People with sciatica more often experience excruciating and debilitating pain. Among other symptoms, sciatica pain is felt in the buttocks and runs all the way down to the back of the leg. It’s pretty common, with a lifetime incidence between 10 to 40 percent.
The crippling pain requires immediate medical attention! Among various treatments available, complementary health approaches like sciatica stretches or yoga are gaining popularity these days.
As the sciatic nerve runs through these muscles—lower back, abdominal, and hamstring muscles, it may get pressed or irritated because of muscle spasms.
With these stretches, you can relax the muscles and get immediate pain relief.
What Stretches are Good for Sciatica?
- Sitting Pigeon Pose
- Knee to Chest
- Reclining Pigeon Pose
- Seated Spinal Stretch
- Cobra Pose
- Groin and Long Adductor Muscle Stretch
- Seated Hip Stretch
- Standing Hamstring Stretch
- Standing Piriformis Stretch
- Scissor Hamstring Stretch
- Sciatic Nerve Glide Exersice
Specific stretches have shown the potential to reduce sciatica-related discomfort. The different poses in these stretches target various body muscles to make them more flexible and relaxed.
NOTE: Though most people find these stretches helpful, you must talk to your doctor before doing any stretching exercises to avoid any complications.
1. Sitting Pigeon Pose
The sitting pigeon pose involves sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position, and it targets your lower back and glutes area. To perform this stretch, follow these simple steps:
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretching out in front of you.
- Place your bent right leg’s ankle on top of the left knee.
- Bend forward until your upper body reaches towards your thigh.
- Maintain this position for at least 15-30 seconds.
- Do it on the other side.
2. Knee to Chest
This stretch promotes spinal flexion. It is an effective way to free the sciatic nerve from the compressed tissue. You can do this exercise with one or both knees at a time.
- Make yourself comfortable by lying in the supine position on the floor.
- Bend your knees. Raise one or both of your knees and bring them towards your chest.
- After 5 seconds, take back your knees to the starting point.
- Perform this stretch up to three times.
3. Reclining Pigeon Pose
This stretch relieves sciatica pain by alleviating tension in your hips. Here is how you can do this stretch:
- Bend your knees while lying on the ground.
- Place the right ankle on the opposite thigh, making a right angle.
- Bring the left thigh towards the body.
- Stay in this position until you feel uncomfortable.
- Repeat it on the other leg.
- Click here to shop an ergonomic recliner chair for yourself.
4. Seated Spinal Stretch
The leading cause of sciatica is the compression of the vertebrae. With this stretch, you can increase the gap between these vertebrae disks and reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
You can also do this effective exercise for sciatica at home by following these steps:
- Sit on the floor with your legs straightened out.
- Bend your right knee, and place your feet on the outside of your other knee.
- Place your left elbow on the bent knee and gently turn your trunk toward the right.
- Hold your posture for the next 30 seconds.
- Repeat this stretch three times before switching the sides.
5. Cobra Pose
Cobra pose is one of the most famous sciatica stretches. It acts on spinal extension, relieving strain from a herniated disk.
- Lie on your stomach on the ground.
- Place your hands on the floor by the chest while bending your elbows.
- For this pose, raise your chest by straightening the elbows to about a 45-degree angle.
- Hold this position for about 10 seconds.
- Perform around ten repetitions of this exercise.
6. Groin and Long Adductor Muscle Stretch
This sciatica stretch helps in strengthening the groin and adductor muscles.
- Sit on the floor and spread your legs as far as possible.
- Lean your torso forward toward the floor with the help of your hands.
- While leaning forward, keep your elbows on the floor.
- Try to hold your position for 10-15 seconds.
7. Seated Hip Stretch
The seated hip stretch is good for relaxing the piriformis muscle. The sciatic nerve runs underneath this muscle. When the piriformis is irritated, it presses the sciatic nerve, leading to aggravation of pain.
Here is how you can stretch the piriformis muscle:
- Sit in a chair with knees bent at a right angle.
- Raise the affected leg and place it on the opposite knee
- Slowly lean forward towards the crossed leg.
- Keep breathing deeply and stay in this pose for 30 seconds.
8. Standing Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring muscles are in the posterior of the thigh. The tightened hamstring muscles can irritate the sciatic nerve.
Like other sciatica stretches that help alleviate the pressure from the affected nerve, this exercise also relaxes the hamstring muscle and delivers pain relief.
- Take a chair. Place your right foot on this chair. Ensure the chair’s height is at or below your hip level.
- By flexing your foot, keep your toes and leg straight.
- Gently bring your body toward your foot.
- Push the hip of your raised leg downwards.
- After holding the pose for around 30 seconds, do it on the left leg.
9. Standing Piriformis Stretch
This is one of the sciatica stretches that can help ease sciatica pain. You will need to stand near a wall for support.
- While standing, place your affected leg over the knees of the other leg.
- Bend your standing leg and lower down your hip.
- At the same time, bend your waist down while keeping the back straight.
- Stay in that position for a minute.
- Repeat on the other leg.
10. Scissor Hamstring Stretch
The stretch is to relieve the tension in the hamstring muscle. Here is how you should do this stretch to target hamstrings:
- Extend your right foot in front of the left, almost 3 feet, while standing.
- Place hands on your waist and gently bend your torso towards the right leg.
- Keep your back straight during this stretch.
- After holding in this position, perform this exercise with the other leg.
11. Sciatic Nerve Glide Exersice
A sciatic nerve glide is a seated exercise that helps desensitize and relax your nerve.
To do this exercise:
- Sit on the chair with a straight back.
- Extend one leg while keeping the other bend at the knee.
- Move your feet back and forth by bending the ankle.
- Also, point your toes towards you and then away from you.
- If bearable, bring your head forward towards your chest.
- Push your ankles up and down 15 to 20 times before switching to the other leg.
Final Words on Sciatica Stretches
Stretching is helpful, but it is essential to listen to your body. After the stretching, the pain will increase and then fades away. It is normal. However, if the sciatica pain persists, stop the exercise immediately.
It is better to do these sciatica stretches with your physiotherapists.
Managing sciatica pain can be a difficult task at times. Various therapies and medications are being used for pain relief.
The above stretches can aggravate sciatica pain, and hence you should do these exercises under your healthcare provider consultation.