Researchers say that roughly eight in 10 Americans will experience an episode of low back pain at some point in their lives. If you have sciatica, chances are you’ve already lived through stints of debilitating pain and immobility. When it comes to sciatica treatment, options cover everything from anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections to acupuncture and massage.
The truth is that every case is different, which means that the best treatment plan is one that’s tailored to you. In the meantime, experts at Harvard Medical School say that frequent exercise and daily stretching can help strengthen your lower back and prevent future flare-ups.
In that spirit, we’re spotlighting six tried-and-true exercises to help relieve sciatica pain, as outlined by Prevention. If you feel comfortable, hold each pose for a few cleansing breaths.
Reclined Pigeon Pose
This hip-opening pose lengthens the IT band; the connective tissue the helps the hips internally rotate. For those who don’t have much experience with yoga, it’s an optimal beginner’s stretch. Enter the pose by laying on your back with knees bent and feet planted on the floor. With the right foot flexed, place the foot over the left knee, then gently pull your left leg close. Letting gravity do the work, you should feel the stretch in your right outer thigh.
Reclined Cow’s Face Pose
Relieve sciatic tension with this stretch, which also begins on your back. Cross one leg over the other, then bring both legs off the floor with feet flexed. From there, reach out for the outer ankles and, like reclined pigeon pose, try to hug your legs close to get the biggest benefit. You might even feel a good stretch in the inner thighs, as well.
Similar to a traditional runner’s stretch, settling into a deep, low lunge can help open your hip flexors and, in turn, dial down your sciatica pain. Begin by lunging normally before bringing your back knee down to the floor. Tilt the pelvis up and reach your arms overhead. If your left knee is bent, you should feel this stretch through the right groin.
Traditional Pigeon Pose
This pose is a salve for sciatica pain. Think of it as a more intense expression of reclined pigeon pose; instead of laying on your back, you’re using similar positioning with your tummy facing down. Again, this stretch lengthens the IT band, so you’ll feel it in your glute muscles. One important thing to remember: whichever leg is bent, keep the foot flexed, not pointed, to protect the knee.
This is a more challenging pose, so if it proves too difficult, don’t be afraid to make minor modifications. The idea is to put your legs in a “frog” position: belly down, knees bent, feet flexed. While propping yourself up on your forearms, widen your knees as far as is comfortable, then gradually let yourself melt into the position. If it’s too hard, try propping your knees up on yoga blocks to soften the movement.
Foam Roller for Sciatica and Hip Rotator
A foam roller for sciatica can do wonders for pain and discomfort. This video effortlessly illustrates how to use this inexpensive prop to ease and heal the condition. The idea is to sit on the foam roller while leaning on one side so that the outer thigh is resting directly on it. From there, slowly roll up and down. Think of it as a restoring, do-it-yourself massage for sciatica.
Do you need more?
Working these nourishing stretches into your routine can help relieve persistent sciatica pain so that you can get on living your best life. These poses can also work in tandem with traditional sciatica treatment options. To learn more about easy lifestyle changes to help manage your sciatica, visit Health Star Clinic.