Symptoms of leg pain, including tingling, numbness, or weakness that originate in the lower back, move through the torso and into the leg, causing a condition known as sciatica (or sciatic nerve pain).
Causes of sciatica include:
- Lumbar herniated disk
- Spinal injury
- Muscle strain
- Degenerative disk disease
Sometimes, rest is not the best form of recovery. In fact, with sciatic pain, a lack of exercise and inactivity can actually trigger the pain and make it worse. Sciatica pain can be moderate or extremely intense for some individuals, but regardless, is an uncomfortable feeling for anyone to go through.
Fortunately, there are many exercises and stretches that you can do to help alleviate pain and provide relief.
Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief
Exercises specific to sciatica pain work to reduce the sciatic pain and provide conditioning to prevent symptoms of pain that could occur in the future.
1. Bird Dog Pose
- Get on your hands and knees with arms stacked over your wrists and knees hip-width distance apart.
- Make sure your hips and shoulders are squared off and your core will be tight.
- As you focus on stability, simultaneously extend your left arm out and your right leg back.
- Pause for 3 seconds and as you bring your arm and leg back to starting position, alternate to the opposite sides.
- Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.
2. Low Impact Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercises such as walking and swimming will not only get your heart rate up but can provide your body some relief from sciatica pain. The low impact exercise helps to encourage a healthy flow of fluids and nutrients, while the endorphins released during exercise work as natural painkillers.
Additionally, cardiovascular exercises that increase our heart rate work to strengthen our heart muscles, which can protect us from a heart attack and stroke in the future.
3. Standing Hamstring Stretch
Our hamstrings are found at the back of our thighs. Stretching exercises that relax the hamstrings are essential to preventing tightness that can lead to stress and symptoms of sciatica.
- You will need an elevated surface (chair, steps, table) that reaches your knees for this exercise.
- Standing tall, extend your right leg and place your right foot on the elevated surface just below your hips with your leg straight and your toes flexed. You have the option to have a slight bend in your knee if your knee tends to hyperextend.
- Gently start to bend your body towards your foot and perform a deep stretch as far as you can go. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, or feel pain, take that as a sign to complete your stretch.
- Your hips will be pulled downwards; make sure it doesn’t start to lift up.
- Hold the hamstring stretch for 20 seconds and repeat the exercise on the alternate side.
4. Knee to Opposite Shoulder
A simple, yet effective stretch to alleviate sciatica pain. Knee stretches can also strengthen the knees and protect their mobility.
- Start by lying on your back with your legs extended and your toes flexed towards the ceiling
- Starting on the right side, bend your right knee and use your arms to pull your right leg towards your left shoulder. The stretching exercise should feel comfortable; only stretch your leg as far as you can go.
- Hold this pose for 20 seconds and return to the starting position.
- Repeat this exercise for 30 seconds, then switch to the left side to even out the exercise on both sides.
The content of this Website is for is for informational purposes only, is general in nature and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and does not constitute professional advice. The information on this Website should not be considered as complete and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise, weight loss, or health care program and/or any of the beauty treatments.
Hochschuler, S. H. (n.d.). Sciatica Causes. Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/sciatica-causes