Here are the 7 Best Stretches for Sciatica Pain
While it’s rarely a problem for the younger crowd, sciatica pain will eventually affect up to 40% of the population. That may sound like a harsh reality; fortunately, there is good news… you can do stretches for sciatica pain and improve your chances of a quick recovery.
What is Sciatica Pain?
If you have sciatic pain, you surely know it, but for those lucky ones who have never experienced it, let’s delve into sciatic pain and its origins. Sciatica pain is also known as lumbar radiculopathy. The pain starts with your sciatic nerve, which is located in your lower back and goes all the way down your leg.
Some of the symptoms of sciatica can include:
- Tingling down your leg
- Pain from your glutes all the way down to your foot
- Weakness in certain cases
Many things can cause sciatic pain, but it’s often the result of a pinched or herniated disk in your backbone or a narrowing of the opening in the bones. If that’s the case, you’ll need a doctor to diagnose you and may require an MRI or an X-ray to determine if that’s the cause of your pain.
What are the causes of sciatic pain? A few culprits include:
- Excessive inactivity
- Type 2 diabetes
This nerve pain can also be caused by tight muscles putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. A lot of people will experience this kind of pain if their piriformis muscle is tight.
What is the piriformis? It is a muscle that originates at your lower back near your backbone and wraps around under your glute muscles to connect to your upper thigh bone on each leg. The piriformis helps you rotate your legs and hips. When this muscle gets tight, since it runs along the same path as the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain.
How Can You Heal From Sciatica?
Healing from sciatica will require some patience, unfortunately. You’ll need to rest, apply hot and/or cold compresses to the area, and most likely, you’ll need some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and possibly even some pain pills. Lastly, you may need to see a medical provider if you need muscle manipulation or (hopefully not) surgery.
Otherwise, a body in movement is a body bringing fresh, healing blood to the area. So, if nothing else, try some directed stretches for sciatica pain to help loosen your muscles.
Try These Best Stretches for Sciatica Pain
These stretches and exercises can help relieve the pain from sciatica. Try to incorporate a few of these into your fitness plan each day, especially the piriformis stretches—the piriformis can be a little bit hard to get to. Still, with a few pretzel-like moves, you’ll be able to stretch it out effectively.
Most of the following stretches for sciatica pain help address this tiny muscle, which is often the culprit. Since it’s so close to the sciatic nerve, stretching this area can seriously reduce your pain.
1. Lying Knee to Chest Stretches
Start by lying on your back with your legs outstretched. Next, bend your right leg and grab behind your knee with both hands, pulling it up to your chest and over to the left. Hold for a moment and return to the start, repeating on the opposite side.
2. Seated Hip Stretches
Start by sitting in a chair and bend your right leg, twisting it to bring your foot up onto your left knee (legs crossed). Next, press down on your right knee, pushing it toward the floor until you feel a good stretch through your hip (and piriformis!). Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Inner Thigh Stretch
Begin by sitting on the ground. Bend your knees and bring your legs up, placing the bottoms of your feet together and allowing your knees to fall out to the sides toward the floor. Place a hand on each knee and gently press your knees down to the floor. If you’re feeling super flexible, lean forward at the waist at the same time.
4. Seated Spinal Twist
You’ll start by sitting on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring your right foot over your left leg, placing your foot on the floor. (You may need to bend your left leg a little if you’re not feeling very flexible.) Next, twist your torso and place your left elbow next to your right knee, and twist to look out to your far right. Hold this stretch and then repeat the process on the opposite side.
5. Lying Piriformis Stretch
Begin by lying down on your back and bending your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Bend your knees, bringing your right leg up, and placing your right ankle in front of your left knee (effectively crossing your legs). Grab your left leg under the knee/thigh area and pull gently toward your chest to feel a good stretch through your hips and glutes.
6. Bent-Over Hamstring Stretch
Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart with the knees gently bent. Fold your arms in front of your chest and bend forward at the waist. Then relax and breathe.
7. Forward Pigeon Stretch
Begin by sitting on the ground. Kick your left leg out behind you until it’s fully straight. Bend at the knee and bring your right foot up under your chest area and then gently lean forward over your bent right leg. Enjoy a good stretch through your hips. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then switch legs, repeating the process on the opposite side.