Stretching exercises for sciatic pain is a relief. Sciatica is the pain caused by an impingement of the sciatic nerve, which can be the result of a ruptured disk, narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis) or an injury. Whatever the cause, it’s pure misery.
Luckily, there’s something that can help. Any exercise that stretches and externally rotates the hip is going to help the pain of sciatica. Here are six of the best.
Please note, if you have a back injury or a known spinal condition, consult a doctor before doing any of these stretches.
1. Reclining Pigeon Pose
This pose opens up the hips, which are often very tight for runners. It also helps to stretch the piriformis muscle, which can become inflamed and cause a lot of pain by impinging the sciatic nerve.
Lie on your back and bring your right let up so it’s at a right angle, your foot pointed at the ceiling. Intertwine your fingers behind your thigh. Now lift your left leg and put your right ankle on top of your left knee. It’ll look sort of like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. Hold the position for twenty to thirty seconds. Repeat on the other side.
2. Sitting Pigeon Pose
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right leg until your ankle is on top of your left knee. Lean forward, grasping your left foot, which is still out straight. Let your upper body drop down toward your thigh. Hold the position for twenty to thirty seconds. Repeat on the other side.
3. Forward Pigeon Pose
Kneel on all fours. Take you right leg and cross it in front of your body so your lower leg is on the ground with your foot pointing to the left side, but on a line in front of your right knee. Your right knee should still be on the right of the midline of your body. Now stretch your left leg straight out behind you as far as you can, with the top of your foot against the ground and your toes.
Let your left knee bend a little. Shift your weight so that you’re not leaning on your hands and straighten your back until you’re sitting up with your hands on either side of your legs. Your body weight should be on your legs. Take a deep breath, and when you exhale, bend your upper body over your front leg until your forehead touches the floor, supporting your weight with your arms. (Your weight shifts from front to back to front in this pose). Hold for twenty to thirty seconds, then repeat on the other side.
4. Knee to Opposite Shoulder
These are other stretching exercises for sciatic pain that really helps to release the piriformis, and it’s great for your glutes.
Lie on your back with your legs straight and your feet flexed so your toes are pointed at the ceiling. Bend your right leg and intertwine your fingers around your knee. Gently – and gently is key – pull your right knee toward your left shoulder. Don’t pull it too hard, and don’t pull it to the point of discomfort. Hold the position for twenty to thirty seconds, then push your knee back to its starting position. Do this three times, then switch to the other side and do it three times more.
5. Sitting Spinal Stretch
These stretching exercises for sciatic pain will lengthen your spine and counteracts the sort of compression that can pinch the sciatic nerve.
Sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you, feet flexes, toes pointed at the ceiling. Bend your right knee and put your foot flat on the outside of your left knee. Put your left elbow on the outside of your right knee and gently twist your body to the right. Try to twist at the waist instead of at the shoulders. Hold the position for twenty to thirty seconds, then repeat with the other side.
6. Standing Hamstring Stretch
This is one of the simplest method on relieving the hamstrings.
Put your right foot up on something elevated – like a barre or a box or a chair – so that it’s at a level at or below your hip. Flex your foot and keep your toes and leg straight. Try to keep your knee soft, so don’t lock it, and try not to hyperextend. Bend forward toward your foot as far as you can comfortably go. Be careful not to push beyond your comfort level. While you’re leaning forward, release the hip of your raised leg so it goes downward, not up. If this is difficult to do, you can use a yoga strap or exercise band over your right thigh and under your left foot. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds, then repeat with the other side.
A Bit of Caution with Stretching Exercises for Sciatic Pain
Remember: when you’re doing these stretches, it’s important to move in slow, smooth motions. Don’t go too quickly, and don’t bounce. That can make you stretch farther than your body is ready to go, and instead of relieving sciatic pain, you’ll be injuring yourself.
Flexibility, like endurance and speed in running, is something that needs to be built up to. Don’t try to force yourself into the deepest bends or the farthest stretches right off the bat. The point is to do what feels good and helps your body. As a little outside help some people take Glucosamine as it can help lubricate some of your joints.
However, if any of these stretches causes pain, stop. Customize any or all of these stretching exercises for sciatic pain so you’re helping yourself and not hurting. Again, if you have a back injury or a known spinal condition, consult a doctor before doing any of these stretches.