Sciatica is a common condition among women and men, creating a sense of discomfort in the legs and lower back that can render the simplest of tasks both taxing and tiresome. Although a trip to the doctor may be in order for some sciatica sufferers, many can find relief from the comfort of home by drawing on a few simple stretches and exercises. Here, Zeel Chiropractic Experts offer up their favorites.
Go after the piriformis muscle. "Stretching the muscles of the buttocks and thighs is often a significant relief for lower back pain and sciatica. Specifically the piriformis muscle," explains Richard Sternberg, a doctor of chiropractic medicine based in Rego Park, N.Y. "You can accomplish this by laying on your back, bringing your knee to your chest and externally rotating your hip by bringing your foot toward the opposite hip."
Richard reminds us to be mindful of pain. While discomforts may arise, it should be localized within the muscle group you are stretching. "If it exacerbates your primary pain, try to alter your position to alleviate this," he adds.
Try a raised, gentle rotational stretch. Dr. Jay Sweet says that, in his practice, he recommends a gentle rotational stretch for the low back that has proven effective for patients with sciatic pain and other low-back issues. He describes: "To perform this stretch, lie on a raised surface (bed, couch, etc.). Position your body so that your upper body is face up, lying mostly on your back. Then, rotate your lower body toward one side by hanging your opposite side leg over the side of the raised surface. Keep your knee as straight as possible. Allow the leg to drop toward the floor for about 10 to 30 seconds. "
Dr. Sweet adds, "If you are doing this properly, your foot will slowly lower and you will feel a stretch across the lower back. There should be no pain. If there is, stop doing the stretch. Repeat for the other side. This stretch can be performed as often as you wish."