5 Sciatica Stretches to Ease Aching Leg Pain

April 11, 2023 0 Comments

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If you’ve ever experienced sciatica, you know that uncomfortable, burning sensation along the back of your legs affects everything you do: how you walk, how well you sleep, whether you can lift a baby or sit for long periods of time . road trip The pain can be unbearable.

When all you want to do is get rid of the pain, you can do yoga for sciatica relief. Stretching for sciatica can temporarily relieve symptoms and also help relieve discomfort in the long term. Practicing yoga can not only ease your symptoms, but also improve your mental outlook when dealing with buttock pain.

What exactly is sciatica?

Sciatica is not a disease in itself. It is a symptom of a condition that pinches or otherwise damages the sciatic nerve, which starts at the base of the spine and runs down through the pelvis and along the back of both thighs.

The nerve can be damaged by a bulging or herniated disc in the spine, bone growth or bone spurs, or any trauma to the lumbar spine. The tumor can press on the nerve; diabetes can also cause nerve damage. Piriformis syndrome, a condition in which a small muscle under the gluteal muscles pinches and inflames the sciatic nerve, can also cause pain, but usually in a specific area rather than the entire length of your leg.

Sciatica is quite common. About 40 percent of people experience it during their lifetime. Your age and occupation are among the highest risk factors for sciatica. It is most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50. As you age, you may be more susceptible to the disease. You may be more at risk if you do a lot of twisting or heavy lifting, or if you sit all day. Being overweight also increases your chances of experiencing sciatica.

How do you know if you have sciatica?

Pain in the sciatic nerve can manifest itself in different ways, but it is often described as a constant burning sensation. It may also feel sharp or throbbing or tingling. Your legs may feel weak or numb.

It may be worse when you sit, bend forward, turn, or try to stand up. Although the sciatic nerve runs along both legs, the main symptom of sciatica is pain, which is usually only felt on one side of the body.

To determine the cause of your gluteal pain, your health care provider will perform the FAIR flexion, adduction, and internal rotation test. In this test, a physical therapist or other qualified health care professional will ask you to lie on your side with the affected thigh on top. The therapist will move your leg in a variety of positions—flexing, adducting, midline lifting, and inward rotation.

This helps them check the stability of the hip and see what may be compressing the sciatic nerve. If during this movement you feel pain in the buttock area or radiating down the leg, you may have sciatica. The FAIR test can also help distinguish between sciatica and piriformis syndrome.

5 Stretching sciatica

These sciatica stretches can help soothe sciatic nerve pain and relieve tension in your lower back and hips, so you can be on your way to healing. Add these poses to your yoga or other exercise routine. When you practice yoga for sciatica, pay attention to how you sit and maintain good posture.

For detailed descriptions of each pose, along with variations, tips and benefits, click the links below to visit Yoga magazine Library pos

Downward facing dog pose
(Photo: Andrew Clarke; Clothing: Kalia)

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Down Dog stretches the lower back and gluteal muscles and relieves the load on the lumbar spine.

(Photo: Andrew Clarke; Clothing: Kalia)

Viparita Karina (legs to the wall pose)

Legs up the Wall is a restorative yoga pose that stretches the hamstrings and glutes, loosens the hips and relieves tension in the lower back. Sciatica pain that radiates from the lower back through the glutes and down the hamstrings can often be relieved with this inversion.

Hiro Landazuri sits cross-legged in Gomukhasana, cow face pose
(Photo: Andrew Clarke)

Gomukhasana (cow face pose), variation

This version of the cow face pose provides a strong stretch of the thighs, as well as the piriformis muscles, relieving compression of the sciatic nerve.

A woman demonstrates twisting the spine in a lying position during yoga
(Photo: Andrew Clarke; Clothing: Kalia)

Supta Matsyendrasana (lying spine twist)

This rotation of the spine internally rotates the hips, allowing gravity to pull the knees down, providing passive hip extension.

A woman practices a preparatory version of the pigeon pose.  She is lying on her back, both knees are raised to the body.  Her right ankle is crossed over her left knee, forming a quadrilateral.  She has a belt around her right hip and she holds it with both hands to pull it towards her.
(Photo: Andrew Clarke; Clothing: Kalia)

Lying pigeon pose

This pose, sometimes called Supta Kapotasana, stretches the hips while relieving pressure in the lower back. Lying instead of the traditional pigeon pose, you feel less weight on your hips, and your lower back is not as compressed.

RELATED: The 15-Minute Thigh and Butt Stretch Routine

This article has been updated. First published on July 2, 2021.

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