5 Stretches to Ease Sciatica

If you’ve ever had sciatica pain you know how debilitating and uncomfortable it can be.

From shooting pain in the buttocks to running pain down the leg, it occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched or compressed.

Sciatica can affect anyone, but most commonly occurs due to a bulging disc, narrowing of the spinal cord space (spinal stenosis) or pressure on the sciatic nerve.

This may occur due to a lack of movement Eg. too much sitting and not enough functional movement like walking, bending and squatting, an injury, weight gain and postural changes like in pregnancy or as we get older, changes in gait and age-related degeneration.

Sciatic pain is often worse when you’re tight and lacking flexibility, have poor mobility or range of motion and have lower levels of physical activity and movement.

If you’re suffering from sciatica pain there are a range of things you can do to help minimise and potentially elimininate it.

Some of the best things you can do to relieve sciatic pain include;

  • Adding in stretches, exercises and functional movements like squatting, sit to stand and activating the glutes and core.
  • Using a heat pack on and around the lower back and glutes to ease tightness and release tension.
  • Massage and release techniques by a qualified professional.
  • Gentle massage release with a massage ball of the lower back and glutes.
  • Gentle exercise like Pilates with a focus on good movement patterns and form.
  • Include daily exercise that focuses on a mix of strength and flexibility.
  • Take regular breaks to move around if sitting for long periods of time.
  • Ensure your desk and computer are set up ergonomically.
  • Working with a qualified health professional like a physiotherapist to build strength and mobility.

If you’re currently suffering from sciatica pain or want to prevent it from occuring, try these 5 stretches in to your daily routine to help reduce pain, ease tightness and improve mobility.

  1. Figure 4 Glute Stretch
Figure 4 Glute Stretch

Great for releasing tightness in the glutes, hips and lower back, the Figure 4 Glute stretch is a great stretch to add in on a daily basis.

Start by lying on your back.

Gently place one foot on your opposite knee. Hold here if you can already feel a stretch otherwise thread your hands through your underneath leg and draw your leg gently towards your chest.

Hold for 30 seconds to 1 min. Repeat on the other leg.

2. Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose

Great for releasing the piriformis muscle (can often be tight and irritated when you have sciatica) start by kneeling down on the floor and sliding one leg forward.

Extend the other leg behind you and gently lower your chest over your front leg.

Hold for 30 seconds to 1 min. Repeat on the other leg.

3. Child’s Pose

Child's Pose

Fantastic for providing some traction for the lower back and opening up the hips, the Child’s Pose stretch can be done at anytime.

Start by kneeling down on to the floor and gently opening the knees wide.

Reach your hands forward along the floor until your arms are fully outstretched.

Hold and breathe for 1 minute.

4. Lower back-knees to chest stretch

When suffering from Sciatica you’ll often find the lower back and hips feels tight. The Knees to Chest Stretch is a great stretch to release tension from these areas.

Start by lying down on to the floor on your back. Gently draw both knees up in to the chest. Hold and breathe for 1 minute.

5. Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch

Opening up the front of the hips and ensuring the front line of the body isn’t too tight can also help release tension and pain from the lower body.

To release your quads simple place your foot a chair, back of a couch or use your hand to grab your foot.

Gently press the foot in towards your glutes until you can feel a stretch through the front of the thigh in the quads.

Hold and breathe for 1 minute. Repeat on the other leg.

Kate Boyle is a qualified Pilates Instructor, Nutritionist and the owner and director of Mind and Movement Pilates in Melbourne, Australia.  She  has over 15yrs of expert experience in the health and movement field. Learn more about her here and connect with her on InstagramFacebook and LinkedIn.

Want more tips on relieving sciatic pain?
Try listening to these helpful podcast episodes:

Episode 28- The Life Changing Benefits of Pilates How They Can Serve You

Episode 26- How to Get Relief from Sciatic Pain and Prevent It

Episode 39- How to Eliminate Lower Back Pain