The enjoyment of stretching may amaze anyone who has never tried it. The intense pain of sciatica may inspire a willingness to experiment with a new approach to pain relief. Your body’s longest nerve is the sciatic, and it extends from the spine through the buttocks and down the legs. Usually affecting only one side, it reacts negatively to tight and stiff muscles that press on it. These sciatica stretches make your muscles feel good, but you need to stop doing any that hurt.
1. SCIATICA MOBILIZING STRETCH
Lie on a yoga mat with your knees bent and a cushion or hard pillow under your head. Bring one knee toward your chest and hold it with both hands. Slowly extend your leg upward for a count of 30 and return to original position. Straighten the leg that remains on the mat as much as you can comfortably do, or you may put a pillow under that knee for support. Repeat three times for each leg while taking deep breaths throughout the exercise.
2. BOTH KNEES TO CHEST STRETCH
Lie on your back on a yoga mat with a cushion or firm pillow under your head. Place your hands on both knees and slowly bring them toward your chest. Hold the stretch for a count of 30 and return to the original position. Repeat the exercise three times, and make sure to take deep breaths throughout your exercise period.
3. PIRIFORMIS MUSCLE STRETCH
Lie on your back on a yoga mat with comfortable support for your head. Bring both legs into a bent-knee position. Cross one leg on the opposite knee. Grasp the thigh of the leg that has a foot on the floor. Exert a gentle pull to move it toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your butt on the side of the elevated leg. Hold the stretch for a count of 30 and return to the original position. Perform this stretch three times for each leg.
4. CAT-CAMEL POSES
From a position of all fours on your yoga mat, straighten your arms directly below your shoulders. Align your knees with your hips. Exert pressure on your abdominal muscles and gently push your back upward to create an arch like a cat for the first part of the exercise. The stretch works best when you let your head point downward toward the mat. Maintain the pose for a count of 10 and return to the original position.For the second part of the stretch, lower the middle of your back into a reversed arch. Keep your head up to help deepen the stretch and hold the pose for a count of 10. The up and down movement of your spine provides the stretch, and you need to keep your arms straight. Repeat the cat-camel stretch 12 times.
5. STANDING HAMSTRING STRETCH
From an erect position with your feet together, stand in front of a sturdy table, bench or ledge that is about hip-width high. Lift one leg and let your heel rest on the object in front of you. You need to keep your legs straight without locking your knees. Bend forward at your waist while keeping your spine straight. You reach the right level when you feel a stretch in the back of the elevated leg. Maintain this pose for 30 seconds and then release to the original position. Repeat the exercise three times for each leg.
6. FROG POSE (ADVANCED)
Start by getting down on all fours on the width instead of the length of your yoga mat. Place your hands on the floor as you slowly widen your knees. Try to keep the inside of the calf and foot of each leg touching the floor. Gradually lower your body down to your forearms. Hold the pose for 30 seconds for a series of three stretches.
7. TWO KNEE TWIST
Lie on your back on your yoga mat with your knees bent and a pillow to support your head. Spread your arms to each side to form a T shape and keep your shoulders flat. Slowly rotate your knees to the left and hold for a count of 60 before switching sides. Repeat the stretch three times.
8. CHILD’S POSE
Get down on your hands and knees with your hands out in front on the yoga mat. Slowly extend your hands forward as you lower your body into a crouch.