Can Kegels Relieve Pregnancy Sciatica?

by Cat Bowen

If you've ever felt a lightning bolt shoot down one side of your rump and down the back of your leg, chances are, you've had sciatica. It's one of the nastier and more painful possible side effects of pregnancy, and not easily treated. But there's a rumor floating around that you can DIY your own treatment in the form of Kegels. But can Kegels relieve pregnancy sciatica?

I had horrible pregnancy-related sciatica with my daughter. Every time I went to stand, it was as though I was suddenly Forest Gump talking to Nixon, telling him how something "jumped up and bit me in the buttocks." I'm not exaggerating. It was a crippling pain that cut through my sleep, my exercise, and my ability to not lose my crap. Much, much crap was lost.

Sciatica is pain caused by nerve root compression, according to the Clinical Spinal Surgery Journal. When you're pregnant, that lovely belly of yours is sometimes doing more than growing your child; it can also be pressing on your spinal column, causing pain to radiate bilaterally down your backside and leg. When I was pregnant and dealing with this, I tried every trick my OB-GYN taught me, and for me, that included going to see a chiropractor and physical therapist. I was in a state of desperation.

However, Kegels were never brought up. Can Kegels relieve pregnancy sciatica? Well, according to Kaiser Permanente, Kegels serve to improve the whole of your pelvic floor. By strengthening these muscles, your body is more toned and firm, allowing for less give between the pelvic area and lower back. Turns out, Kegel exercises certainly are not a cure-all or designed specifically for relief, but more of a preventative measure. (Someone should've told you that a few months ago, huh?)

Once you've developed sciatica, it seems as though you'll be relying more on standard exercises like a sitting spinal stretch or pigeon pose, according to Dr. Mark Kovacs and Healthline. I can tell you from personal experience that these exercises help to a point, but nothing is perfect. For what it's worth, I did Kegels every single day of my pregnancy, and never noticed any improvement. You better believe that if I had, my vagina would be the strongest in 10 cities. (I mean, it may still be the strongest in 10 cities, I've never entered a contest or anything.)

If you're really suffering with the pain as I did, please talk to your provider. They may be able to help more than you know, and they should make sure that it is sciatica you're dealing with and not something else. Although, if you want to go against me in a vagina weight-lifting competition, that's something else entirely.