5 Simple Sciatica Stretches For Pain Relief

Published October 01, 2019
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

5-simple-sciatica-stretches-for-pain-relief
<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@type":"BlogPosting", "headline":"5 Simple Sciatica Stretches For Pain Relief", "datePublished":"October 01, 2019", "description":"Dealing with sciatica pain is no joke. Use these 5 simple sciatica stretches to treat your symptoms and rid yourself of pain.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/08/woman-stretch-down-dog-thumbnail-0250.jpg" }, } ] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">What is Sciatica?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">How Long Does it Take for Sciatic Nerve Pain to Go Away?</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Is Walking Good for Sciatic Nerve Pain?</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Can Stretching Irritate Sciatica?</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">5 Simple Sciatic Stretches</a></li> <li><a href="#section6">Sciatica Stretches—Wrapping Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>Dealing with sciatica is no joke. Pain in your lower back, legs, or buttocks can make it hard to go through the day at your very best.</p> <p>Fortunately though, treating sciatic nerve pain doesn’t usually require surgery or other serious treatments. A few simple sciatica stretches and exercises can be an effective way to treat sciatica symptoms.</p> <p>Below we’ll look at what sciatica is, how long it takes before it goes away, and 5 simple stretches you can do to alleviate symptoms right at home.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/senior-bent-pain-back-spine-BW-0250.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/senior-bent-pain-back-spine-BW-0250.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/senior-bent-pain-back-spine-BW-0250.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/senior-bent-pain-back-spine-BW-LR-0250.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="senior-bent-pain-back-spine"> </picture> </section> <section id="section1"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"What is sciatica?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Sciatica is pain or discomfort in your lower back and legs as a result of damage, injury, or inflammation surrounding the sciatic nerve.\n\nYour sciatic nerve is quite long. It runs from your spine, through the glutes and hips, and down both legs.\n\nEveryone experiences sciatica differently. A mild case may only cause a tingling sensation in the lower back, buttocks, or down the legs. More severe cases of sciatic nerve pain include severe pain, numbness, or weakness in the back, butt, or legs down to your knees."}}]}</script> <h2>What is sciatica?</h2> <p><i>Sciatica</i> is pain or discomfort in your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/best-at-home-exercises-for-lower-back-pain" rel="noreferrer">lower back</a> and legs as a result of damage, injury, or inflammation surrounding the <i>sciatic nerve</i>.</p> <p>Your sciatic nerve is quite long. It runs from your spine, through the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/glutes-101-best-exercises-for-your-gluteus-maximus/" rel="noreferrer">glutes</a> and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/5-exercises-for-hip-pain" rel="noreferrer">hips</a>, and down both legs <sup>1</sup>. </p> <p>Everyone experiences sciatica differently. A mild case may only cause a tingling sensation in the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/best-at-home-exercises-for-lower-back-pain" rel="noreferrer">lower back</a>, buttocks, or down the legs. More severe cases of sciatic nerve pain include severe pain, numbness, or weakness in the back, butt, or legs down to your knees <sup>1</sup>.</p> <h3>What causes sciatica?</h3> <p>Sciatic nerve pain happens for several reasons. The most common cause is a herniated disk in your lumbar spine (lower back) <sup>2</sup>. But the causes of sciatica range widely. </p> <p>Here are a few examples:</p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/5-simple-chair-exercises-for-everyday-fitness/" rel="noreferrer">Too much sitting</a> or heavy lifting at work</li> <li>Tight muscles that compress the nerve, leading to symptoms of sciatica <sup>3</sup>.</li> <li>Rare diseases like spondylolisthesis (a spinal disease)</li> </ul> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/spine-diagram-drawings-anatomy-0250.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/spine-diagram-drawings-anatomy-0250.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/spine-diagram-drawings-anatomy-0250.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/spine-diagram-drawings-anatomy-LR-0250.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="spine-diagram-drawings-anatomy"> </picture> </section> <section id="section2"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"How long does it take for sciatic nerve pain to go away?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Here’s the good news: if you’re suffering from sciatica, it usually goes away after a few weeks.\n\nReally bad cases of sciatic nerve pain may prompt your physician to suggest surgery or steroid injections into the spine. But most doctors try to avoid that.\n\nFortunately, simple treatments like cold compresses, heating pads, stretching and exercising are effective treatments for getting rid of pain in many cases."}}]}</script> <h2>How long does it take for sciatic nerve pain to go away?</h2> <p>Here’s the good news: if you’re suffering from sciatica, it usually goes away after a few weeks <sup>4</sup>.</p> <p>Really bad cases of sciatic nerve pain may prompt your physician to suggest surgery or steroid injections into the spine <sup>4</sup>. But most doctors try to avoid that. </p> <p>Fortunately, simple treatments like cold compresses, heating pads, stretching and exercising are effective treatments for getting rid of pain in many cases <sup>5</sup>.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-walking-calf-leg-feet-back-sneakers-park-outdoor-0250.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-walking-calf-leg-feet-back-sneakers-park-outdoor-0250.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-walking-calf-leg-feet-back-sneakers-park-outdoor-0250.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-walking-calf-leg-feet-back-sneakers-park-outdoor-LR-0250.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="woman-walking-calf-leg-feet"> </picture> </section> <section id="section3"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Is walking good for sciatic nerve pain?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Yes! Actually, depending on how severe the pain is, many doctors prefer you treat your pain with low-impact exercise instead of bed rest."}}]}</script> <h2>Is walking good for sciatic nerve pain?</h2> <p>Yes! Actually, depending on how severe the pain is, many doctors prefer you treat your pain with <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/everything-to-know-about-low-impact-exercise/" rel="noreferrer">low-impact exercise</a> instead of bed rest <sup>6</sup>.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/10-reasons-why-walking-is-the-best-exercise" rel="noreferrer">Walking</a> is great for sciatica for two reasons. </p> <ol> <li>Walking releases endorphins. Endorphins are natural chemicals released by the nervous system when you exercise <sup>7</sup>. </li> <p>Not only are they responsible for the “runner’s high” you feel at the end of a good workout, but they’re also a proven natural pain and stress killer.</p> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/10-reasons-why-walking-is-the-best-exercise" rel="noreferrer">Walking</a> can also reduce inflammation around the spine <sup>8</sup>. </li> <p>It’s important to stand tall and engage your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/3-core-exercises-for-seniors-to-improve-stability" rel="noreferrer">core</a> when you’re <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/10-reasons-why-walking-is-the-best-exercise" rel="noreferrer">walking</a> with sciatica. Hunching over might make walking painful as you’re dealing with the nerve pain <sup>8</sup>.</p> </ol> </section> <section id="section4"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Can stretching irritate sciatica?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Many people suffering from sciatica find relief from stretching. But we can’t say yes or no definitively. It’s important to know what’s causing your sciatic nerve pain before you start stretching.\n\nIf you have a herniated disk in your lower back, some stretches might put your back in a less compromised position. Alternatively, if it’s just a tight muscle in your leg or hips, stretching might rid you of your symptoms.\n\nAsk your doctor before you start stretching to make sure it won’t exacerbate your symptoms. And when you begin stretching, remember to start slow. Stretching should feel somewhat uncomfortable but not painful, and will be providing relief if done properly.."}}]}</script> <h2>Can stretching irritate sciatica?</h2> <p>Many people suffering from sciatica find relief from stretching. But we can’t say yes or no definitively. It’s important to know <i>what’s causing</i> your sciatic nerve pain before you start stretching. </p> <p>If you have a herniated disk in your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/best-at-home-exercises-for-lower-back-pain" rel="noreferrer">lower back</a>, some stretches might put your back in a less compromised position. Alternatively, if it’s just a tight muscle in your leg or hips, stretching might rid you of your symptoms.</p> <p><i>Ask your doctor</i> before you start stretching to make sure it won’t exacerbate your symptoms. And when you begin stretching, remember to start slow. Stretching should feel somewhat uncomfortable but not painful, and will be providing relief if done properly.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section5"> <h2>5 simple sciatic stretches</h2> <h3>1. Diaphragmatic Breathing</h3> <p>Breathing isn’t stretching, but breathing from your diaphragm (belly) helps the muscles in your core relax <sup>9</sup>. </p> <p>And actually, if you breathe in and out from your chest often (stressed out people do this without realizing it), other <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/3-core-exercises-for-seniors-to-improve-stability" rel="noreferrer">muscles in your core</a> are forced to help exhale air out of your lungs in an unnatural way. This can cause tightness in your back, which might lead to other symptoms.</p> <p>Here are two options.</p> <ol> <li>Try <i>prone breathing</i>, which just means lying on your belly with your hands folded on your forehead. Take deep belly breaths for one to two minutes.</li> <li>Try <a target="_blank" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lchYzXJUHLM&feature=youtu.be" rel="noreferrer"><i>elevators</i></a>. This breathing exercise can be done right in bed and is one of our keys for <a target="_blank" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lchYzXJUHLM&feature=youtu.be" rel="noreferrer">instant sciatica pain relief</a>.</li> </ol> <h3>2. Cobra push-ups</h3> <p>Simply do pushups into an “upward dog” or cobra yoga pose. This goes against the rules of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/how-to-do-perfect-squats-and-pushups" rel="noreferrer">normal pushups</a> where you hold a steady <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/plank-exercises-to-activate-your-core/" rel="noreferrer">plank</a> when you rise from the ground, but this variation will stretch out the muscles in your lumbar spine.</p> <p>Do 3 sets of 10 push-ups here, pausing at the top to let your spine stretch.</p> <h3>3. Hollow holds</h3> <p>The <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/5-exercises-for-hip-pain" rel="noreferrer">hips</a> connect your lower and upper body muscles, and the sciatic nerve runs through them all. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/3-core-exercises-for-seniors-to-improve-stability" rel="noreferrer">Stabilizing your core</a> can help take pressure off your back.</p> <p>You can practice hollow holds on your back or in a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/plank-exercises-to-activate-your-core/" rel="noreferrer">plank</a>. Here are the keys to a good hollow hold on your back.</p> <ul> <li>Lying on your back, “glue” your rib cage to the floor. Your abs should be flexed.</li> <li>In a hollow hold, your arms go over your head and legs raise off the floor. Lock your left and right knee. Keep your rib cage glued to the floor.</li> <li>Gently rock back and forth or hold still as an isometric exercise.</li> </ul> <h3>4. Standing backbends</h3> <p>Place your hands on your lumbar spine (right above your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/glutes-101-best-exercises-for-your-gluteus-maximus/" rel="noreferrer">glutes</a>). Make sure your feet are planted firmly on the ground. Push into your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/best-at-home-exercises-for-lower-back-pain" rel="noreferrer">lower back</a> and lean backward. From the side, your spine should start to look like a ‘C’. For extra caution, stand in front of a couch or padded area as you lean back. </p> <p>Go slow with your back bends. Let your whole spine, including your neck, relax. Inch by inch, try to look at the wall behind you. If you can only go back a few inches, start there and work up over time.</p> <p>Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat throughout the day.</p> <h3>5. Pigeon stretch</h3> <p>Tight butt muscles not only cause <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/5-stretches-for-IT-band" rel="noreferrer">IT band syndrome</a> and sleepy <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/glutes-101-best-exercises-for-your-gluteus-maximus/" rel="noreferrer">glutes</a>, but may be responsible for your sciatica.</p> <p>To do pigeon stretch, place the outside of your thigh and knee on the ground in a split position. Your foot will be extended beyond the leg, top side down. Your other leg should be bent in front of you, so that your outer thigh and calf are on the ground. This leg wraps around, so that your outer foot lands near your opposite groin area. Slowly lean forward. Be gentle because this might be tight.</p> <p>Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds on each leg. Repeat twice.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-pigeon-stretch-0250.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-pigeon-stretch-0250.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-pigeon-stretch-0250.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-pigeon-stretch-LR-0250.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="woman-pigeon-stretch"> </picture> <section id="section6"> <h2>Sciatica stretches—wrapping up</h2> <p>Unfortunately sciatica makes it difficult to feel and perform your best. But luckily, most cases of sciatica can be treated with a few simple stretches or some <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/everything-to-know-about-low-impact-exercise/" rel="noreferrer">low-impact exercise</a> like <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/10-reasons-why-walking-is-the-best-exercise" rel="noreferrer">walking</a>. </p> <p>Be sure to consult your doctor before using these stretches. And if you are stretching, make sure it’s not causing pain. We want you to make progress and not do any further damage, so you can get back to looking and feeling your best! </p> <h3>Resources:</h3> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/sciatica" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Everything You Need to Know About Sciatica</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/what-is-sciatica#1" rel="nofollow noreferrer">What Is Sciatica? </a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/sciatica#risk-factors" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Risk factors for developing sciatica</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/taming-pain-sciatica-people-time-heals-less-2017071212048" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Taming the pain of sciatica</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/sciatica#treatment" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Treatment options for sciatica</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.spine-health.com/blog/4-commonly-overlooked-sciatica-remedies" rel="nofollow noreferrer">4 Commonly Overlooked Sciatica Remedies</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320839.php" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Endorphins: Effects and how to increase levels</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.spine-health.com/blog/2-walking-tips-avoid-sciatica-pain" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2 Walking Tips to Avoid Sciatica Pain</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/diaphragmatic-breathing#benefits" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Diaphragmatic breathing benefits</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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