Sciatica is typically excruciating and can sometimes be disabling. A few simple exercises can help with pain relief.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is actually a name for a symptom – pain that stems from pressure on or aggravation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is longer than any other human nerve, extending from the lower back all the way to the feet. The pain of sciatica is often severe and persistent, which can hinder quality of life.

Sometimes the issue develops at the piriformis, a critical muscle within the glutes that assist with hip rotation. If that muscle isn’t kept loose, it can start to put pressure on the sciatic nerve, resulting in the radiating pain that is felt in the buttocks and legs.

However, sciatica appears for other reasons as well. Often it “is caused by a herniated disc with nerve root compression,” explains a 2007 report on sciatic nerve pain in the British Medical Journal. “[L]umbar stenoses and (less often) tumours are [also] possible causes.”

Exercises for pain relief

Many people find that these stretches and exercises alleviate the pain of their sciatica. (Note that you should check with a healthcare professional before starting any self-therapy program – so you don’t risk exacerbating the condition.)

1. Piriformis stretch

Get down onto the ground, facing the ceiling. Put the bottoms of your feet on the floor and bend your knees. Put your left ankle over your right knee, keeping it flexed, and gradually embrace your right thigh.

Maintain for 30 seconds and switch sides.

2. Sitting hip stretch

Sit down and cross your left leg over the right one. Embrace your left knee with the right arm, without bending your spine.

Maintain the position for 30 seconds and switch sides.

3. Trigger point self-therapy

Typically sciatica involves multiple trigger points in the glutes, which can be relieved with the pressure of a lacrosse or tennis ball. You want to position the ball underneath you, notes massage therapist and author Morgan Sutherland, LMT.

“All you have to do is find a painful spot in the glutes, place the ball at that location and then relax your body into the ball,” he says. “Hold this position for 30-60 seconds [and move] to the next painful spot.

Comprehensive nonsurgical solutions

Do you need sciatica pain relief? The above strategies can help. For a more comprehensive solution, Health Star Clinic offer the combined expertise of board certified doctors, award winning chiropractors and physical therapists. Read our New Patient Promises.