Anybody who suffers from sciatica, or any type of hip or lower back pain knows how exhausting it can be.
For those who don’t know about sciatica, it comes from the sciatic nerve, which is the largest single nerve in the human body. The sciatic serves a vital role in connecting the spinal cord with the leg and foot muscles.
Any pain, whether it’s neurological or inflammation, felt along the sciatic nerve is called sciatica, and it’s estimated that 4 out of 10 people will suffer pain or irritation from the sciatic nerve at some point.
This nerve is located deep in the buttock beneath the piriformis muscle, which connects your femur – your thigh and hip bone – to the spine. This muscle is the main support to the outward movement of your hip, upper leg, and feet.
So problems with the piriformis muscle can be the main cause of sciatica. Mostly it’s treated with medication, physical therapy, or even surgery. Sufferers of chronic sciatica may even be prescribed antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and heavy painkillers.
But dealing only with the symptoms whilst doing nothing about the irritation of the nerve itself only solves half of the problem.
Prevention is better than cure, so a good way to prevent these symptoms returning can be to perform some piriformis stretches. Here are some that are the most beneficial to those with sciatic pain.
1. Standing Piriformis stretch
Stand and put whichever leg is most painful leg over your other leg’s knee. Now lower your hips toward the floor at a 45 degree angle, bend the knee of your standing leg and lean forward while extending your arms parallel to the ground. Hold this for 30 to 60 seconds with a straight spine, then switch legs.
2. Supine Piriformis stretch
Lie on your back with your knees bent upwards, and cross the painful leg over the other by bending it upwards towards your chest. Then grab one knee with one hand, and your ankle with the other. Gently pull towards your shoulder, keeping your arms in line with your ankle, and hold this pose for 30 seconds.
3. Lying outer hip stretch
Lie on your back and bend your painful leg upward, placing the foot of your other leg near the back of the knee. Then, tuck your foot under the knee and twist the bent leg over the other one until it touches the ground.
Now, hold the knee with your opposite arm while raising the other up into the air. Then, slowly lower your raised arm in the opposite direction to your bent knee, and hold that position for about 20 seconds. Now repeat with your other leg.
4. Buttocks stretch for the Piriformis muscle
Place your hands and knees on the ground, and then put the foot of the leg that hurts beneath you. Then twist the foot to the other side, as close as possible to the hip, with your bent knee pointed toward your shoulder.
Next, put your forehead on the ground while also leaving your forearms flat, then straighten the pelvis, and while stretching your not-so painful leg behind you, gently push your hips downwards. Stay in that position for about 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times.
5. Groin stretch – long adductor
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched straight out and apart. Then, gently bend your upper body forward facing the ground, while putting both hands on the floor next to each other. Lean forward as much as you can trying to touch the ground with your elbows and remain in that position for about 10 to 20 seconds.
6. Hip extension exercise
Put both your hands and knees on the ground, your hands stretched directly downward from your shoulders. Then slowly release pressure off the painful leg by lifting it upward, then gently lower it down. Now just repeat 15 times.
7. Side lying clam exercise
Lay on your side with your more painful leg on top. Bend your knees so your legs to form a 90 degree angles, keeping your feet one above the other and legs in parallel.
Lift the affected knee up, gently lower it down, and repeat 15 times.
8. Seated stretch
Sitting on a chair, lift your painful leg over the knee of the other. Lean forwards slightly, with your chest out and back straight, and stay in that position 10-15 seconds. Bend slightly further if you’re able, and stay like that for 30 seconds max. Then switch legs and repeat.
9. Inner thigh exercise – Short adductor stretch
While sitting on the floor, try to make the soles of your feet touch in front of your pelvis. Now with your left hand on your right ankle and vice-versa, push your knees out and down until you touch the ground with them, and hold for 30 seconds.
Now take your hands off your ankles and gently flap your legs up and down for about 30 seconds, keeping the soles of your feet touching – imagine your legs are like bird wings.
10. Supine Piriformis side stretch
Lie on the ground keeping your legs and back flat on the floor. Then, bend your painful leg up and put your foot to the outer side of the other leg, around the knee area.
Then with your opposite hand (so if your right leg is painful, use your left hand, and vice-versa), pull the raised knee across the midline of your body, and hold this position for 30 seconds. Try to keep your shoulders and hips in constant contact with the floor, and repeat this 3 times.
For all of these exercises, be sure to warm up for a few minutes so you don’t injure yourself, and always consult a spine specialist to make sure they’re right for you. If you think these will help, let us know with a COMMENT, and of course SHARE this article if you think it will help one of your friends or family.