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10 Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief

Sciatica pain is very common and is usually caused by sitting in an office chair for long period of hours. It can also be caused by sitting at a wrong posture or sleeping on an uneven surface. The main culprit, however, is the pressure caused on the sciatic nerve.

There are several pain-free exercises that can provide instant comfort, which this article will discuss in detail. To understand what causes sciatica pain, you first need to understand the sciatic nerve.

What is the Sciatic Nerve?

The start of the sciatic nerve is the lower back. The nerve extends down the hips, to the buttocks and ends behind each knee. If there is any problem or pressure along the path of the sciatic nerve, it results in excruciating pain.

Other common reasons that cause sciatica can include:

  • Injury

  • Dislocation of any one spinal disc

  • Spinal stenosis, where the spine canal narrows down

Another condition that can lead to sciatica pain is known as the piriformis syndrome. The piriformis muscle encloses the buttocks and the top of the thigh and begins at the edge of the spine. When the piriformis muscle spasms, which muscles often do, it can trap the sciatic nerve. As a result, this can lead to sciatic pain.

Stretching often provides relief from the sciatic nerve and these 10 exercises for sciatica are quite effective. So what exercises helps sciatica pain?

These are:

1. Reclining Pigeon Pose

This very common yoga pose targets to open the hips. The reclining pigeon pose comes with multiple versions and this is usually advised when starting the treatment for sciatica. Here is how to effectively do this stretch:

  • Lie on your back and put your right leg up at a right angle. Link your fingers behind you thigh and hold steady.

  • Now lift your left leg and place the right ankle on top of your left knee.

  • Stay in this position for a few seconds allowing the piriformis muscle to stretch. This position also benefits the hip rotator muscles as it stretches providing comfort and relief.

  • Do the stretch one more time with the other leg.

  • If you are able to perform this stretch without pain, you can try the sitting and forward pigeon poses for sciatica pain exercises.

2. Sitting Pigeon Pose

To perform the sitting pigeon pose, do the following:

  • Sit on the floor and stretch out your legs straight in front of you.

  • Pull your right leg towards your body and place the ankle on the left knee.

  • Lean towards your thigh and press your upper body firmly to your legs.

  • Stay in this position for about 30 seconds.

  • This position stretches the lower back muscles and glutes.

  • Repeat the position on the other side.

3. Forward Pigeon Pose

To perform this pose, do the following:

  • Kneel on the floor and get on all fours.

  • Carefully pick your right leg and bring it forward. Keep your foot in the ground in front of your body. The lower part of your leg will stay horizontal to your body, on the ground.

  • This will bring your right foot in front of your left knee.

  • Your right knee will still stay on the right side of your body.

  • Now stretch your left leg all the way behind your back on the floor. The top of your foot will touch the ground while the toes point back.

  • Gradually shift your body weight from your hands to your legs.

  • Straighten your back while your hands balance your body on either side of your legs.

  • Take a deep breath and as you exhale, lean forward towards your front leg. While leaning, your body weight will shift to your arms again.

  • Repeat the process on the other side.

4. Knee to the Opposite Shoulder

  • Lie down on the floor with your arms stretched on the sides and feet flexed upwards.

  • Bending your right leg, hold it at the knee with your fingers.

  • Carefully pull your right leg towards your left shoulder and hold the position for 30 seconds.

  • Be mindful of your comfort while doing this stretch. Go only as far as your muscles allow and you will feel a relieving sensation in your muscle.

  • Gently push your leg back to its starting position. Repeat this stretch three times and then switch legs.

  • The knee to opposite shoulder stretch helps in relieving sciatica pain by targeting the gluteal and piriformis muscles.

5. Sitting Spinal Stretch

The sitting stretch creates space between the vertebrae and the spine, compression of which can cause sciatica pain. This is how you can do the sitting spinal stretch:

  • Sitting on the floor, stretch out your legs straight in front of you and flex your feet upwards.

  • Cross your right foot over your left knee and place it firmly and flat on the ground.

  • Using your left elbow by placing on the outer side of your right knee, turn your upper body to the right.

  • Hold the position for about 30 seconds and do the stretch again on the left side.

6. Standing Hamstring Stretch

Doing this simple stretch can help ease the tightness in the hamstring, which is often an effect of sciatica. Here is how to do it:

  • Placing the right foot on a stool but below the hip level, flex your foot. The toes and leg should be straight however, make sure that if your knee is hyperextended bend it slightly.

  • Bending slightly towards your foot, consider your limits. The more you bend, the deeper will be your stretch.

  • Let go of your right hip and push it gently downward and forward. Here, you can use a yoga strap or a long resistant band to help with the stretch. Loop the band over the right thigh and left foot.

  • Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

7. Basic Seated Stretch

This stretch is very effective yet the easiest one to do. Sit down on a chair and place the foot of your painful leg over the knee of the other. Once done, do the following:

  • Bend forward as much as you can. If it gets painful, stop immediately. Make sure that your spine is straight.

  • Stay in the position for 30 seconds and repeat the process with the other leg.

8. Standing Piriformis Stretch

Stand against a wall for support and your feet 24 inches away from the wall. Then do the following steps:

  • Place your painful leg over the knee of the other leg. Bend slightly and try to make number 4 while your hips come closer to the ground. Your body should be at a 45-degree angle.

  • Bend your waist slightly down but your back should be straight. Hold the position for about 30 to 60 seconds.

  • Repeat the stretch for the other leg.

9. Groin & Long Adductor Muscle Stretch

To do this stretch properly, sit on the ground and spread your legs out and far apart from each other. Then do the following:

  • Placing your hands in front of you on the floor, get into position.

  • Your torso should be angled to the floor.

  • Leaning towards the floor, place your elbow on the ground and hold the position for 20 seconds. You can stop as soon as you feel discomfort.

10. Scissor Hamstring Stretch

Do this stretch daily to loosen the hamstring muscles that releases the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Here is how to do it:

  • Take your right foot about three feet behind your left foot.

  • Push your shoulders back and hips forward. Keep in mind that your right hip should not be much forward than your left hip. Use a mirror to make this judgement.

  • Place your hands on your hips and use a chair if you need the extra balance.

  • Turn your torso to the left side but keep your back straight. Shift your weight on the front leg.

  • Stay in this position for 5 to 10 seconds and do the same stretch on the opposite leg.

  • Repeat this stretch on each leg for 3 to 5 times.

Be Careful with Each Exercise

Workout with sciatica may seem like a very difficult task but when done carefully, they are very effective. Sciatica pain exercises can relieve pain quickly and bring back the bounce of your walk. Trainers and physicians also suggest foam roller for sciatica to help release the tension in the sciatic nerve.


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