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You Asked: Stretch For Sciatica

Hey Fit,
I've been having issues with my sciatic nerve lately, I was wondering if you could post some stretches and/or yoga poses that would help with sciatica? Thanks!
— Hitting a Nerve

I feel your pain. The sciatic nerve, when pinched or pressed, can cause tingling and numbness down the back of the leg. The pain can come from a nerve root being pinched in the lower spinal column — mostly at the last vertabra (lumbar 5) and the sacrum. Pain can also come from a tight piriformis muscle, since the nerve runs through this deep booty muscle. If you are experiencing sciatica from a degenerative or herniated disc, you should see an orthopedist to get a diagnosis and a recommendation for a physical therapist. When it comes to lower back injuries due to nerve compression, strengthening your core is elemental to getting rid of the tingling pain. It is important to strengthen your abs and spinal muscles in a way that won't compromise your injury further.

I do have two safe stretches to share with you. Learn them when you read more.

I have found this piriformis stretch to be safe and effective with Pilates clients experiencing sciatica. I call it the figure four, but it is a simplified variation of the yoga pose pigeon.

  1. Lie on your back with both legs in the air. Place your right ankle on your thigh above your left knee. See the shape of the number four? It is there, just upside down.
  2. Reach your right hand through the open space created by your right leg and grab your left hand that is reaching around the outside of your left thigh. Slowly bend your left knee. You should feel a stretch on the outside of your right hip. Hold for 30 seconds.

Another stretch that can relieve tension caused by an unhappy sciatic nerve is this simple hamstring stretch.

  1. Lie on your back, bend your right knee and place right foot on the floor.
  2. Raise your left leg as high as you can keeping your pelvis square (don't raise your left hip toward your ear).
  3. Hold your lower thigh or place a strap over the arch or ball of your foot. Flex your foot to stretch your calf too.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Source: Getty
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