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The Ultimate Back Pain Relief Tips Blog

Sciatica Stretches - The Piriformis Stretch

Posted by Dr. Jeff Winternheimer D.C. on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 @ 12:11 PM

Sciatica StretchesSciatica is the pain that radiates alongside the path of the sciatic nerve. This branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica stretches are one of the most important things you can do at home to help elimnate the pain associated with sciatica.

Sciatica commonly occurs when a herniated disc or a bone spur on the spine compresses part of the nerve. It's not always possible to prevent sciatica but there are certain things that can be done to help and to also make sure it does not reoccur. 

One of the most important treatments for sciatica is a simple as exercising regularly Exercising regularly, along with stretches for sciatica, will help strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. The stronger these muscles are the less the spine has to carry the weight of most of your body.  You may feel like bed rest is what your back needs but the inactivity will make your back pain worse. The lack of movement will cause your back muscles to weaken, which can lead to an injury or strain.

It’s important to consult with a doctor before doing exercises, and sciatica stretches. You need to know the proper training so that the exercises are effective. If you are doing the exercises and stretches incorrectly this can lead to an injury or increased sciatica pain. After learning the correct way to exercise and strengthen the target muscles associated with sciatica it is important to commit to a regular program. Adding a daily program of gentle sciatica stretches and strengthening exercises you will be able to recover and most likely won’t reinjure your sciatica in the future.


The piriformis muscle is a common cause of sciatic pain.  When piriformis muscles become short and/or tight, they can compress the sciatic nerve. Try stretching your piriformis muscle every day & this will keep the muscle elongated and flexible, and will keep it from pressing on your tender sciatic nerve. The correct way to stretch your piriformis:

  1. Lie on your back. Bend your right knee so that your right foot is flat on the floor.
  2. Cross your left leg over your right so that your left ankle rests on your right knee.
  3. Use your hands to grab hold of your left knee and pull it gently toward the opposite shoulder. You should feel the stretch in your buttocks and hips.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. Relax, and then repeat with the other leg.
  6. Repeat this cycle 2 to 4 times.

Another thing you can do to protect your back from sciatica pain is to use good body mechanics and to maintain proper posture when sitting. The best chair needs to have good lower back support, arm rests and a swivel base. It can be helpful to place a pillow or even a rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain a normal curve. Don’t forget to keep your knees and hips level.

Sciatica Resource Center

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