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What is the best exercise to relieve sciatic nerve pain?

Andrea Schnowske (Peoria, IL) on Sep 28, 2012
Many sciatic nerve conditions can be caused from nerve irritation, compression from a vertebral disc issue or even a muscle imbalance. I'd recommend being evaluated from a professional, such as a chiropractor that specializes in musculoskeletal complaints, to determine the true cause of your current condition and to make a more personalized recommendation.
Anthony DePativo (Berlin, NJ) on Sep 28, 2012
Visit a chiropractor and have your lower back cheched. A misaligned vertebrae in your lower back can cause sciatica. Stretching alone will not relieve this, but a chiropractic adjustment can.
Lawson Sealey (Newport Beach, CA) on Sep 28, 2012
Exercise itself will not relieve this nerve pain, but it can help prevent it from occuring after you have completed therapy. Muscle work and adjustments will help reduce the pain and inflammation around the lower back and in the gluteal region (where the sciatic nerve is most likely being compressed). Once the initial irritation clears up, you would benefit from MRT therapy to break up adhesions along the piriformis muscle ( the gluteal muscle that often shortens and knots up, putting pressure onto the sciatic nerve). Lastly, do a series of stretches for the gluteal region to keep these muscles longer and relaxed. Shortening and tightening of the gluteal muscles not only compresses nerves but weakens the muscle region, forcing the bulk of the work to be done by the lower back and leading to additional lower back pain and/or disc bulges.
Philip O'Brien (Bethlehem, PA) on Sep 28, 2012
That is a tough question to answer because it has not been determined where the dysfunction is occurring. Your problem can be joint-related, muscular, disc-related, or nerve related. I would recommend seeing a competent physician that can perform a full neurological and orthopedic exam to determine what is causing the symptoms. Until that time, you can risk further damage to the site of injury. Commonly, sciatic nerve pain, which is characterized by symptoms like pain, numbness and tingling down the leg, past the knee and into the foot, can have several causes. The more common causes I see daily are disc herniations and piriformis syndrome. However, I have also diagnosed cysts in nerve roots, fibromas in the pelvic floor, and cancer as causes of sciatica symptoms. My advice is to seek the opinion of a competent physician for a diagnosis and then see what your options are for treatment.
Eric Negri (Van Nuys, CA) on Sep 28, 2012
The last 2 stretches of this video will help sciatic pain.
Richard Sternberg (Rego Park, NY) on Sep 28, 2012
Stretching the muscles of the buttocks and thighs is often a significant relief for lower back pain and sciatica. You should specifically target the piriformis muscle. 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. Keep in mind that there will likely be discomfort bordering on pain when stretching a muscle. However, the pain should only be in the muscle group you are stretching. If it exacerbates your primary pain, try to alter your position to alleviate this pain.
Kyle Nevius (Naples, FL) on Sep 28, 2012
This depends on the area and type of compression, so talk to your doctor for specific information. Is your pain in just the knee or the entire leg? Is it constant or intermittent? Is it caused by acute or chronic compression? Once you have your answers, you can determine a course of action.
Jay Sweet (Olympia, WA) on Sep 28, 2012
In my practice, I recommend a gentle rotational stretch for the low back. It has proven quite effective for patients with lower back issues, especially sciatic pain. 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 10-30 seconds. 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.
Charles Feng (Arcadia, CA) on Sep 28, 2012
The first step is to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition. A qualified health care professional will be able to determine whether your pain is coming from the sciatic nerve or from another pain-generating structure. In terms of exercises, there are many excellent ways to strengthen your spine and to achieve greater flexibility to relieve nerve pressure. Many of them involve strengthening the core and the surrounding musculature, such as the hips, glutes, and postural muscles.
Daniel Tominello (Royal Oak, MI) on Sep 28, 2012
In general, back extension exercises are recommended for these types of conditions. Please seek medical advice and then research McKenzie back exercises. Hope this helps.
Cathleen Bucio (Portland, OR) on Dec 3, 2012
Low back compressions or also known as drawing in maneuver. Another method of relieving pain in lower back and leg pain is foam rolling piriformis. Contact me for an assessment and I can help you relieve this pain. I suffered from that a few years ago. I specialize in corrective exercises from injury.
Melissa Gutierrez (New York, NY) on Nov 13, 2012
I wouldn't say there is any one "exercise" that is best. One has to discover what is the source of the pain/problem. That being said, sciatic nerve pain can often be traced to an instability in the S.I. joints; often times more instability in one side than the other. In that case, re-establishing a healthy weight bearing pattern from the sacrum, through the pelvic halves, to both legs and the feet (this is an oversimplified description of the pattern, for sake of space) can be extraordinarily therapeutic. This process can relieve pain and make one more aware of the unhealthy movement habits or daily habits that may have contributed to the problem to begin with (i.e., bearing weight on one side habitually more than the other, uneven weight bearing during fitness routines like squats and lunges, keeping a wallet in the same side back pocket of pants, etc...)
Crystal Wright (Valrico, FL) on Oct 18, 2012
Best to do piriformis stretching daily with your affected side leg either bent or straight during the exercise. You can find many exercises for the piriformis on youtube or ehow... maybe even pinterest now too. I would highly reccommend that you also consider a good concentrated massage to your gluteal and lower back areas as well for a full hour weekly for faster recovery and increased blood flow to the area. Sincerely, Crystal Wright, LMT Valrico, FL 888-609-5538
Bill Ross (Littleton, CO) on Oct 17, 2012
The best exercise to reduce sciatic nerve pain is to perform planks. Perform planks daily to improve your core strength. Try to perform 3-4 planks per day holding it for at least 60 seconds each time. Also, perform static hamstring and glute stretches to release the muscles that are applying pressure the the sciatic nerve.
Jeffrey Lewis (Corpus Christi, TX) on Oct 16, 2012
There are quite a few reasons why you may have sciatic nerve pain. From a simple spasum of the pirformis muscle. 10% of the population has the sciatic nerve going through the pirformis muscle. You could have a subluxation (misalignment) of the lower lumbar causing unequal weight distribution in the lower back. You could have a disc bulge or herniation. Or injury causing a spondolithisis of L5. Different problems need different solutions. Some exercises will aggervate your symptoms. Do not want to open up Pandora's Box. Need more information
Deborah Caruana (New York, NY) on Oct 16, 2012
Eagle Pose most effectively works while sitting with a long spine feet firmly planted, bring one ankle up directly over top of thigh as close as possible to knee with foot firmly's important to flex foot as it maintain integrity of alignment so no knee strain. With same hand as leg is bent, firmly press knee so shin is parallel to floor, as you continue to lengthen spine. Breath visualize healing golden or green light moving through muscle fibres as they relax. Hold for 30 sec or longer...until it softens and relaxes. Then repeat other leg. Repeat 5-6 times per day...Pain should be gone fairly or 2. Namaste
Josh Wagner (New York, NY) on Oct 15, 2012
If you are looking to get to the root cause of the problem, consult a chiropractor. Anything else (drugs, massage) will temporarily mask the problem and not get to the root cause. The sciatic nerve exits from multiple areas of the bottom of the spine and can be impinged in many different places. Dr Josh Wagner
Lara McMahon (Brighton, MI) on Oct 14, 2012
Excercise will not get rid of your sciatica issues. There is probably an underlying spinal issue that is causing the nerve to flare up and that cause needs to be addressed first. Seeing a chiropractor will help locate this cause and relieve the sciatica you are experiencing.
Yaphet Hill (Houston, TX) on Oct 8, 2012
If you are still looking for exercise for lower back pain. Email me at and I will email you you stretches and exercises
Halle Clarke (New York, NY) on Oct 2, 2012
The term sciatica refers to the symptoms associated with irritation to the sciatic nerve. The symptoms may include numbness, tingling,loss of sensation or weakness on the affected leg. The condition that causes the nerve irritation is either from disc pathology, muscle tension in the piriformis and gluteal muscles or restriction in the neural sheath that encases the nerve. Once the cause of the nerve symptoms are identified then the proper exercise can be performed. A comprehensively trained Pilates instructor should be equipped to handle such situations. If the nerve compression is coming from the disc then the Pilates instructor will teach the lumbo-pelvis stabilization exercises that are central to the Pilates Method. If the symptoms are stemming from muscular or neural tension, the instructor can demonstrate simple and safe release exercises that will undo some of this tension as well as introduce correct movement patterns to insure that the piriformis muscle doesn’t tense up again. Many of these exercises can be done at home once they are properly learned. Stretching usually is done in the late phase of retraining,as when it is performed while the sciatic nerve is inflamed it may re-irritate the area. All of our instructors at Mongoose Bodyworks (NYC) can work with clients suffering from sciatica. If you have sciatica please feel free to contact us with any questions or to make an appointment.
Angela Kielar (Farmington, MI) on Sep 30, 2012
Yoga If you are near FARMINGTON HILLS MI I would be glad to offer a free class Sun 11 am
Patricia Englund (San Antonio, TX) on Sep 29, 2012
Obviously proper nutrition and exercising regularly will assist in reducing any of your aches and pains. I have found that therapuetic stretching will help relieve your sciatic nerve pain. Yoga of course being the ultimate. If you don't have time or the budget to attend a a yoga class or to get personalized instruction, there is a book you can obtain from amazon, I think its available in Kindle as well. Its called Pain Free by Pete Egoscue. I have utilized his various exercises on how to eliminate, alleviate and /or reduce all types of pain including sciatic pain. One technique in particular is to lay on floor and raise your legs and knees bent on a chair, or coffee table. for about 15 to 20 minutes. (if needed place a cushion under your head) In this position, any pain that you may feel in lower back or legs disappears temporarily. You will be able to stand up easily and bend easily with little to no pain. Do this technique about 3 to 4 times a day. Check it out and feel free to update me on your progress.
David Leonard (Raymore, MO) on Sep 28, 2012
You need to get to a chiropractic physician---one who knows specifically how to treat sciatica---Flexion distraction treatment is very good---also williams flexion exercises---check out the Jilco chair on Designed specifically for sciatica
Franklin Antoian (Delray Beach, FL) on Sep 28, 2012
There are some stretches that can help to relieve sciatic pain. Where is the pain?
Ryan Smith (Seattle, WA) on Sep 28, 2012
It completely depends on the origin of the problem. If it is piriformis syndrome, then stretching the bottock is the best way to relieve it. If it is from a disc, then it is best to be evaluated to determine what needs to be done.