Sciatica Stretching exercise routine is designed to help relieve sciatica, a pain caused by the irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica is a symptom, often of a pinched nerve, rather than a condition. Sciatica is a painful nerve condition which tantalizes millions of people worldwide, affecting the sciatic nerves, two very long nerve that extend from the back of the pelvis, pass through the buttocks and the back of each leg, ending at the feet. Sciatica is a broad term used for pain relating to an inflammation or pinching of the sciatic nerve. The pain is usually felt in the lower back around the sacrum area, in the hips, or along the backs of the thighs. Sometimes, it can feel like a bad cramp, or it may be an excruciating pain shooting down the leg that makes any position–standing or sitting–nearly impossible. People experience this pain because the sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, through the buttocks and down through the legs. While various treatments exist to help relieve the pain sciatica causes, doctors may first try physical therapy exercises. It should be noted that anyone trying these exercises should first consult their physician.
Sciatic Nerve Stretching Exercise
Maybe you have vivid memories of a round of sciatica sending pain shooting down your right leg. Swinging a club is nearly impossible, as is performing even the most basic daily activities. The sciatic nerve travels from the lower spine down the legs to the feet. This nerve can be irritated by nearby nerve damage and compression of the main sciatic nerve, according to Spine Health. Each individual should have his particular case evaluated by a medical professional. Stretching the sciatic nerve will help alleviate pain and help prevent future flare-ups. Let’s look at some basic sciatic nerve stretching exercises.
Therapeutic yoga stretches – Poses
As a therapeutic sequence, it will work best if you do the stretches once a day. You may get better results if you do it twice: morning and night, but don’t overdo it. Also, if another activity that you are doing – for instance, yoga – is causing your sciatica, this may not be enough to relieve your symptoms. You may have to ease off your other activity for a while if you want to feel results.
The Figure 4 Stretch
This simple stretch involves lying on a flat surface and doing just as the name implies: contorting into a figure 4. While on the back, bring your right leg up to a right angle and grasp it with both hands behind the thigh, locking your fingers. Take your left leg and place your ankle against the knee. This helps stretch the tiny piriformis, which sometimes becomes inflamed and presses against the sciatic nerve causing pain. Repeat by switching sides and doing the same procedure with the other leg.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Regular stretching of the hamstrings can be beneficial in relieving sciatica pain, according to Ron S. Miller, a physical therapist. The hamstrings consist of a group of muscles located at the backs of your upper thighs. Tight, stiff hamstrings can lead to lower back pain and/or sciatica, states Miller. An effective stretch starts with you lying on your back with your right leg extended forward. Lift your left leg, place your hands behind your knee and bend and pull your knee toward your torso until you feel a stretch at the back of your thigh. Slowly straighten your knee to further the stretch. Pause for 10 seconds, relax and repeat with your right leg. Repeat 10 to 12 times. Gradually increase your time to 30 seconds per leg.
The Pigeon Stretch
The Pigeon Stretch is a common yoga pose. Not surprisingly, it involves positioning yourself much like the bird. It works to broadly open the hips.
- Kneel on the floor on all fours.
- Stretch the left leg out all the way behind you, toes pointing down.
- Shift your body weight gradually from your arms to your legs, leaning back and exhaling as you do so. Do not try to arch your upper body at a right angle while in that pose. This might cause you to strain your back.
Typical features of any sciatica exercise program include:
Core muscle strength. Many sciatica exercises serve to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles in order to provide more support for the back.
Specific diagnosis. Most exercise programs will be tailored to address the underlying cause of the patient’s sciatic pain, such as a lumbar herniated disc or spinal stenosis.
Aerobic exercises. In addition to specific sciatica exercises, aerobic conditioning may also be encouraged for general body fitness. Walking is an excellent form of exercise for the low back because it is relatively low impact but can provide all the benefits of an aerobic workout.
- You can always hold these positions for a longer time period to get more benefit.
- Repeat this routine multiple times a day if needed.
- Never push for more range of movement than is comfortable; it should never be painful.
- Stretching for long periods of time can loosen joints and temporarily increase your chances for injury during physical activity.