5 Best Stretches and Exercise for Sciatica : The sciatic nerve travels from the lower spine to the hips and goes down through the legs into the feet. This nerve is responsible for providing sensation and stamina to the muscles of our legs and feet. The sciatica pain is not a medical condition, instead it is a symptom that can get triggered due to many different reasons like when the sciatic nerve is pressed tightly by an inflamed or tight muscle, or because of a herniated disc in the back, or because of problems in body parts like pelvis, back, hips.
The pain of sciatica can vary from mild to severe; it can be so bad that a person might not even be able to move from their place or do basic things like sitting or standing.
Common Cause of Sciatica
- Piriformis syndrome, a pain disorder that affects the buttock muscle
- A bulging or herniated disc pressing tightly against the sciatic nerve
- Changes in the spinal disks, due to age, that compact the nerves
- Extra bone growth near the sciatic nerve
- Spinal Stenosis which can squeeze the nerves
- A pelvic injury or fracture
Sciatica pain can be treated with different kinds of treatments, which also include several stretches and exercises that help relieve the pain. The sciatic nerve stretches help in reconstructing one’s posture and eliminates pressure on the nerve. It also helps with regaining stamina and flexibility. Experts advice doing sciatic nerve stretches daily, along with other exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga. If these stretches and exercises are correctly done in a pattern, then they can help relieve the sciatica pain in just a few weeks.
Here are five stretches and exercise moves recommended for sciatica.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Start with lying flat on your back; use a mat or carpet as your base. Keep either a small flat cushion or a book under your head, and bend your knees, keeping your feet straight and hip-width apart. Your upper body should be completely relaxed, and your chin should be smoothly constricted. Now bend your one knee up and bring it towards your chest and hold it there tightly with your hands, stay in this position for 20 to 30 seconds, while taking deep breaths. Then bring your knee back to its starting position. Repeat the same step 3 times with an alternative knee each time.
You can also make some moderations, by gripping both knees at one time and pressing them again your chest. Make sure to keep your chest, shoulders, and neck relaxed, and only stretch as far as you are comfortable. Start slowly, and you’ll see improvement.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Begin with standing straight with your feet brought together. Now lift the affected leg straight in front of you, while resting your heel on a table or shelf at a hip-width apart. Keep your knee straight, bend towards at the waist, keeping your spine straight till you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold in that position for 20 to 30 seconds, and then release. Now return to your initial position and repeat the same steps on the other side.
It is advised to the only stretch till you are comfortable, you might feel like you are not being able to do a lot in the beginning, but once you stretch regularly, you will progress. If you are suffering from sciatic pain caused by a slipped disc, then this exercise can be quite helpful.
Seated Spinal Twist
Sit straight on the floor with your legs straightened out together in front of you. Bend one leg at the knee and place your foot on the floor outside of the opposite knee. Now twist your body towards the bent knee and place your opposite elbow on it. At this point, you will feel the stretch, hold in that position for 20 to 30 seconds, and return it back to your beginning position. Now repeat the same steps on the opposite side.
Some people find it hard to do this exercise the right way, so it is better if you watch some video tutorials or pictures to understand better.
Full Cobra or Modified Cobra
Start with lying flat on your stomach, extending your legs together while bending your elbows and your palms resting on the floor by your chest. For modified cobra, push through the palms and moderately straighten your elbows lifting your chest above the floor, making a 45-degree angle. For full cobra, straighten your elbows and lift your chest further above the floor. Hold in that position for 5 to 10 seconds, and then return to your starting position. This exercise should be repeated at least ten times.
The full or modified cobra pose helps push back a slipped disc by creating development in the spinal cord. When the disc returns towards its place, it automatically minimizes the sciatica pain.
Pigeon pose is a common pose used in yoga for opening the hips, that is why it can be helpful for individuals suffering from sciatica nerve pain explicitly caused by problems in the hip. There are many variations of this stretching exercise. The one recommended for beginners is the Reclining Pigeon Pose.
Reclining Pigeon Pose
Begin with laying on your back and bringing your right leg up to a right angle. Then clamp both your hands behind your thigh and lock your fingers. Now lift your left leg and place your right ankle on your left knee. You will feel the stretch, stay in this position for a few seconds, and then return to your starting position. Repeat the same exercise on the other leg.
The Reclining Pigeon pose stretches the tiny piriformis muscles in our body, which sometimes cause pain because of inflammation or by pressing against the sciatic nerve. Once you can do this pose without any pain, you can move forward and perform the Sitting Pigeon pose, or the Forward Pigeon pose.
Sitting Pigeon Pose
Start with sitting on the floor, keeping your legs straight and stretched out in front of you. Bend your right leg, bringing your right ankle on top of your left knee. Bend forward and let your upper body right your thigh. Now stay in this stretching position for 20 to 30 seconds, and then return to your original posture. Repeat the same steps on the other side.
Forward Pigeon Pose
Begin with getting in a kneeling position on your feet and hands. Pick up your right leg and move it ahead on the ground bringing it in front of your body. At this position, your lower leg should be placed on the ground, parallel to your body, and your right foot should be in front of your right knee while your right knee stays to the right. Now stretch your left leg out on the floor, all the way behind you while keeping the top of the foot on ground and toes pointing back. Alter your body weight steadily from your arms to your legs so they can lift your weight. Now sit straight with your hands on either side of your legs and take a deep breath. While exhaling lift your upper body ahead over your front leg, putting your body weight on your arms. Now repeat the same steps for the other side.
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