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12 Best Sciatica Exercises And Stretches For Pain Relief

by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
12 Best Sciatica Exercises And Stretches For Pain Relief June 14, 2018

Sciatica refers to the nerve pain that is generated from the lower back and extends to the back of the legs and the feet (1). It is caused due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve – the largest nerve in your body (2). According to Harvard Medical School, 40% of people may get sciatica once in their life (3). Sciatica may be caused due to herniated or slipped disk, aging, injury, lumbar stenosis, and rarely, tumors (4). With proper medical treatment and physical therapy, you can be completely free of this numbing pain (5). Read on to know about the 12 best stretches and exercises for sciatica. But first, let’s check out the most common symptoms of sciatica. Swipe up!

Common Symptoms Of Sciatica

Here are the most common symptoms of sciatica:

  • Tingling sensation in the legs
  • Backache that radiates down to your knees
  • Numbness and weakness of the lower back, hips, and legs
  • Difficulty in walking, running or moving the leg
  • Difficulty in standing up
  • Hip pain

Now, let’s look at the stretches you must do to reduce the sciatica pain.

12 Effective Sciatica Pain Relieving Exercises And Stretches

1. Seated Pigeon Pose

How To Do The Seated Pigeon Pose
  1. Sit on a mat with your knees flexed. Lean back and support your upper body by placing your fingertips on the mat diagonally behind you.
  2. Lift your right leg and place it on your left knee. Make sure your right ankle is on top of your left knee.
  3. Gently sway your left leg from left to right.
  4. Do this 10 times before switching legs.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 10 reps on each side.

2. Reclining Pigeon Pose

How To Do The Reclining Pigeon Pose
  1. Lie down on your back on a mat. Keep both your knees flexed, and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Flex your left knee, and place your left shin on your right knee.
  3. Lift your right leg off the floor, place both your palms on the back of your right thigh and pull the right knee close to your chest.
  4. Place your left palm on your left knee. Push your left knee, and pull your right thigh.
  5. Hold it for 10 seconds.
  6. Do the same on the other side as well.
Sets And Reps

2 sets of 5 reps.

3. Knee To Opposite Shoulder

How To Do The Knee To Opposite Shoulder
  1. Lie down on your back. Flex your right knee. Hug your right leg with both your hands and bring it close to your chest. Keep your toes pointed.
  2. Pull your knee toward the left side of your chest.
  3. Hold this for 10 seconds and then get back to the starting position.
  4. Do the same with your left leg.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 5 reps on each side.

4. Cat And Cow Pose

How To Do The Cat And Cow Pose
  1. Assume the Table Pose.
  2. Inhale and drop the belly down but keep your hips and upper back up toward the ceiling. Lift your head and look forward.
  3. Exhale and drop your neck down. Stretch the middle of your back up toward the ceiling. Make sure your shoulders are round and drawn toward your ears.
Sets And Reps

2 sets of 10 reps.

5. Seated Crossover Hamstring Stretch

How To Do The Seated Crossover Hamstring Stretch
  1. Sit on a mat with your legs extended forward.
  2. Cross your right leg over the outside of your left leg. Place your right foot close to your left knee.
  3. Wrap your left hand around the outside of your back, and place your right hand on your left side, diagonally in front of your right leg.
  4. Bend and bring your head close to the right knee.
  5. Hold this pose for 10 seconds.
  6. Repeat on the other side.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 10 seconds hold on each side.

6. Seated Spinal Twist

How To Do The Seated Spinal Twist
  1. Sit on a mat with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Flex your right knee and cross your right leg over the outside of your left leg. Keep your left foot flexed.
  3. Place your right fingertips on the mat behind you, and hug your right knee close to your chest with your left arm.
  4. Inhale and lengthen your back. Exhale and twist to your right.
  5. For a deeper stretch, bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee, and twist to your right.
  6. Hold this pose for 10 seconds.
  7. Do this on the other side as well.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 10 seconds hold on each side.

7. Forward Pigeon Pose

How To Do The Forward Pigeon Pose
  1. Assume the Table Pose.
  2. Bring your left ankle close to your right wrist. Slide your right leg back. Make sure your toes are pointing out.
  3. Bring your lower left leg close to your groin.
  4. Taking the support of the floor, straighten your back.
  5. Inhale and exhale 10 times before releasing the pose.
  6. Do this on the other side as well.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 10 seconds hold on each side.

8. Shell Stretch

How To Do The Shell Stretch
  1. Kneel down and sit on your heels. Keep your toes pointed out, and place your palms close to your knees.
  2. Lean forward and bring your chest close to your knees. Keep your back straight, and look at the mat.
  3. Push your upper back up toward the ceiling without lifting your hands, neck, and hips.
  4. Hold this pose for 10 seconds.
Sets And Reps

5 sets of 10 seconds hold.

9. Reclined Cow Face Pose

How To Do The Reclined Cow Face Pose
  1. Lie down on your back. Flex your knees and bring them close to your chest. Cross your right leg over your left, place the respective hand on the respective shin, and hold. Feel the stretch in your lower back and glutes.
  2. After 10 seconds, place your hands on each foot, and hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Do the same by crossing your left leg over the right.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 10-20 seconds hold.

10. Supine Butterfly

How To Do The Supine Butterfly
  1. Lie down on your back. Bring the soles of your feet together by flexing both your knees. Once the soles are joined (like a Namastey!), pull your feet a little up so that you feel the stretch in your thigh and groin area.
  2. Keep your hands by your side, and palms flat on the floor. Engage your core, and without lifting your feet off the floor, lift your knees toward the ceiling.
  3. Pause for a second and then push your knees down back to the starting position.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 12 reps.

11. Prone Torso Twist

How To Do The Prone Torso Twist
  1. Lie down on a mat with your hands by your side, and palms flat on the mat.
  2. Flex your right knee, keep your right foot flat on the floor, and twist your body to the left.
  3. Keep your left leg straight, look toward your left, keep your right hand on the floor, and count to 10.
  4. Get back to the starting position and do the same on the other side.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 2 reps on each side.

12. Hip Stretch

How To Do The Sciatica Hip Stretch
  1. Lie down on your belly on a mat. Rest your head on a pillow. Keep your hands close to the pillow, and palms flat on the floor.
  2. Flex your right knee so that the lower leg and the thigh are perpendicular to each other.
  3. Gently push your hip up so that your thigh is off the floor.
  4. Hold this pose for a moment and then lower your hip back to the floor.
  5. Do this five times before switching legs.
Sets And Reps

3 sets of 5 reps with each leg.

Tip: Do not lift your hips so high that your lower abs are lifted off the floor.

These are the 12 best sciatica pain relieving exercises. But how can these exercises help relieve pain? Find out in the following section.

How Do These Exercises Help Relieve Sciatica Pain?

The exercises target your lower back, glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, and abs. They help soothe the sciatic nerve, strengthen your spine, and improve the flexibility of your joints. This, in turn, speeds up the healing process. Doing these exercises will also help improve your mood, and the “feel good” hormones released will help reduce pain perception.

Remember, if you have sciatica, you MUST consult a doctor. Apart from these exercises and stretches, there are other ways to treat sciatica. Here’s what you can do.

Other Treatment Options For Sciatica

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Massage
  • Medications

You can opt for any of these along with medicines or go for surgery. But you have to be careful while doing these exercises to prevent aggravating the pain. Here’s a list of what you should take care of while doing these exercises.

Precautions

  • Be slow and gentle if you are doing these exercises for the first time.
  • Exercise every day.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Maintain good posture.
  • Take supplements for vitamins D and K after consulting your doctor.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Take rest and sleep for 7 hours.

There you have it – 12 exercises and a few tips to help improve sciatica pain. Do these regularly, and you will see good results for real. Make sure you talk to your doctor before doing any of these exercises. Take care!

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Charushila is an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition and a full-time contributor to Diet & Weight Loss at Stylecraze. She believes that food has healing powers and eating good food is the best way to lose weight. A binge eater-turned-fitness enthusiast, Charushila likes to share her knowledge and experience with the world. When she is not working, she loves to cook healthy food, watch movies, travel, workout, and read Bengali literature.