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The Easiest Stretch for Sciatica

The Easiest Stretch for Sciatica

Most people when they get an attack of sciatica will Google it and be presented with various methods of stretching that would challenge many a yoga practitioner.

Stretching and moving is good and some of these stretches may help to stop any occurrence or re-occurrence of sciatic pain, but they most likely will not help in the very early acute stages of sciatica when simply standing or sitting is a challenge.

So here is the regime that I used, that worked for me and has worked for my patients:

You feel sciatic pain because the nerve has become inflamed, swollen and sensitive, hence the pain you are feeling. The first thing I do to treat myself is place an ice pack on the location of the source of the pain to reduce any swelling and inflammation. I have written more about this in a previous blog that describes how massage can be really effective combined with this therapy (A good massage for sciatica).

The stretch I do is very very simple, but effective and accessible to most.

In the pictures shown, this is for somebody suffering sciatic pain on their right side.

  • Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, turn the foot of the injured side slightly inwards (in the picture, my right foot)

 

                   

  • Reaching up and across with the hand of the same side (again in the picture, my right hand) allow your heel to lift off the floor.

 

                   

  • Now, to implement the stretch, keeping reaching up with your hand and push your heel down until it is flat on the floor, then hold the stretch for at least twenty seconds and repeat three times. Do this regularly throughout the day.

                                  

 

This stretch opens up the spine and the sacro-iliac joint on the offending side, taking pressure off the nerve and at the same time stretches out the sciatic nerve itself.

Once again, I hope this helps to speed up your recovery.

All the best, Ian

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Michael Leigh
Michael Leigh
1 year ago

HI Ian,

I am writing to thank you so much for your information on the sciatica stretch. This is my second bout of sciatica and the pain down my left leg has been excruciating. So bad I had immense difficulty standing and walking. I have been doing the stretch 4 times a day for 5 days and I have noticed significant improvement. I can walk and stand without being in unbearable pain. I think returning to use my elliptical machine 8 weeks ago caused the sciatica to flare up, even though I tried taking things slowly and only used it for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. I have heard mixed opinions about the elliptical machine. Some people say it can help sciatica while others say it can aggravate the condition. I have decided not to use it again and will stick walking and in time buy a treadmill.

Thank you once again for your great help and advice.

Yours Sincerely

Michael

Edana Harvie
Edana Harvie
2 years ago

I suffer from sciatica bit is affecting my posture as leaning to left when standing up and if I attempt to stand upright I have a shooting pain in my left buttock. I attend a chiropracter but will do the suggested exercises. Will I be ever to get my posture straight!

Rosey
Rosey
2 years ago

I’ve had a THR seven years now never really been the same as fell and broke it I have bursitis attacks often too but in September 2021 I needed help as I couldn’t put my weight on my operated hip was referred to physio as pain killers didn’t work after months I got to see someone given exercises to do and I did them but more pain and awkward for me to do so I asked for different ones mostly to build up my hip muscles to be able to walk as I was before this sciatica they are better but don’t really help much I accidentally found your blog with this exercise and I must say it’s really helped me have some respite from my pain I’m doing it throughout the day on and off I can sit for longer too and slight pain in my buttock when I get up but does ware off so thank you for the guidance of this exercise I’ve passed it on to others too . Rosey

RonJ
RonJ
2 years ago

I had a steroid shot into L4 about a week ago. Unable to stand on left leg without pain. Currently using a walker because cannot walk without it and using a cane is pain in every step. Wondering what the typical time for relief. Is 1 week too little time to expect some relief? Should I be trying to walk off the pain or rest. Really glad I found your website and your excellent answers to others experiencing excruciating sciatica pain.

Alison
Alison
2 years ago

Amazing exercise. I have had pain for about the last 2-3 weeks. Only really pain free when walking and sometimes when sitting or standing. Pain if sitting for a long time. Have started this today and have been pain free since lunchtime. Very slight tingle in my leg now, but really minor!! This has also helped me stretch my legs as all the muscles are very tight recently, but so much better now. I occasionally get sciatica, however not normally for so long.

Something so simple, but so helpful. Thank you

Sarah Watson
Sarah Watson
2 years ago

Thank you for your advice.
I have been suffering from what I am sure is sciatic pain for about two weeks and it has got steadily worse whether sitting, standing or driving the car. I have just tried your stretching exercise, 3 times for 20 seconds each, and it has certaingly eased the pain somewhat. I shall continue the exercise and hope that eventually the pain will disappear.
Thank you again,
Busy Teacher

Mae
Mae
3 years ago

I recently experienced this condition and I am in a great deal of constant pain. The last few nights I have gotten very little sleep, can’t walk unaided, and no matter what position, I get no relief. I have been trying the stretching exercise and it takes me quite some minutes to get through the pain afterwards. . I am only doing it once each time and I only hold for a few seconds. How can I counter stretch to relieve the pain of stretching?

Clsre
Clsre
Reply to  Mae
3 years ago

Thankyou for your advice

Eileen L Detloff
Eileen L Detloff
3 years ago

Thank you, I’m going to give this a try. I am a Stroke Survivor. of 2/19/21. I get a pain in my unaffected sciatica (right side) when I walk over 40 feet. PT has ended. I do stretches and at least an hour of exercise daily. Before Stroke surgery I had surgery on L-4,5, &6 to clear the way for a pinched nerve. no longer have pain down my right leg but boy oh boy I get debilitated with buttocks pain deep on right cheek. I also had a torn meniscus on left knee that had healed about 6 mos before my stroke. . The left knee feels like it will buckle on me sometimes. And I think I hyper extend my left leg when I walk . I definitely stiff leg my right knee and have a wee bit of left leg circle out movement as I walk forward which I am sure throws every thing out of alignment. MY DEEPEST appreciation for your postings. 🙂

Susan
Susan
3 years ago

Quick question for you: when you push your heel down on the affected leg are you lifting the front of your foot (with toes) at the same time?

Thanks so much in advance.

Susan
Susan
Reply to  SPRC
3 years ago

Thank you so much! This exercise has been very helpful to me.

Francesca
Francesca
Reply to  SPRC
3 years ago

Hi,
I have a herniated disc L5-S1 causing sciatica down my right leg. Will this exercise work for me? I can’t walk or stand or sit without being in so much pain. Lying on my side gives me a little relief.
After how many days doing this exercise should I feel some pain relief?
Thank you,
Francesca

mitchell
mitchell
3 years ago

thanks for the exercise . george

Roger Fagan
Roger Fagan
3 years ago

Fit and active, got sciatica for the first time in my 70’s – excruciating, debilitating, morale sapping. Couldn’t believe it would impact me the way it, did. Eventually gone, but living in real fear of it returning. Slight twinge in buttock and in bending, – PANIC – this simple exercise is actually working and keeping me off the pain killers.
Thank You – and to all other sufferers, – keep moving, – keep doing the light exercise.
Roger

Mark Ryland
Mark Ryland
3 years ago

This article & all the other info and advise you supply on this site has been really useful & informative. Thank you.

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