Sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, is so painful and debilitating that most people can’t get off their bed or stand upright. Sciatica is perhaps one of the most painful forms of back pain, and it can be caused by several issues, including a ruptured disk, spinal injuries, or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal.)
If you have sciatic nerve pain, you must consult an interventional pain specialist who accurately diagnoses the root cause of your pain and provides relevant long-term treatments. However, it’s just as important to exercise and stretch your body for relief. In this article, we take you through some simple exercises to help with sciatica.
1. Hamstring Stretch
- Start by elevating your right foot on a surface below your hip level, such as a chair, box steps, or an ottoman. Ensure your toes and legs are straight, with your knees slightly bent to prevent hyperextension.
- Bend over and reach for your toes, going as far as possible. Try going for a deep stretch, but don’t push yourself further if the pain flares up.
- While pushing towards the toes, make sure your hip dips downward rather than lifting up. You can ask someone to help keep your hips down.
- Maintain this position for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
Purpose: Ease the tightness in your hamstrings.
2. Knee-to-Shoulder Stretch
- Lie down on your back.
- Extend your legs and flex your feet upwards.
- Bend your right leg and encircle your hands around the knee.
- Pull your right knees toward your opposite (left) shoulder. Pull it as much as possible, but not so much that you feel pain in your muscles.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat this movement with the same leg 3 more times.
- Switch sides and pull your left leg closer to your right shoulder, and repeat it an equal number of times.
Purpose: Loosening the gluteal and piriformis muscles, relieving sciatic nerve inflammation.
3. Sitting Pigeon Pose
- Sit down and extend your legs straight in front of you.
- Bend your right leg and place the ankle over your left knee.
- Lean over and rest your torso over your thighs.
- Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat this position on the other side.
Purpose: Opening the hips to relieve pain.
4. Sitting Spine Stretch
- Sit down and extend your legs straight in front of you. Your feet should be flexed upwards.
- Bend your right knee upwards and place the foot flat on the floor. Your right leg should cross over the opposite knee.
- Move your left elbow outside the right leg.
- Turn your body towards the right.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Change sides and repeat.
Purpose: Stretching the spine to create space between the vertebrae.
5. Forward Pigeon Pose
- Kneel down on the floors on your hands and knees.
- Lift your right leg and move it in front of your body. Twist your leg to place the lower leg on the floor, horizontal against your body. The foot should be just in front of the left knee.
- Extend your left leg as much as possible, your toes pointing backward. Feel a deep stretch.
- Let go of your arms a little, resting your body weight on your legs.
- Sit up straight, your hands gently touching the floor on either side of your legs.
- Breathe deeply and lean forward over your front leg. Your arms should support your weight.
- Return to the original position and repeat on the other side.
Purpose: Opening the hips for further spinal pain relief.