Sciatica is usually caused by a herniated or protruding disk, which pinches the nerve. The pain typically starts in your lower back and radiates along the sciatic nerve through your hip and butt, and continues down the back of your leg. In some cases you may even experience numbness in your leg or weakness in your foot. A stretching program may help you recover within a matter of weeks. Performing several stretches twice each day can help relax tight muscles and eliminate the symptoms of sciatica. Consult your doctor before starting a stretching program.
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Lying Hamstring Stretch
Regular stretching of the hamstrings can be beneficial in relieving sciatica pain, according to Ron S. Miller, a physical therapist. The hamstrings consist of a group of muscles located at the backs of your upper thighs. Tight, stiff hamstrings can lead to lower back pain and/or sciatica, states Miller. An effective stretch starts with you lying on your back with your right leg extended forward. Lift your left leg, place your hands behind your knee and bend and pull your knee toward your torso until you feel a stretch at the back of your thigh. Slowly straighten your knee to further the stretch. Pause for 10 seconds, relax and repeat with your right leg. Repeat 10 to 12 times. Gradually increase your time to 30 seconds per leg.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
To perform the seated hamstring stretch, sit near the front edge of a sturdy chair that has no wheels. Extend your legs, keep your knees straight and rest your heels on the floor. While keeping your spine straight, reach forward toward your toes until you feel a stretch in the back of your upper legs. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and relax.Repeat 10 times.
The downward-facing dog is a classic yoga pose that can help you reduce sciatica pain by stretching your hamstrings and lower back. To perform this pose, get on your hands and knees, with your knees below your hips and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Tuck your toes under, press your hands into the floor and lift your knees off the floor. Straighten your legs as far as you can until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Your body should look like an upside-down "V." Avoid letting your head sag. Keep it between your upper arms. Hold the pose for 10 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat up to 10 times. Gradually work your way up to 30-second holds.
Relieve sciatica pain with the extended triangle pose. Spread your legs and stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart. Turn your left foot 45 degrees out to the left and keep your right foot pointing straight ahead. Extend and hold your arms out to your sides, parallel to the floor, with your palms down. Exhale as you reach out to the left with your left hand. Bend your left hip, lean your torso to the left side over your left leg and grab your left ankle. Rotate your left ribcage toward the ceiling. Stretch your right hand toward the ceiling and keep your head in a neutral position. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, inhale, reverse your movements and return to the standing position. Reposition your feet and repeat toward the right.
Keep your movements slow and controlled. Avoid bouncing or making any quick, jerking moves. Practice a rhythmic breathing pattern during each stretch. If you are not clear on the proper technique, work with a physical therapist. Stretching should not cause pain, and if you experience pain, stop immediately.