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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

19 Comments

  1. Sarah Watson on December 10, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    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

    • SPRC on December 12, 2021 at 8:02 pm

      You’re welcome 🙂

  2. Mae on July 12, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    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?

    • SPRC on July 16, 2021 at 7:43 pm

      Hello Mae,
      First thing to say is in any activity you do to help relieve sciatica symptoms should be done within limits that you can comfortably tolerate. The saying no pain no gain does not apply. Although you may be in acute pain adding further pain to it is not the idea. With any physical activity where pain is concerned, ‘knock at the door but do not push it open.’ By this we mean move to a point where the onset of symptoms can be felt but do not move beyond that point. Over time doing a little and often you will find you can do a little more. So steady progress is order of the day. Best wishes.

    • Clsre on July 18, 2021 at 9:15 am

      Thankyou for your advice

  3. Eileen L Detloff on May 15, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    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. 🙂

    • SPRC on May 15, 2021 at 9:25 pm

      You’re welcome Eileen. Stay active. Sending our best wishes.

  4. Susan on May 12, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    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.

    • SPRC on May 12, 2021 at 9:04 pm

      Just pushing your heel down should be sufficient but if you lift your toes that will increase the nerve stretch. Gentle experimentation and see what works for you is order of the day.

      • Susan on May 15, 2021 at 8:29 pm

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

        • SPRC on May 15, 2021 at 9:27 pm

          Good to hear that:-). Take care.

      • Francesca on July 20, 2021 at 4:24 am

        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

        • SPRC on July 20, 2021 at 10:00 am

          Hello Francesca,
          Everyone’s sciatica is individual in terms of root cause and how it presents. Our blogs are ideas of things to try to see what does and does not work for you. In anything you try proceed with caution and curiosity and you will build up a picture of things that do and do not work for you. We hope you are feeling better soon.

  5. mitchell on November 26, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    thanks for the exercise . george

    • SPRC on November 26, 2020 at 10:02 pm

      You’re welcome George.

  6. Roger Fagan on November 8, 2020 at 10:01 am

    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

    • SPRC on November 9, 2020 at 8:53 am

      Thanks Roger, the journey you describe is experienced by many people so your words of encouragement and hope will mean a lot to those who read them. Glad the exercises are helping too. Keep moving and stay safe. Best wishes.

  7. Mark Ryland on August 16, 2020 at 11:19 am

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

    • SPRC on August 16, 2020 at 9:40 pm

      You’re welcome Mark.

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