The sciatic nerve runs from the spine, down the back of the thigh and into the leg and foot. When the lumbar bones of the spine and the surrounding soft tissue compress the nerve, pain can travel through your leg, significantly affecting your ability to function. After consulting with your physician, engage in exercises to provide some relief from pinched sciatic nerve pain.
Low Back Stretch
This simple stretching exercise works tense, stiff muscles in the buttocks and lower back. It helps to realign your posture, improve flexibility and range of motion, and reduce the risk of future flare-ups.
Lie supine on an exercise mat. Keep your feet flat on the floor and bend your knees at a 45-degree angle. Tighten your abdominal muscles, inhale and push the small of your back into the mat. Slowly draw your knees toward your chest. Interlock your hands underneath your knees to hold the position. Exhale, stretch for 10 seconds and then release one leg at a time to return to the start position.
The cat stretch targets the lower back as well as the middle back, and can help diminish muscle spasms and pain associated with a pinched sciatic nerve. To start, kneel on all fours. Keep your feet together and arch your back toward the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds, then hollow your back for another 30 seconds.
Tight hamstrings can sometimes result in back tension leading to a pinched sciatic nerve. To help release tension in the midst of a sciatica attack, perform the hamstring stretch while lying on your back. Raise your affected leg up toward the ceiling. With your foot parallel to the ceiling, straighten your knee and hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds until you feel the stretch at the back of your thigh.
Yoga exercises can help alleviate sciatic nerve issues by strengthening leg muscles, improving circulation in the legs and increasing flexibility in the hips. To perform the torso twist, sit sideways on an armless chair with your feet on the floor. Grab the back of the chair with your hands and twist your torso to that side about five times. Stand up, sit on the opposite side of the chair and repeat the movements. Leg raises can also reduce sciatic pain. Lie flat on the floor with your feet against a wall. Place a strap around the foot of your affected side. Pull the strap with your hands so that your leg extends up and out to the side at a 45-degree angle with the floor. Lower your leg and repeat.
- "The American Physical Therapy Association Book of Body Maintenance and Repair"; Marilyn Moffat, Ph.D.; 1999
- "Big Yoga"; Meera Patricia Kerr; 2010
- Spine-Health: Hamstring Stretching Exercises for Sciatic Pain Relief
- "Yoga & Pilates"; Francoise Barbira Freedman, et. al.; 2007
- American Council on Exercise: Nighttime Exercises to Wind Down