You’re carrying a bag of groceries into the house or bending over to tie your shoes when suddenly, you’re frozen with shooting pain that travels from your lower down one leg. This is sciatica, and it’s one of the more debilitating types of pain you can experience. Your sciatic nerve is the thickest and longest nerve in your body, and it can cause excruciating pain when it’s pinched or damaged in some way.
I’ve learned from experience that sciatica doesn’t go away on its own if you try to continue your normal routines while you’re experiencing it. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce your symptoms and aid your recovery. Here are some of my favorite exercises for combating sciatica pain.
Sitting Pigeon Pose
Sitting pigeon pose gently stretches the muscles around the sciatic nerve and may help relieve symptoms caused by a pinched nerve. To complete this exercise, sit with your legs stretched straight in front of you on the floor. With one leg straight in front of you, bend the opposite leg and gently pull it across your body so the ankle of your bent leg sits on the knee of your straight leg.
Slowly lean forward and allow your upper body to come down toward the thigh until you feel a slight stretch. Hold the stretch for up to 20 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Knee to Chest Stretches
Knee to chest stretches may be an easier alternative for people who experience a lot of pain in a seated position. To complete the movements, lie down on your back with your legs straight on the floor. Slowly bring one knee toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your back. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds, then slowly bring the leg back to its starting position. Repeat the movement on the other leg.
Child’s pose is one of the most comforting poses for those with sciatica. It’s a very gentle movement with no jarring motions. Begin the exercise in a kneeling position, then gently lower your buttocks to your heels while keeping your arms stretched out straight in front of you and your palms on the floor. Deep breaths are essential during this stretch and will help improve the efficacy of the movement.
Try to relax and breathe deeply while you feel the gentle stretch in your arms, shoulders and lower back. Don’t force a deeper stretch than you can handle. Hold the position for up to 30 seconds before releasing.
These gentle movements are great for those with sciatica. Give them a try today and see if they relieve your symptoms.