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Can Stretching Help Sciatica?

Sciatica is a common problem that may cause pain in your lower back and legs. This condition may be caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or other conditions that compress your sciatic nerve.

If you have sciatica, you may notice pain that radiates from your lower back down your legs. This pain may make it difficult to walk, stand, or even sit. Thankfully, there are several options that may help relieve the symptoms of this condition – including daily stretches. 

The Benefits of Stretching for Sciatica Pain

Light exercise and gentle stretching may help relieve the pain associated with sciatica. In addition, stretching your muscles may increase blood flow and reduce inflammation. This may lead to an improved range of motion and reduced pain.

In addition, stretching may help to improve your posture. This is important because poor posture may be one of the contributing factors to your sciatica pain. Furthermore, stretching may be done in the comfort of your own home and typically does not require any special equipment.

6 Stretches That May Help Relieve Sciatica Pain

By implementing these stretches into your daily routine, you may be able to find some relief from your sciatica pain. However, don’t forget to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

1. Knee to Chest Stretch

Knee to Chest StretchThis stretch works to stretch your lower back and buttocks. These are common problem areas for those suffering from sciatica.

To do this stretch:

  • Lay on your back 
  • Bring your knees up to your chest and place your hands behind your thighs
  • Gently pull your knees towards your chest until you feel a stretch in your lower back and buttocks
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and then release
  • Repeat this 2-3 times

This stretch may be done by working both knees simultaneously or by working one knee at a time. You may also do this stretch while standing and holding onto a sturdy object for support.

If you find this stretch to be too difficult, you may place a pillow under your lower back for added support.

2. Standing Hamstring Stretch

This stretch works to extend the muscles in the back of your leg. Sciatica tends to radiate down the back of your legs, so this stretch is perfect for targeting that area.

To do this stretch:

  • Extend one leg out by placing your heel on a raised surface such as a step or chair
  • Keeping your leg straight, bend at the hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and then release
  • Repeat this stretch on the other side

3. Pigeon Pose

Yoga may be a great way to stretch the muscles and find relief from sciatica. The pigeon pose is a beginner-friendly yoga pose that works to extend the hips, thighs, and glutes.

To do this pose:

  • Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position
  • Bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist
  • Then, bring your right ankle in front of your left hip
  • Slowly lower your hips towards the ground until you feel a stretch in your right hip and thigh
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and then release
  • Repeat on the other side

4. Spinal Twist

One of the main symptoms of sciatica is lower back pain. This stretch helps to target that area and may provide some relief.

To do this stretch:

  • Start by sitting up tall on the ground with your legs extended in front of you
  • Bend your right knee and place your right foot flat on the ground next to your left knee
  • Place your left hand on the ground behind you for support
  • Then, twist your torso to the right until you feel a stretch in your back
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and then release
  • Repeat on the other side

If this seems too challenging, you may modify the stretch by keeping both knees on the floor and gently twisting from side to side.

5. Child’s Pose

This is another beginner-friendly yoga pose that works to stretch the lower back, hips, and thighs.

To do this pose:

  • Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position
  • Then, sit back on your heels and walk your hands forward out in front of you
  • Allow your torso and head to rest on the ground
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and then release

Be sure to incorporate breathing into this stretch by inhaling and exhaling deeply.

6. Cobra Stretch

Cobra StretchThis stretch is perfect for targeting the lower back.

To do this stretch:

  • Lie on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart
  • Place your hands on the ground next to your shoulders
  • Slowly lift your torso and head off of the ground, keeping your hips firmly planted on the ground
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and then release

Exercises To Avoid When Dealing With Sciatica

While these stretches may help provide some relief, there are specific movements that you should avoid if you are dealing with sciatica. High-impact activities and weight-bearing exercises such as squats and deadlifts may aggravate your symptoms and should be avoided until you talk with your medical provider. In the meantime, stick to low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, and walking.

Find Relief from Sciatica with Comprehensive Medical Care

While simple at-home stretches may provide some relief, sometimes you need a more comprehensive approach. At Comprehensive Medical Care, our team of experts will work with you to create a customized treatment plan that fits your needs.

We offer everything from sports medicine to pain management and physical therapy. Request a consultation today to learn more about how we may help you find relief from your sciatica pain.

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