If you’re suffering from sciatica nerve pain, you understand how painful it can be! It’s tempting to search online for some sciatica exercises to help with your discomfort, but did you know not all sciatica exercises will relieve your pain? A lot of great exercises to eliminate your sciatica pain are out there, but others can make your sciatica pain worse.
In this article, you’ll want to know which sciatica exercises to do and which ones to avoid.
Table of Contents
- What is Sciatica ?
- What Causes Sciatica Nerve Pain?
- 4 Sciatica Exercises to Avoid
- 2. Double Leg Lift
- 3. Leg Circles
- 4. Heavy Squats
- 5. Best Sciatica Exercises to Eliminate Lower Back Pain
- A. Gluteal Stretch
- B. Sitting Spinal Stretch
- C. Quadriceps Stretch
- D. Clamshells
- Wrap Up
What is Sciatica ?
Sciatica is the pain a person feels that radiates along the sciatic nerve. This nerve branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg to your foot. When your sciatic nerve gets irritated, it causes inflammation and pain on the back of your leg, that ranges from slight discomfort to sharp pain. Generally, people experience sciatica pain on only one side of their body.
What Causes Sciatica Nerve Pain?
Sciatica nerve pain is the result of bending down or other activity that pinches the sciatica nerve, or other activity that aggravates your sciatica nerve.
Common sciatica pain symptoms include the following:
- Pain down the back of the leg
- Tingling in the leg or foot
- Muscle weakness
- Hip, lower back, rear, or leg pain
4 Sciatica Exercises to Avoid
Sometimes, people make the mistake of thinking any exercise can relieve sciatica nerve pain, but many of them could actually be worsening it. If your sciatica nerve pain is not improving after performing the following lower back exercises, it’s because they put extra pressure on your sciatic nerve.
1. Bent Over Rows
The bent over row increases strength and muscle mass in the back muscles, but they must be performed correctly for the best results. When you have improper form during this sciatica exercise, it can worsen your sciatica nerve pain and increase your risk for disc herniation.
2. Double Leg Lift
When performing exercises for sciatica nerve pain, that require you to lift both legs at the same time, it can trigger sciatic pain. This is especially true if you have a weak core, as your lower back takes on the weight of your legs. It’s best to increase your core strength before attempting a double leg lift, especially if you suffer from sciatica nerve pain.
3. Leg Circles
Leg circles are a simple move that targets the glutes and hip abductors, but it could also lead to pain in the sciatic nerve. This happens because you’re continually stretching your hamstring, which will then irritate the sciatic nerve and cause lower back pain.
4. Heavy Squats
When performing squats with heavy weights, it can cause lower spine damage.
It might also place extra strain on your lower back and increase disc pressure, which can trigger lower back pain.
These lower back exercises should be performed when wearing a weight lifting belt, to prevent lower back injury.
5. Best Sciatica Exercises to Eliminate Lower Back Pain
Now that you know which sciatica nerve exercises to avoid, it’s time to learn which ones can provide you with the relief you need. To ensure the best and safest results, it’s best to perform these sciatica nerve stretches under the supervision of a professional stretch practitioner. This is especially important if it’s your first time doing them.
A. Gluteal Stretch
This move is perfect for targeting the piriformis muscle, which is located deep in the buttock and behind the gluteus maximus. It helps stabilize the hip joint and is what rotates the thigh away from the body. The gluteal stretch can help ease any sciatica nerve pain in that area by helping to loosen the piriformis muscle.
Either lying on your back or sitting up, you’ll place one knee across your body toward the opposite shoulder. You’ll feel a gentle stretch in your back pocket area. To deepen the stretch, a professional stretching coach will gently push your knee further.
B. Sitting Spinal Stretch
When the vertebra in your spine is compressed, it can trigger sciatica nerve pain symptoms. The sitting spinal stretch helps relieve that pain by creating space in the spine. It also lessens pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Start by sitting with your legs extended in front of you. You’ll bend one knee and place your foot flat on the ground on the outside of the opposite knee. A stretching coach will gently turn your body toward the side of your bent knee and hold it for a few breaths before switching sides.
C. Quadriceps Stretch
Your quadriceps are the large muscles located in front of the thigh. Tight quads can pull the front of the pelvis down and cause lower back pain. This stretch relaxes the hips and front of your thighs to relieve extra pressure placed on your back.
There are many ways to do this stretch. If you’re going to a stretch practitioner to perform this move, you’ll be lying on your stomach. Your coach will take one leg, gently push it towards your buttocks, and hold it for a few beats before releasing and doing the other leg.
The clamshell exercise strengthens the gluteus medius. When those are weak, it puts extra strain on your knees and lower back.
Using a resistance band can add an extra challenge.
Start by lying on your side with your knees bent at about 45 degrees. You’ll then raise the top knee as far as you’re able to, then put it back down.
You don’t have to suffer from your sciatica nerve pain anymore. Once you know the best sciatica nerve exercises to target those problematic areas, you’ll find relief in no time. If you’re suffering from sciatic nerve pain, which of the above moves would you want to try first?