Sciatica happens when your sciatic nerve gets irritated or inflamed, resulting in symptoms like pain and feelings of pins and needles. Your sciatic nerve runs from your lower back down both of your legs.
At Performance Pain & Sports Medicine, Dr. Matthias Wiederholz and Dr. Suzanne Manzi can help with your sciatica. Our team offers a full range of treatments from our locations in Houston and League City, Texas, and Lawrenceville, New Jersey.
Sometimes, sciatica requires more extensive intervention, including surgery. However, starting with noninvasive, conservative approaches like physical therapy and targeted stretching makes sense for most patients, and is what our providers most often suggest as a treatment plan.
Here are some stretches we recommend for patients with sciatica. Many start from a seated position. Don’t worry, stretching is a gentle way to relieve your symptoms!
1. Seated stretch
Start seated in a chair. Cross the leg that’s affected by sciatica pain over your other knee. Keeping your back straight, bend forward. Stop bending when you feel increased pain and hold for 30 seconds. Then, repeat with your other leg.
2. Seated glute stretch
Stretch your legs straight out in front of you. Bending your right leg, place your right ankle on top of your left knee. Then, lean forward to bring your upper body closer to your thigh and hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side to effectively stretch your lower back and glutes.
3. Seated spinal stretch
Start sitting on the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you. Flex your feet upward. Then, bend your right knee, positioning your foot on the floor outside of your opposite knee. Your foot should be flat.
To turn your body to the right, put your left elbow outside your right knee. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat two more times, and then switch position to stretch your body to the left side.
This stretch relieves pressure on your sciatic nerve and creates more space in your spine.
4. Knee to the opposite shoulder stretch
Start this stretch lying flat on your back on the ground. Use a yoga mat if you need a little padding.
Extending your legs upward, flex your feet. Then, bend your right leg so that you can clasp your hands around your right knee. Using gentle pressure, stretch your right leg toward your left shoulder.
Stop and hold for 30 seconds when you reach the point in the stretch where it becomes uncomfortable. Finally, gently push your knee back into the starting position. Repeat three times, then switch sides.
You can use this stretch to release tension in your gluteal and piriformis muscles, taking pressure off your sciatic nerve.
5. Standing hamstring stretch
Start in a standing position, with your right foot elevated on a surface at about the level of your hips or a little below. A chair works great as a support for this leg stretch. Stair steps are another useful option.
Flex your right foot, bringing your toes and leg into a straight alignment. You may need to maintain a slight bend at your knee to avoid hyperextending. Then, bend forward. Stop when the stretch is active but not painful and hold for at least 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
This stretch eases and extends your hamstring muscle in the back of your legs and can effectively address sciatica pain.
For the support you need to recover from sciatica symptoms, contact Performance Pain & Sports Medicine today. Schedule an appointment by contacting us online, or call our location most convenient to you.