7 Simple Stretches and Exercises for Sciatica

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Sciatic nerve pain can be debilitating, keeping you from being productive and doing the things you love. When you're in pain, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising. But certain gentle exercises and stretches can help alleviate sciatic nerve pain and restore pain-free functional movement. Learn more about sciatica, and try these seven simple exercises to relieve sciatic nerve pain and discomfort.

About Sciatic Nerve Pain

The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the human body, so when it gets impinged, entrapped or compressed, it can be quite painful. The nerve descends from your brain down your spinal column, and its roots branch out from your lower vertebrae, fusing together before traveling down your lower limbs, all the way to your feet.

The size and location of the sciatic nerve make it vulnerable to irritation, since it must glide around and between multiple structures on its way to your legs and feet. Injury and inflammation can cause the nerve to become compressed or entrapped anywhere along its path, causing pain and restricting free movement. The following stretches for lower back pain can help take pressure off your sciatic nerve and help it to glide freely again.

Before You Begin

Before you stretch to relieve lower back pain, let's review some basics for safe and effective exercise:

●      Move slowly and with control

●      Sync your breath with your movement

●      Pay attention to feedback from your body, and stop if pain becomes sharp or unbearable

●      Engage your core muscles to protect your spine

The Sciatica Seven

These seven exercises are often prescribed to patients suffering from sciatica, and should provide some pain relief.

1.    Angry cat (also called cat-cow)

●      Begin on hands and knees with a flat back

●      Align your knees directly beneath your hips, wrists under shoulders

●      Exhale and draw your navel toward your spine as you arch your back like a cat

●      Inhale and drop your navel toward the floor as your lift your head and tailbone toward the ceiling

●      Repeat 5-10 times

2.    Contralateral quadruped stretch

●      Begin on hands and knees with a flat back

●      Align your knees directly beneath your hips, wrists under shoulders

●      Extend your left leg behind you parallel to the floor, foot flexed

●      Slowly reach forward with your right arm until fully extended

●      Hold for 5-10 seconds, breathing naturally through your nose

●      Repeat with right leg/left arm

●      Perform 3-5 repetitions on each side

3.    Superman

●      Lie face-down on the floor, arms extended overhead

●      Inhale and simultaneously lift your right arm and left leg

●      Hold briefly for 3-5 seconds

●      Exhale and slowly lower to the floor

●      Repeat with left arm/right leg

●      Perform 5-10 repetitions on each side

4.    Supine bridge

●      Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, palms down next to your hips

●      Exhale and press down with your palms and heels as your lift your hip bones toward the ceiling

●      Hold 3-5 seconds

●      Inhale and slowly return to the start position

●      Repeat 5-10 times

5.    Alternating knee tuck

●      Lie on your back, legs extended, arms at your sides

●      Lift your head and tuck your chin fist-width from your chest as you draw your right knee to your chest

●      Hug and hold for 5 seconds

●      Slowly return to your start position

●      Alternate left and right legs for 5-10 repetitions

6.    Sciatic nerve flossing

●      Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor

●      Tuck your chin and grasp your left leg just above the knee, pulling it toward your chest.

●      Straighten your left knee and flex your foot as you extend your leg toward the ceiling

●      Hold for 5 seconds

●      Bend your knee and slowly return to your start position

●      Repeat with the right leg

●      Perform 5 repetitions

7.    Cobra

●      Lie face-down on the floor, elbows bent, wrists under shoulders, toes pointed

●      Inhale and lift your head, then push off with your palms to lift your torso off the floor

●      Breathe normally and hold for 5-10 seconds

●      Slowly lower to your start position

●      Repeat 3-5 times

A chiropractor or physical therapist can give you additional lower back stretches for pain, along with other therapies to relieve your sciatic nerve pain. You can learn more about effective drug-free low back pain treatment by following this link.

Avoiding Sciatica and Low Back Pain

Staying in shape, paying attention to posture, maintaining a strong core and managing your weight are important strategies for avoiding sciatica pain. Physical therapy can help you learn to move in ways that protect your lower spine and sciatic nerve. If you are suffering from sciatic nerve pain, a physical therapist or chiropractor can help you relieve pain and restore functional pain-free movement.

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