Sciatica – Two key stretches to help ease your sciatic pain!
Sciatica is the term used to describe pain that shoots or radiates along the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve travels from the lower back, through the buttocks and down the leg. We’re going to look at two specific stretches in the buttocks region to help ease sciatica.
When the sciatic nerve is aggravated or compressed it can cause pain, discomfort and disturb daily living.
Sciatica can be described in many ways, some of which include:
- Pain in one side of the buttock/bum area
- Pain aggravated when sitting or inactive
- Sensations down the leg described as shooting, tingling, burning or numbness
- Pain that radiates down the leg
- Weakness or difficulty moving the leg/foot.
How Many Times a Day Should You Do Sciatica Stretching Exercises?
How often you do sciatica stretching exercises can often vary depending on the severity of your sciatica.
However, in general, it’s beneficial to perform sciatica stretching exercises at least two to three times a day.
This may involve doing some static stretches in the morning, shown in the video below.
It may also involve more dynamic stretching throughout the day where static stretching may not be achievable, based on where you are or what you’re doing.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t force a stretch and should always ease into it gradually.
As always, it’s best to speak with a health specialist to determine how often you should be doing your sciatic specific stretches.
We run a range of wellbeing workshops and webinars, to help companies support the health and wellbeing of their employees.
Educational workshops and webinars help to provide the necessary information to prevent issues like Sciatica.
Sciatica stretch 1
The first stretch we’re going to look at is a glute stretch. As mentioned above, the sciatic nerve runs through the buttock region and by stretching the buttocks, it can help to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve, reducing the symptoms of your sciatica. It’s important when holding this stretch to hold for a minimum of 30 seconds. Ideally 30 – 60 seconds. This allows enough time for the muscles to respond to the stretch. Attempt this stretch 3-5 times throughout the day.
To perform this stretch you must be laying on your back on a firm surface. You must then aim to pull your knee toward your chest. You should be trying to pull your knee towards your opposite shoulder. For example, if you are stretching your right side, you will be trying to pull your right knee towards your left shoulder.
Sciatica stretch 2
The second stretch we’re going to look at is the piriformis stretch. The piriformis is a muscle located deep in the buttocks. The sciatic nerve runs directly through this muscle so stretching it may help to provide some relief on the sciatic nerve.
Similar to the glute stretch, to perform this stretch you must be laying on your back on a firm surface. If stretching the left side, you must attempt to cross your left leg over your right leg, whilst attempting to pull your right leg towards your chest. This is quite a difficult stretch to perform but the more you do it, the easier it will become. Just like all static stretching it’s important to hold the stretch for 30 – 60 seconds. Attempt this stretch 3-5 times throughout the day.
Other methods of sciatic relief
If you’re suffering with sciatica, it’s best to seek the advice of a professional. Visiting your GP is a good start but also visiting a specialist such as a physical therapist is beneficial.
Other natural healing options include:
- Heat and ice therapy
Heat can help to increase blood flow around the area of discomfort causing the muscles to loosen, therefore relieving the pressure on the sciatic nerve. A hot bath may provide temporary relief as it relaxes your muscles. Ice helps to temporarily turn off nerve receptors which can help with pain and discomfort. Ice won’t help much with reducing the restriction but it’s likely that it will provide some pain relief.
- Low impact dynamic exercise
Movement with low impact exercise may also help your sciatica. Performing exercise helps to increase blood flow to your muscles and reduce restriction. This reduction in restriction may help to reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve, therefore reducing the symptoms of your sciatica.
Foam rolling is a fantastic method in helping to reduce muscular tightness and restriction. If your sciatica is being caused by muscular restriction, then reducing the restriction by foam rolling is a great way to help. Click on the “Foam rolling” link above to visit our blog on foam rolling. There are videos which are suitable and foam rolling the glute specifically should help to ease the muscular restriction, which may be causing your sciatica.
If you feel that you’re suffering with sciatica, it’s always best to seek the advice of a professional who can advise on what’s best in order to help. However, the above stretches are safe movements that you can try, in order to help ease your sciatica and discomfort.
For more information on Sciatica check out our blog on “Sciatica | What You Need To Know“