The 5 Easy Stretches You Will Want To Know To Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain
Sciatic nerve pain is no joke —- the burning, shooting pain down your back and into your legs can make it possible to concentrate on anything else. It can make it difficult to walk, stand, or even sit. The sciatic nerve is the longest in your body, running from your lower back down your legs. When this nerve becomes pinched or irritated, it can cause intense pain.
While there is no cure for sciatic nerve pain, there are stretches that can help ease the pain and provide some relief. These stretches are simple and can be done anywhere, making them an ideal way to address pain flare-ups as they happen. Remember to breathe deeply and slowly as you perform each stretch, and never force your body into a position that causes pain. If you experience any sharp pains, stop immediately.
So, if you’re looking for relief, give these stretches a try.
1. Hamstring Stretch
Tight hamstrings are another common cause of sciatic nerve pain. Since the sciatic nerve runs through the hamstrings, tightness in these muscles can put pressure on or irritate the nerve. This can cause pain or numbness in the legs or lower back.
The first stretch is simple but effective. It targets your hamstrings and the muscles at the back of your thigh. To do this stretch, lie flat on your back with both legs extended straight in front of you. Slowly raise one leg, keeping your knee straight, until you feel a gentle stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 30 seconds before lowering your leg and repeating it with the other leg.
2. Piriformis Stretch
The piriformis is a small muscle located deep in the buttocks. This muscle can tighten and cause pain when it rubs against the sciatic nerve. This stretch is particularly good for people who sit for long periods. When you sit, your hip flexor muscles tighten, and your piriformis—a small muscle in your butt—can start to spasm.
To stretch this muscle, start by lying on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your right ankle on top of your left knee, so your right calf is parallel to the ground. Gently pull your left leg toward you until you feel a stretch in the buttock area of your right leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds before repeating it on the other side.
3. Pigeon Pose
This stretch is ideal for opening up the hips and relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve. Start in the pigeon posture by lowering yourself to the ground and extending your right leg forward while keeping your left leg behind.
As you do this, ensure your right leg is parallel to your left leg, and your right shin is on the floor. While keeping your left leg bent at the knee and your foot pointing forward, your right foot should be pointed straight back. Maintaining your left hip firmly planted on the ground, slowly bend your chest forward over your right leg. Ideally, your right hip and glute should feel highly stretched. Repeat on the other side.
4. Knee-to-Chest Stretch
This stretch targets multiple areas contributing to sciatica, including tight hamstrings, lower back muscles, and hip rotator muscles. Furthermore, it helps increase blood flow to these areas, speeding healing. This next stretch helps to release tension in the lower back and buttocks area by stretching both the lower back muscles and the piriformis muscle at the same time.
To do this stretch, lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place both hands behind one knee and pull it up towards your chest until a mild to moderate stretch is felt along the entire spine. Be sure not to keep your shoulders pressed into the floor throughout the movement. Repeat on the opposite side.
Hold this position for 20-30 seconds before slowly returning to starting work and repeating with the other leg. You should feel a gentle but effective stretch along the entire length of the spine and through the hips.
5. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a great all-around stretch that helps relieve tension not only in the lower back but also in areas like hips, thighs, calves, ankles, and feet that can all contribute to sciatica when they are tight or imbalanced.
To do a child’s pose, start by sitting on your heels with your toes touching and fingers interlinked behind your head. As you exhale, slowly lean forward so that your forehead touches the ground in front of you while keeping both buttocks touching your heels. You should feel a stretch along your spine and through both hips. Hold this position for 30 seconds before returning to sit on your heels again.
Even basic things may seem impossible when suffering from sciatica. Although there is no treatment, stretches can reduce sciatica pain by letting go of tension in the surrounding muscles. Always check your doctor before starting any new fitness program, especially if you have an injury or a chronic pain condition like sciatica.
Regular stretching may help reduce the frequency or intensity of flare-ups associated with sciatica, but it won’t completely cure the problem. Give these stretches a try and see which ones work best for you. The next time you experience sciatic nerve pain, enjoy trying out these 5 stretches!