Sciatica plagues many people. However, it is not an illness in and of itself. It is actually a collection of symptoms caused by continuing pressure placed on the sciatic nerve due to any number of reasons.
Some of these causes include:
• Spinal injury
• Spinal tumor
• Spinal stenosis
• Herniated disc
The Sciatic Nerve
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body in terms of length and width. It starts at the lumbar spine and runs through the buttocks and down each leg.
People who suffer from sciatica can experience pain and discomfort through the entire length of this long nerve, meaning the sciatica can lead to pain in the back, buttocks, hips, thighs and the entire leg.
Sciatica can cause much pain and discomfort to those who suffer from it. It can cause various types of unpleasant sensations along the sciatic nerve. Any some of these include:
• Pain along the length of the sciatic nerve-both sudden, sharp, shooting pains or dull pain
• Weakness in the muscles around the nerve
• Pins and needles/tingling sensation
Any of these sensations can be episodic or persistent.
Fortunately, there are ways to relieve some of the discomfort caused by sciatica. One of the most effective ways is through performing various stretches.
Here are 12 of the best stretches to relieve the pain caused by sciatica:
Note: Before you begin, ensure you have consulted with your doctor to confirm it is sciatica and get proper diagnoses as to the exact cause of it. This can determine your course of treatment and help you determine which stretches may be best for you in conjunction with the recommended treatment.
Remember to perform each stretch at your own pace and according to your personal level of fitness and flexibility. Feel free to use a block or any other form of extra support should you struggle with any of the stretches.
1. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is one of the simplest and most effective sciatica poses. It is suitable for beginners and those with not much flexibility.
Kneeling, sit down on your feet and gently lower your forehead to touch the floor. You can also use a block or pillow for support if you cannot manage to get your head to touch the floor.
Get onto all fours, with your hands directly below your shoulders. From here, gently arch your back up and out while inhaling. Then, gently lower your back, push your tailbone out and lift your head as you exhale. Your back should form a concave shape. Repeat this motion, gently, as many times as you need.
3. Lunging Twist
Start in a standing position.
With your left foot, take a big step forward bending the left knee, so that the knee is directly over the top of the ankle. Extend your arms out at your sides.
Lower your torso over your extended knee. Twist until your right arm is parallel to the outside of your left calf, touching the floor and your left arm is pointing up to the ceiling. Hold this position while taking several long deep breaths.
Repeat on the other side.
4. Lotus Pose
Sit on the floor with back straight and legs crossed. Using your hand, gently lift the foot of left leg over to rest on the right thigh.
Hold this for a few deep breaths. If you cannot manage this, then feel free to extend the right leg out in front of you. Repeat on the other side. As you gain enough flexibility in both glutes, attempt to fold both feet over at once.
5. Sitting Spinal Stretch
Sit on floor with legs extended out in front of you. Bend your left leg up towards you and cross it over your right thigh. Twist your torso so that your right elbow rests on the outside of the left knee with your fingers pointing up.
Stretches Lying Down
6. Knee Hugs
Lie on your back and bring both knees up into your chest, gently hugging them into your body with your arms. Hold and breathe deeply for three to five breaths, then release.
7. Supine Twist With One Knee
Lie on your back, with both legs extended and both feet flexed upward.
Bring your right knee up across your body towards your left shoulder. Clasp your hands around your knee and hold it there for at least 30 seconds, while breathing deeply.
Repeat on the other side.
8. Thread the Needle
Lie on your back and bring your feet towards your buttocks so that your knees are raised. Gently lift your right leg up and rest it over your left knee.
Then clasp the top of your left thigh, just above the knee, and pull your left leg up and off the floor so that your left leg is raised, parallel to floor. Breathe deeply while you hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Repeat on the other side.
9. Cobra Stretch
Lie on your stomach with hands flat on the floor parallel to shoulders and head up. Pressing your hands into the floor, lift your head and torso off the ground.
Keep your hips and legs on the ground. Hold this for about 30 seconds, breathing deeply. Then gently bend your elbows to return your torso to the ground.
10. Bow Pose
Lie on your stomach and lift your feet and legs off the ground, towards your buttocks. Grab your feet with your hands behind you. If you can manage it, gently lift your head and shoulders off the ground at the same time. As you gain flexibility, you can gradually try to pull your feet closer to your head behind you.
11. Standing Twist
Stand and place your right leg up onto a chair, knees bent and feet flat on the chair. Then gently twist your torso to the right and place the back of your left hand over the outside of right knee. Hold this for about 30 seconds, breathing deeply. Repeat on the other side.
12. Standing Hamstring Stretch
Stand up straight and then gradually lower your torso and arms to touch your toes. Go as far down as you can manage or use a block until you gain flexibility. Hold this for about 30 seconds, breathing deeply.
Before you begin, it is important to first consult a doctor to get a proper diagnoses of your condition and a full treatment plan.
Remember to work at your own pace and modify the stretches where necessary. These stretches, performed properly and consistently, can go a long way to relieve much of the discomfort of Sciatica. What’s more is that they are also great for your overall health, flexibility and your general well-being.