Sciatica pain stems from pressure on and/or irritation of the sciatic nerve. The nerve emanates from both sides of the lower spine, through the pelvic area and the buttocks, down the back of the thighs. The nerve splits at the knee forming branches extending to the feet. Pain can stretch all along this route and may be mild and achy or sharp and burning, often accompanied by pins-and-needles sensations.
Sciatica pain tends to worsen if you remain in one position for a long period of time, whether sitting or standing, which can concentrate pressure on your sciatic nerve and cause stressed muscles to tighten. Stretching can help relax muscles to relieve pain and act as a warm-up to strengthening exercises. Stretching and core strength exercises help to prevent future pain episodes, if done on a regular basis.
Stretches to relieve sciatica back pain
Remind yourself to breathe throughout your stretching exercises—it’s easy to forget and end up holding your breath. This can counteract the relaxing effect of your stretching exercises. Never do any exercise or movement that causes pain. Check with your back specialist to determine which exercises will work best in your specific case and to make sure you’re maintaining proper body position when stretching.
Piriformis stretches: This muscle runs through your buttocks.
-- Most of today’s exercises start in this position: Lie flat on your back with your head and neck supported. (Place a rolled towel under the curve of your neck.) Now bend your knees at a 45-degree angle so that your feet are flat on the floor. Lift the left leg slightly to place the left ankle on your right knee. Grab your left knee and pull it gently across your upper body toward the right shoulder until you feel a stretch in your hips/buttocks. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Return left foot to the floor. Relax. Repeat with the right leg this time. Repeat 2-4 times, alternating legs.
Hamstring stretches: This muscle runs through the back of your thigh.
-- While on your back with both knees bent, straighten one leg and relax it on the floor. The other knee is bent to 45-degrees with foot flat on the floor. Place both hands behind the thigh of bent leg, near the knee. (Use a towel if needed to increase your reach.) Now slowly straighten the knee while flexing the foot, trying to get the sole of the foot to face the ceiling. Stop and hold when you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh. (The leg that’s still straight out on the floor should stay relaxed, not rigid.) Hold for 10 seconds and work up gradually to 20-30 seconds. Repeat 3 times per leg.
Back muscle stretches:
-- While on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor, pull one leg slowly toward your chest. (To do this, grasp the leg with both hands, in front of and just below the knee.) Hold for 20 seconds. Relax. Repeat 5 times per leg.
-- Stand with feet slightly apart and palms on the top of your buttocks near the back of your waist area, with fingers pointing downward. Push the hips/pelvis forward slightly, slowly bending backward. At the the same time, slowly bend your neck backward to look at the ceiling. Hold 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat 5-10 times.
When dealing with sciatica or any type of back pain, see a back specialist for diagnosis, guidance and treatment. For a back specialist contact the Illinois Back Institute for a free evaluation today! We offer natural, non-invasive back pain treatments including proven-effective Functional Disc RehydrationTM treatment. Contact us today.