Best Stretches for Sciatica
Sciatica is a pain caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve. It usually manifests as a sharp and burning sensation that goes from the lower back down the leg, and the most common cause is a slipped (herniated) disk.
There are numerous stretches that can significantly help with sciatica. However, although they provide instant relief, you will need to practice them on a daily basis to notice significant changes.
If you practice yoga to decrease sciatica symptoms, you should also check out the ‘Yoga Burn Challenge’ website. If you go to their website, you will find many extremely useful total-body challenges that can help you in numerous ways.
Chronic Sciatica Treatments
The truth is, exercises can help you a lot with sciatica. However, if you have chronic problems, you might also need to apply other methods that include a combination of medical treatment and self-care measures.
For example, you can apply physical or cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is very interesting and unique since it helps manage pain by training people to respond differently when the pain occurs. After all, you can try painkillers when there are no other options or when you need quick relief.
However, if symptoms don’t respond to other treatments and continue to intensify, you might need to have surgery. Usually, surgical options include lumbar laminectomy and discectomy. The first consists of the widening of the spinal cord in the lower back to reduce pressure on the nerves. Discectomy, on the other hand, includes partial or entire removal of a herniated disk.
Basic Stretches for Sciatica
Scissor Hamstring Stretch
The first stretch that we will discuss is called the scissor hamstring stretch. The problem with hamstring muscles is that they can pull on your pelvis, and increase pressure on your lower back and therefore irritate your sciatic nerve. However, this stretch is very easy to perform and will usually provide you with instant pain relief.
Start by standing with your right foot about 3 inches in front of your left foot. Then, face your hips and shoulders forward and place your hands on your hips. You can also put a hand on a chair on the side if you struggle to maintain balance. Next, bend at the waist while folding your torso forward, and keep your back straight. You also need to keep most of your weight over the front leg.
Hold this position up to 10 seconds, and then try it with the other leg.
Standing Calf Stretch
Although the calf muscles are usually overlooked, the fact is that their tightness is often associated with sciatica. The standing calf stretch is another excellent exercise to keep those muscles loose and therefore prevent lower back, sciatica-like pain.
Start the exercise by standing and facing the wall, around 2 steps away from the wall. Then, put the right foot forward, with your right knee slightly bent. Also, keep the left heel grounded on the floor.
Bring your upper body a little bit forward, and if you need, feel free to use a wall for stability. While doing that, you should feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold the stretch up to 20 seconds, then slightly bend the knee of your left leg. You should then feel the stretch in another part of your calf. Again, hold up to 20 seconds.
Supine Piriformis Stretch
It is often necessary to stretch the piriformis muscle in order to relieve pain around the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle extends across the sciatic nerve to the top of the femur. Let’s see what kind of exercise you should do if your left leg is affected by the pain. You have to do the opposite if your right leg is affected.
Start the exercise by laying on your back, and your legs extended straight. Then, cross your left leg over the right thigh, and place your left foot on the outside of your right knee. Grab the left knee with the right hand, while gently pulling your leg towards the right side. Do that until you feel a stretch and then hold for between 20 and 30 seconds. Also, note that you should keep your hip on the ground for the maximum effect of this exercise.
When you are done, slowly return to the starting position, and that’s it — pretty simple, yet effective stretch.
Another great stretch that probably derives from yoga. There are multiple versions of this stretch, but we will talk about the most common one.
Lay on your back and bring your right leg up to a right angle. Then, clasp both hands behind the thigh. Next, lift the left leg and position the right ankle on the left knee. Hold this position for a moment until you feel stretching in the piriformis muscle. Then, do the same exercise with the other leg, and you should feel instant relief.
Knee to Opposite Shoulder
This is a very simple stretch that relieves sciatica pain by loosening piriformis and gluteal muscles. It is important to stretch and relax them since they can become inflamed and put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Lie on the back with hands extended and feet flexed upward. Then, bend the right leg and clasp hands around the knee. Pull your right leg gently toward your shoulder and hold for between 20 and 30 seconds. However, make sure that you pull your knee as far as you feel comfortable; you want to feel relief while stretching, not a pain.
Then, return to the starting position and do two more reps. After you have done that, do the same for the opposite leg.
In the End
We are sure that these exercises will help you a lot when it comes to sciatica pain relief. However, don’t forget to check out the Yoga Burn Challenge website. They are providing tremendous total-body challenges that are extremely useful to everyone and can help a person achieve better mental and physical conditions.