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