Sciatica is a painful condition caused by inflammation in the sciatic nerve which can start in your lower back and go even down to your feet. It affects 4 out of 10 people in the world, and is pretty difficult to get rid of. The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and goes down to the buttocks and feet, and any kind of irritation in it can cause the onset of sciatica. If you’ve experienced it, you know how painful it can be, which is why everyone’s looking for a quick solution.
The piriformis muscle connects the spine with the top of the femur and supports normal and outward movements of the legs, feet and hip. It lies just beneath the sciatic nerve in the buttocks and can be irritated by it. When somehow affected, it can swell and cause pain which is known as the piriformis syndrome. The pain can radiate down to the lower back and hips and can significantly affect your balance and movement.
No matter if the problem is piriformis syndrome or sciatica, people treat them with painkillers and NSAIDs such as aspirin or Ibuprofen. Sometimes, physical therapy or surgery is also required, although most of the conventional treatments do nothing more than mask the symptoms. There are, however, simple piriformis stretches which can significantly reduce the pain and help you walk normally again.
Here are the 10 best piriformis stretches against sciatica and piriformis syndrome:
Standing piriformis stretch
Just stand upright and bent your painful leg over the knee of your other leg, then squat down to the floor slowly and hold the stretch for up to a minute. Make sure to keep your spine and back straight during the process.
Supine piriformis stretch
Put a yoga mat on the floor and lay down on it on your back, then bend your legs and put the ankle of the painful leg over the other knee. Grab the ankle with one hand and your knee with the other, then stretch as much as you can and hold for 30-60 seconds.
Outer hip piriformis stretch
Lay down on your back and turn on the side, then keep the painful leg bend with the foot over the back of the knee of the other leg. Tuck the foot in and twist the leg a bit and keep the knee on the ground. Now, put one arm on the knee and raise the other, then lower the arm towards the knee and hold for half a minute. Repeat the exercise on the other side as well.
Buttocks piriformis stretch
Go down on the ground on your hands and knees, then fold the painful leg underneath your trunk and twist it towards the other side near the hip. Keep the knee pointed to the shoulder. Now, lower the head until your forehead touches the ground, leaning on your forearms. Stretch the other leg behind you and push the hips down to the ground, then hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds.
Long adductor stretch
Sit on the floor and stretch the legs out, then tilt your torso down and put your hands on the floor. Now, lean forward until you elbows touch the ground, then hold for 10 seconds or more.
Go down on your hands and knees on the ground and keep the hands aligned under your shoulders. Now, raise the painful leg towards the ceiling, then bring it back down gently and repeat the stretch 15 times.
Lay on one side of your body and keep the affected leg on top, then bend both your legs with one foot over the other. Now, lift the top knee upwards and bring it down slowly, then repeat the side-lying clam 15 times.
Sit on a chair and put the painful leg over the other knee, keeping your chest pointing forward and bending a bit as well. Try to bend as much as you can and remain in the position for half a minute, then repeat the stretch with the other leg.
Short adductor stretch
Sit on the floor with your legs bent and your soles touching each other, then hold the ankles with the opposite hand and push down as hard as you can until your knees touch the ground. Flutter the legs like a butterfly for 30 seconds or more.
Supine side stretch
Lay down on the floor with your back straight, then bend the painful leg, point it up and put the foot on the outer side of the other leg. Now, grab the knee and pull the painful leg to the chest, then hold for 30 seconds and repeat the stretch 15 times.