Many people suffer from sciatica pain, and those of you who do know that it can be debilitating. Sciatica pain can be extreme, but luckily, there are many stretches to lighten up the pain. Let’s discuss five stretching exercises for sciatica pain relief!
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, through your hips, buttocks, and down both of your legs. So, when someone’s sciatica flairs up, there is a lot of surface area for the pain to radiate along the nerve. There are several causes of sciatic pain.
Herniated Disk in Lumbar
Research has proved that herniated disks are the primary reason for sciatica discomfort. The reason behinds this stems from the herniated disk compressing one or more nerves in your spine. Pain can come from disks in two different ways.
Direct Compression of the said nerve can affect either one or both legs at once. This is dependent on how the disk compresses the nerve. Another way for the sciatica nerve to be affected by disks is through chemical leakage. An acidic chemical is known as hyaluronan can leak and, upon contact with the nerve, causes irritation and inflammation.
Other risk factors that can lead to sciatica pain:
- Lower back injury
- Normal wear and tear
- Obesity / overweight
- Weak core muscles
- Active occupations
- Sedentary lifestyle
Pregnancy can cause sciatica because of either the fetus or the uterus. Sometimes the fetus, as it’s growing, can press up against the sciatic nerve and cause irritation and inflammation, leading to pain. The other way is through uterus expansion. As it expands, it adds pressure on the nerve, resulting in pain.
How Does Stretching Help Sciatica?
Before we begin, let’s be clear. These stretches aren’t for your sciatic nerve; they are targeted at the muscles around the nerve. By stretching the muscle groups around the nerve, you strengthen them as well. Sciatica stretching can help alleviate nerve pain and doing so routinely can help prevent future pain.
Top 5 Sciatica Stretches
All of the following stretches are fantastic for dealing with sciatica discomfort. Keep in my that one set of these isn’t enough. Do the one that helps you a couple of times throughout the day. Generally, twice a day is an excellent place to start.
Sit near the edge of a four-legged chair and cross your afflicted leg over the other. Once done, keep a straight posture, and lean forward. If you aren’t feeling any pain, try leaning a little further and hold it for half a minute. However, if you feel pain, stop immediately.
The chair stretch helps to loosen up the hips, leg, and lower back, making this an all-around great option to mitigate pain. Easy to do at home or on the go, be sure to add this stretch to your daily routine.
The supine piriformis stretch requires you to be lying on your back. Place the leg’s foot that isn’t experiencing pain directly on the floor, so your knee faces the sky. Take the other portion and cross it over your bent leg, pulling it further until you feel it in your glutes. Hold this for 30 seconds.
Sit on the floor with both legs spread out and angled away, almost like you’re doing a split. Place your hands on the floor and reach out until your elbows can rest comfortably on the ground. This should be held for about 20 seconds.
While it won’t turn you into a snake, the cobra stretch can help you shed pain like a snake shedding its skin. The cobra stretch involves laying on your stomach and pushing your torso up. If you make yourself look like a cobra, you’re doing it right.
Knees to Chest
Lastly, you can try the knees to chest stretch. Like some of the others, you’ll want to start on your back. Once on the floor, bend your knees as you bring up towards your torso. As long as you feel no pain, pull them in as close as they’ll come. Hold this for a few seconds.
Also, consider assisted stretching facilities, as this could potentially provide you with even more significant relief. Professional athletes such as Drew Brees trust assisted stretching programs for training, but you can utilize them to combat sciatica pain.
Ready to Begin Stretching Exercises for Sciatica?
With your newfound knowledge, you are now adequately equipped to deal with your sciatica discomforts. Remember to stretch daily, as this is the key to preventing nerve pain in the future. Lastly, consider the benefits that assisted stretching can offer you.