (more severe form of a bulge) is already in a weakened condition. To cut away part of it makes it more vulnerable to complete rupture. Then, surgery is needed to remove the extruded disc material (nucleus pulposus) that presses upon the nerve root.
    • It does nothing whatsoever about the root cause of the pressure on the disc(s) that makes them bulge, chronic muscular contraction, so recurrence of sciatica is likely.

    Lumbar Laminectomy

    Lumbar laminectomy involves removal of the part of vertebrae that can be seen on the back and felt by touching.

    Not only does laminectomy fail to address the underlying cause of sciatica; it also triggers muscles in the region to tighten further in reaction to the trauma of the surgery -- and their being too tight was the problem to begin with. If any benefit results, it comes not from the surgery but from the therapy that follows.

    The poor results of such approaches to stopping sciatica speak for themselves. How do I know? I've had clients come to me for help with sciatica who have had a laminectomy. Yes, somatics worked, for them.

    safe, quick improvement, lasting, no "recovery time"

    Where tight muscles put pressure on the sciatic nerve, the direct remedy is to free those muscles. "Free" means, "slacken" -- which maintaining full function.

    Since brain-conditioning is behind most sciatica, the direct approach is to recondition control of the involved muscles. Somatic education uses a brain-level response related to yawning that can be used to free muscles anywhere in the body. The video, Pandiculation, explains.

    As muscles relax, (1) swayback decreases, and (2) side-tilt straightens, and pressure comes off the sciatic nerve. Pain fades, nearly immediately. Pain can be completely extinguished, this way, and full function restored.

    [AUTHOR'S NOTE: My mother had piriformis syndrome in 1989. I directed her to the developer of this approach, Thomas Hanna, Ph.D., who practiced within driving distance. This was before he trained me. She came back, that afternoon, without the sciatica and with the words, "You've got to learn this work!"]

    Relief of either of these forms of sciatica occurs within moments of the relaxation and, for all intents and purposes, is permanent, since muscle/movement memory has normalized.

    For any therapeutic approach to be effective with sciatica, it must normalize muscle/movement memory, which the underlying cause of sciatica.

    Clinical Somatic Education leaves you with no movement restrictions or need to maintain a neutral spine position; you may comfortably and safely move in any direction and, if your discs are sound, do any activity, whatsoever, safely.

    Click Somatic Education Exercises for Neuromuscular Stress and Pain, to learn more about a program that delivers the results described, here.

    Hanna Somatic Education®: It's Work -- but It Works.
    faster and more easily than common therapy


    I have been practicing as a clinical somatic educator (Hanna somatic education) for the final relief of pain since 1990, with two years' experience on-staff at the Wellness and Rehabilitation Center of a hospital in Northern California. Since 1996, I have had a money-back guarantee of satisfaction that has rarely been invoked. Learn about my professional background, including published papers, radio and TV appearances, and public speaking appearances, here.

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    as adapted to Comforting Your S-I Joints

    Somatic Education Exercises for Neuromuscular Stress and Pain

    Lessons 1 - 4 specifically effective for sciatica | 1 - 4 weeks
    You should do the entire program exactly as given.

    Click here to have me work with you, in person.
    You do the work. I mostly guide and assist.

    This is lasting relief the easier way.


    The Institute for Somatic Study and Development
    S.E. 64th Avenue, Milwaukie, OR 97222

    Lawrence Gold, certified Hanna somatic educator
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