Dr. Mark Kovacs is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. He adds that the best way to ease sciatica pain is to do any exercise that can externally rotate the hip to provide some relief. Here are some stretches and exercises to help you feel comfortable and ease the pain:
Reclining Pigeon Pose
Pigeon pose is a common yoga pose and there are multiple versions of this stretch. Actually, it helps to open the hips. So the first is a starting version known as the reclining pigeon pose. If you’re just starting the treatment, you should try this stretch first.
- Bring your right leg up to a right angle while on your back. Clasp both hands behind the thigh, then locking your fingers.
- Gently lift the left leg and place your right ankle on top of the left knee.
- Hold this position for a moment. This helps stretch the tiny piriformis muscle.
- Do the same exercise with the other leg, following the same steps.
Once you can do the starting version (Reclining) without pain, work with the physical therapist on the sitting and forward versions of pigeon pose.
Knee to the Opposite Shoulder
This simple exercise helps relieve sciatica pain by loosening the gluteal and piriformis muscles, which can press against the sciatic nerve that may lead to become inflamed.
- Lie on the back with the legs extended and the feet flexed upward.
- Bend the right leg and don’t forget to clasp the hands around the knee.
- Gently pull the right leg across the body toward the left shoulder. Hold it there for almost 30 seconds. Remember to pull the knee only as far as it will comfortably go. You should feel a relieving stretch in the muscle (not pain).
- Push the knee so the leg returns to its starting position.
- Repeat for a total of three reps, then switch legs.
Forward Pigeon Pose
- Kneel on the floor on all fours.
- Pick up the right leg and move it forward on the ground in front of the body. Then the lower leg should be on the ground, horizontal to the body. After that, the right foot should be in front of the left knee while the right knee stays to the right.
- Gently stretch the left leg out all the way behind you on the floor, with the top of the foot on the ground and toes pointing back.
- Shift the body weight gradually from the arms to the legs so that the legs are supporting your weight. Then sit up straight with the hands-on either side of the legs.
- Take a deep breath. So while exhaling, lean the upper body forward over the front leg. Then support the weight with your arms as much as possible.
- Repeat on the other side following the same steps.
Sitting Spinal Stretch
Sciatica pain occurs when vertebrae in the spine compress. In this exercise, you will create space in the spine to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Sit on the ground with the legs extended straight out with the feet flexed upward.
- Bend the right knee and place the foot flat on the floor on the outside of your opposite knee.
- Place the left elbow on the outside of your right knee to help you gently turn the body toward the right. Or you can just sit on a chair and make your spinal goes straight.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat at least three times, then switch sides following these steps.