If you are feeling pain in your lower back that radiates across your buttocks and into your legs, you may be experiencing sciatica due to pressure or irritation of the sciatic nerve. At times, the pain can be excruciating and disruptive to your daily activities. Fortunately, there are some stretches you can do that can reduce the discomfort. There are also some activities you should avoid.

What Is Sciatica Pain and Why Does It Occur?

The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. It begins in your lower back and extends through your buttocks and into your legs. Pain occurs when the nerve becomes irritated or pinched. It can be a mild ache and discomfort or a sharp, burning pain. It usually affects only one side of the body, but you may have pain in both legs in rare cases.

Symptoms of sciatica pain may include:

  • Pain in the leg or buttock that becomes worse when sitting
  • Hip pain
  • Weakness or numbness in the leg or foot
  • Chronic pain on one side of the buttock

Sciatica pain is often the result of an underlying medical condition, such as:

  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

There may also be a connection between autoimmune diseases and sciatica pain. The inflammation associated with the disease may cause degenerative changes that impact lower back pain. Sciatica pain could also indicate that you have ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the spine.

Four Stretching Exercises That Can Help With Pain Relief

If you have sciatic pain, here are some of the best stretches for pain management:

Seated Glute Stretch

While sitting on a chair, cross your affected leg over your other knee. Slowly lean forward while keeping your back straight until you feel a stretch in your buttock. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Stand up straight and place your foot on an elevated surface, such as a step or a sturdy chair. Keep your foot flexed and bend forward towards your toes. You should feel a stretch down the back of your leg. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times.

Knee to Opposite Shoulder

Lie flat on your back with your legs extended and your feet flexed upward. Bend your affected leg and wrap your hands around the knee. Gently pull your knee across your body towards your opposite shoulder. Hold it there for 30 seconds, then return you knee to the starting position.

Figure 4 Stretch

Lie on your back and bend your knees. Place the affected leg over the other leg and pull it gently towards your chest. Hold for 30 seconds and release.

There are also some exercises you should avoid, such as:

  • High impact aerobics
  • Squats and lunges
  • Russian twists
  • Burpees
  • Deadlifts
  • Bent-over row

It’s important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Before starting any exercise program, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional. Our staff at Advanced Rheumatology of Houston can work with you on treating your sciatica pain. We can diagnose the root cause of your pain and work with you to create a customized plan that works for your lifestyle. 

Contact us to schedule an appointment by calling (281) 766-7886.