Sciatica Stretches

| November 5, 2013 | 2 Replies

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.

Causes

The main sciatica cause is a ruptured or protruding disc in the lumbar spine, which puts pressure on the nerves. Due to the subtle nature of those nerves, the examination should be carried out by an experienced medical professional, who will be able to determine if the signs are just attributable to sciatica or, for instance, the problem extends to herniated discs. Apart from the aforementioned common cause, other sciatica reasons include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Unnecessary stress applied on the lower back mainly due to inappropriate sitting position or clumsy lifting of heavy items
  • Pregnancy
  • Sedentary life/obesity

Symptoms

The typical sciatica symptoms are:

  • Pain in the lower back which expands along the sciatic nerves (lower back, buttocks, thighs, even feet and toes in more serious situations)
  • Numbness and weakness sensed in the legs
  • A burning and tingling sensation in the back of the thighs
  • Difficulty in moving one or both legs
  • Discomfort sensed when sitting or running

Sciatica Stretching Exercises

On condition that a seasoned doctor is the authorized person to sketch a treating program, it is generally acceptable that a sciatica stretching routine can relax tight muscles and alleviate from pain and discomfort. That’s why most general practitioners include a stretching regime in their healing approach for sciatica. So, in line with this, below are presented a bunch of sciatica stretches, which aim primarily at mobilizing the sciatic nerve and ameliorating the flexibility of the muscle groups involved. Before trying any of these you should definitely have a careful look at our detailed Guide on Stretching:

  • For start, and given that tight hamstrings may be to blame for the deterioration of the patient’s situation, standing (photo 1) and seated  (photo 2) hamstring stretches (presented here) are usually an integral part of a typical sciatica stretching program.
  • A very simple and effective active/static stretching exercise: Lie pronely on the floor with your legs extended and your elbows bend at the sides of your chest, with the palms touching the floor at head height; now, with the help of your hands and elbows, push your chest (not your neck!) up and backwards (photo 3) – without lifting your legs off the floor – so that you feel a pull in your midsection; hold it there for no more than 15 seconds and slowly drop down to the floor; 7-10 sets of this exercise should be enough.
  • Knee-to-chest stretch (described here).
  • Seated torso twist (photo 4 – analytic description here).
  • A static stretch: Lie supine on the floor with your legs slightly open, your knees bend and your feet in touch with the ground; now, slowly raise your left foot off the floor, grabbing the internal part of your knee with both your palms and pulling towards your chest while gently straightening your leg up (your aim is different from the knee-to-chest stretch in the sense that, here, you do not pull your flexed knee onto your chest); hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and then slowly bend the knee again and go back to the initial position; switch leg an repeat for 2-3 times for each leg (photo 5).
  • A relatively typical yoga stretch, the downward-facing dog pose (photo 6), which significantly nurses lower back and hamstrings: To perform it, get on your palms and knees, with your back aligned, your arms straightened and just ahead of your shoulders, and your knees positioned slightly below your hips; now, fold your toes and begin lifting your body by raising your knees off the ground while simultaneously pushing with your hands; continue by totally extending your legs, thus moving your buttocks up, until your body will form an upside-down “V” letter; you will feel a nice stretch in the hamstrings; hold it there for 15-20 seconds and gently come back to the initial position; perform 8-10 sets of that pose.
  • Other very effective yoga poses for sciatica are the butterfly pose, the pigeon pose etc.; to perform, them properly, it is advisable to consult a skilled yoga trainer.

The photos & video below will definitely help you better understand the aformentioned stretches, but notice that, in order to grab full benefits of the stretches, you should carefully read the exact guidance provide above.

Photos & Videos

standing hamstring stretch for sciatica

Photo 1 – Standing hamstring stretch for sciatica

seated hamstring stretch for sciatica

Photo 2 – Seated hamstring stretch for sciatica

Lower Abs Stretch

Photo 3 – Lower Abs Stretch

seated torso stretch

Photo 4 – Seated torso stretch

hamstring stretch for sciatica

Photo 5 – Another Hamstring stretch for sciatica

downward-facing dog pose

Photo 6 – Downward-facing dog pose

Other Sciatica Treatment Options

Aside from the stretches, there area also some other sciatica treatments which can be implemented by a patient:

  • A complete exercising and strengthening routine focused on the back muscles and the spine so as to better support the sufferer’s back
  • An exercising routine aiming at fortifying the core muscles
  • A cardiovascular exercising routine to enhance physical fitness; this can include walking or mild jogging
  • Maintaining good posture and providing the lower back with proper support throughout the day
  • Rest (in some cases)
Our Advice

Undoubtedly, a diligently scheduled and carefully executed sciatica stretching routine can significantly alleviate the displeasure stemming from this particular disorder. Yet, the sufferer should persistently keep in mind that a stretching program similar to the above presented must be the outcome of meticulous diagnosis (since the exact causes vary) and consultation with an experienced health professional or a physiotherapist expert so as not only to achieve improvement of his / her condition but also to avoid more serious issues in the future!

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Category: Stretches and Diseases

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