Tightness in your buttocks, hamstrings, and calves can worsen the pain along your sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your feet. Loosen and strengthen those muscle groups by performing these 3 easy stretches:
Scissor hamstring stretch
Tight hamstring muscles can pull on your pelvis, increasing stress on your lower back and irritating your sciatic nerve. Target your hamstrings with this standing stretch:
- Stand with your right foot about 3 feet in front of your left foot.
- Face your hips and shoulders forward. If possible, check in a mirror to make sure your right hip isn’t more forward than your left hip.
- Place your hands on your hips. You can put a hand on a chair off to the side for balance.
- Bend at the waist, folding your torso forward over your front leg. Keep your back straight and most of your weight over the front leg.
- Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then try this stretch with the other leg.
Standing calf stretch
Calf muscles are easily overlooked, but their tightness is often associated with sciatica-like pain. Here’s one simple yet powerful stretch to keep these muscles loose:
- Stand facing a wall, about 2 steps away from the wall.
- Put your right foot forward, slightly bending your right knee. Keep your left heel grounded to the floor.
- Bring your upper body slightly forward, using the wall for stability. You should feel a stretch in the back of your calf.
- Hold this stretch for 10 to 20 seconds.
- Next, bend the knee of your back leg slightly. You should feel a stretch in another part of your calf.
- Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
Carefully step out of the stretch, and try it with your left leg forward and right leg back.
Supine piriformis stretch
Stretching the piriformis muscle, located deep in the buttock, is often necessary to help relieve pain along the sciatic nerve. Here’s how to do this stretch if your left leg is affected by the pain (alternate directions if your right side is affected):
- Lie on your back with your legs extended straight.
- Cross your left leg over your right thigh, planting your left foot on the outside of your right knee.
- Grab your left knee with your right hand, gently pulling your leg toward the right side.
- Once you feel a stretch, hold for 30 seconds. Try not to lift your hip off the ground during this stretch.
- Slowly return to starting position.
Try to work your way up to 3 sets of stretches.
The above stretches may help decrease painful symptoms and improve your range of motion. A doctor can help diagnose the underlying cause of your sciatica and identify which stretches might work best for you.
See Sciatica Causes