Stretching and exercising are great ways to loosen up your sciatic nerve and ease the pain. When you release the tension in your muscles, especially those in the lower back, butt, and back of the legs, your sciatic nerve is less likely to be irritated and inflamed
The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in your body, made up of five nerves (L4, L5, S1, S2, and S3) that work together in the lower back and run down the butt and legs.
Lower back exercises are the most common remedies for sciatica. Consult your doctor, before attempting these workouts at home.
7 stretches or loosening up your sciatic nerve
1. Seated piriformis stretch
- Your piriformis muscle is located deep within your glutes, and spasms in this muscle can result in sciatica pain.
- Sit in a chair and place your feet firmly on the floor.
- Lift your left leg and place your left ankle on your right knee.
- Slowly lean forward while keeping your back straight, feeling the stretch in your glutes and lower back.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then switch to your right leg.
2. Child pose
Stretching your back and thigh muscles can promote relaxation and relieve pain.
- Kneel on a soft surface, such as a yoga mat or carpet.
- Spread your knees apart and touch your big toes together.
- Straighten your spine and place your forehead on the floor.
- As you inhale, extend your arms straight out past your head.
- As you exhale, lean back on your legs and move your butt toward your heels.
- Continue to inhale deeply while extending your arms outward with each breath.
- To return to a kneeling position, gently reposition your hands.
3. Standing hamstring stretch
This stretch helps you keep the muscles that surround the sciatic nerve flexible, which can lower inflammation.
- Stand tall while placing your feet firmly on the floor.
- Place your raised left leg on a sturdy surface, such as a bench, footstool, or chair.
- Keep your leg straight with your toes pointed upward.
- Gently lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstring.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
- Repeat with your right leg.
4. Knee-to-chest exercise
This exercise targets the muscles in your upper thigh and lower buttock region.
- Lie on your back and keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent.
- Place one knee on your chest while keeping your other foot on the floor.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds while keeping your lower back flat on the floor.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Do 2-4 repetitions on each side. To make the exercise a bit more challenging, keep one leg straight on the floor while elevating the other to the chest. You can also bring your knees to your chest from both sides.
5. Pelvic tilt exercises
Pelvic tilt exercises can help relieve sciatica pain by loosening up the nerve.
- Lie on your back with your legs bent and arms at your side.
- Your back should be pressed firmly into the floor as you contract your stomach muscles and rock your hips and pelvis slightly upward.
- While holding this pose, try to imagine touching your backbone with your belly button. Remind yourself to breathe.
- Hold for a few seconds and then let go.
- Repeat 8-12 times.
6. Glute bridges
When your glutes get tight, they can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Glute bridges can help strengthen these muscles and ease the pain.
- Lie on your back with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides, palms down.
- Lift your hips by pressing through your heels until your body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Try not to round or arch your back.
- Hold this pose, then gradually bring your hips down to the floor.
- Repeat 8-10 times for 2-3 sets.
7. Lying deep gluteal stretch
If your muscles are very tight or you aren’t that flexible, you may need to tweak this exercise significantly.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- You may need to put a book or firm pillow under your head to elevate it slightly.
- As you lift your right leg, place your right ankle on your left knee.
- Keep both hands on the floor and pull your left thigh toward you by looping your fingers behind it while keeping your head and back on the floor.
- If you have trouble reaching your thigh, you can bring it closer to you by wrapping a towel around it.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
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