Sciatica Stretches and Exercises
What stretches and exercises are the best treatment for sciatica?
One of the last things you feel like doing when you’re experiencing sciatic pain is getting up on your feet and doing sciatica stretches. Stretching those muscles sounds unappealing, but a gentle movement is actually one of the best things to do to help you get better, faster.
Anytime we’re in pain, our natural instinct is to rest and take it easy. Our bodies, as well as our minds, tell us to lie down and rest. In some ways, that’s right. You do want to avoid any strenuous activities like heavy lifting or anything that makes your pain significantly worse. But extended periods of rest lead to weakened muscles and that can only increase the possibility of further complications. Staying as active as possible is good for your circulation and for your mood. But sciatica stretches are one way we want to help you re-consider your usual pain-management routine and is one of the best treatment for sciatica.
Gentle exercises that stretch your muscles without placing additional strain on your joints or back, like sciatica stretches, will help strengthen your abdominal core, your back, and your leg muscles. This will help support your spine and bring relief from pain and muscle spasms.
While doing these sciatica stretches, it’s very important to move slowly. Avoid quick, bouncing movements. Never jerk your body. Jerking and rapid twisting or bouncing motions while doing sciatica stretches could injure or tear muscle tissue. You should not experience any pain while completing sciatica stretches. Don’t force yourself into uncomfortable or difficult positions. Almost everyone can benefit from the type of gentle stretching that’s recommended with sciatica stretches.
Tendons, ligaments, and muscles, as well as your spine, can benefit from sciatica stretches. Over time, you will notice increased mobility, flexibility and decreased pain. And you will notice this, not only on your back. Sciatica stretches are one of the best treatment for sciatica, and when done correctly and routinely, can improve your posture and decrease tightness and tension throughout your musculoskeletal system. It improves blood flow, bringing oxygen to tissues and removing toxins. Sciatica stretches encourage and promote healing.
It’s important that you start slowly and gradually increase your number of repetitions. Remember, easy does it with sciatica stretches. You can find many stretching programs to help with back pain and sciatica. We’ve listed a few popular stretches for sciatica to get you started.
Sciatica Stretches: Mobilizing stretch
Sciatica stretches like this one are great for the sciatic nerve and the muscles in the back of the thigh (hamstrings).
Starting position: Lying on your back with a small folded towel under your head. Your legs are bent at the knees; feet are flat on the floor and about a hip-width apart.
- Relax your upper body, tuck in your chin slightly
- Unbend your right knee and bring it up towards your chest
- With both your hands, grasp your right upper leg above your knee, on your hamstring muscle
- Without pressing your lower back into the floor, slowly straighten your knee as far as you can. Stop right away if you feel any numbness, tingling or pain
- Hold this position for a count of 20, taking slow, deep breaths
- Slowly return to the starting position
- Repeat with the left leg
- Repeat three times, alternating legs
Sciatica Stretches: Back extensions
Sciatica stretches like this one increase the backward flexibility of the spine
Starting position: Lying on your abdomen. Lengthen your spine by propping yourself up on your elbows. Keep your neck forward and your shoulders back
- Keeping your neck long and forward, and your hips grounded, push down on your hands and arch your back as far as is comfortable possible
- Do not bend your neck backward. You should be able to feel gentle stretching in your abdominal muscles
- Breathe in and hold for a count of 5 -10, relax
- Return to the starting position
- Repeat 10 times
Sciatica Stretches: Standing Hamstring Stretch
Sciatica stretches like this one is wonderful for the hamstrings. It lengthens and stretches them.
Starting position: Standing upright, next to a step.
- Place your left leg up onto the step
- Keeping your left leg straight and your left toes pointed straight up, lean forward. Remember to keep your back straight; don’t arch your back
- Only stretch forward as far as is comfortably possible. Hold for a count of 10-20 while breathing slowly and deeply.
- Return to the starting position and relax.
- Repeat with the right leg
- Repeat 2 or 3 times, alternating legs
Sciatica Stretches: Lying deep gluteal stretch
The piriformis muscle is in your lower buttock area. Sciatica stretches like this one lengthen and strengthen it.
Starting position: Lying on your back. Place a small folded towel under your head.
- Bend your right leg at the knee
- Now, rest your left foot on your right thigh
- Keeping your hips and pelvis straight and your tailbone on the floor, use your hands to pull your right thigh towards your chest
- Taking slow deep breaths in and out, hold the position for a count of 10-20.
- Return to the starting position and relax
- Repeat with the opposite leg
- Repeat 2 to 3 times with each leg.
- If you can’t hold onto your thigh, use a towel to grasp it
Sciatica Stretches: Knee to chest stretch
Sciatica stretches like this one improve flexibility in the lower back area
Starting position: Lying on your back with a small folded towel under your head. Your legs are bent at the knees, feet are flat on the floor and about a hip-width apart.
- Relax your upper body and slightly tuck your chin in. Remember to stay relaxed, especially through your chest, shoulders, and neck throughout the stretch.
- Bring your right knee up toward your chest and, grasping it with your hands, continuing stretching it in towards your chin as far as you comfortably can
- Breathing slowly and deeply, hold this position for a count of 20-30
- Relax and return to the starting position
- Repeat with your left leg
- Repeat 3 times, alternating legs.
- As a variation, press both knees towards the chest at the same time