Finding relief from your sciatica pain can feel like a lot of trial and error. The symptoms of pain, including numbness and tingling, can make it a challenge to both your work life and personal life. If you’re one of the millions of people with sciatica, you know just how painful it can be to move, walk or even get off the couch. Add these 5 sciatica stretches for back pain relief to your daily fitness routine to help you feel better – even during a flare-up.

Sciatic nerve pain 101 

Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve in your lumbar or lower spine becomes pinched, inflamed or irritated. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from your lower back and down into both legs. It also connects your spinal cord with your feet and leg muscles. When in pain, the sciatic nerve condition is called sciatica.

Here are some key tips to remember before you begin these 5 sciatica stretches for back pain relief:

  • Take your time. Go at your own pace.
  • Position yourself in a comfortable starting position.
  • Choose sciatica exercises that suit your abilities and comfort level.
  • Talk to your doctor or physical therapist before beginning any exercise program.
  • If you experience pain, arthritis, sports injuries or other conditions that make it difficult for you to continue, take a moment to breathe, relax and regroup.

Here are the 5 sciatica stretches for back pain relief we recommend:

Stretch #1: Reclining pigeon pose

Sciatica for Back PainReclining pigeon pose is a yoga stretch that can help with back pain. This pose works by helping to open the hips. While there are other versions of pigeon pose, starting with this gentle version may be more helpful.

Here’s what to do:

  • Lie on your back.
  • Raise your right leg up, bringing it to a right angle.
  • Clasp both of your hands behind your thigh and lock your fingers together.
  • Lift up your left leg.
  • Place your right ankle on the top of your left knee.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds.
  • Repeat this process with the other leg.

Make sure to pull the knees into your body as close as you can to get the maximum benefit.

Want to see alternative pigeon poses? We’ve got them for you here: 

Stretch #2: Knee to opposite shoulder stretch

knee to chest pose

The knee to the opposite shoulder stretch may help relieve your back pain by relaxing your piriformis muscle and other muscles in your lower back.

Here’s what to do:

  • Lie on your back in a resting position with your legs out straight and your toes pointing up.
  • Bend your right knee and grasp it with both hands.
  • Very gently pull your right leg across your body and toward your left shoulder. You should feel a gentle stretching but no pain.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Bring your knee and leg back to resting position.
  • Repeat 3 times.
  • Now change legs and repeat the process for your left leg toward your right shoulder.

Check out this video of the stretch in action: 

Stretch #3: Seated spinal stretch

spine twist pose

In the seated spinal stretch, you can gently stretch your spine to help create some space in the areas that can become compressed.

 

Here’s what to do:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended out and your toes pointing up.
  • Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the outside of your left knee.
  • Bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. This will help you gently turn your body to the right.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.
  • Switch to your left leg and repeat the steps.

Want to see more? Here you go: 

Stretch #4: Prone press up stretch

Sciatica for Back Pain

For gentle full back relief, try the press up stretch. You may feel this stretch from your tailbone all the way up. If you suffer from a herniated disc, this stretch may be especially beneficial.

Here’s what to do:

  • Lie on your stomach with your elbows underneath your shoulders.
  • Keep your forearms flat on the floor.
  • Lift your chest and allow your body to extend upward from your tailbone to your neck.
  • Allow your back to arch gently.
  • Repeat 2 to 3 times.

You can make the most of your press-ups with these tips:

Stretch #5: Knees to chest stretch

Sciatica for Back Pain

Also known as the happy baby pose, the knees to chest stretch is gentle yet effective. All you have to do is give yourself a hug.

 

Here’s what to do:

  • Lie on your back on a soft surface like your bed.
  • Slowly bring your knees to your chest, letting your back round.
  • Hug your knees and hold that position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

Check out this stretch in action: 

Remember: if a stretch hurts, stop. These 5 sciatica stretches for back pain relief are meant to help you feel better. Talk to your doctor, try including these stretches into your daily routine and take the time you need to do this wellness work.

Which of these 5 sciatica stretches for back pain relief will you try first? 

Tell us about your wellness journey in the comments below!

What topics related to sciatica pain relief would you like to see us explore?

Email us at info@painresource.com with your ideas.

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Please note: these recommendations are not intended as a substitute to the advice of your health care team. We hope that these stretches provide complementary support to the regimen prescribed to you.

This post was updated in February 2019 with new information and resources. 

5 Sciatica Stretches for Back Pain Relief
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