Sciatica is a condition which causes severe pain in the lower back and extremities which is quite difficult to resolve. In more severe cases, sciatica can make you unable to move, which is why people are looking to resolve it as soon as they can. Luckily, there are simple so-called piriformis (a muscle through which the sciatic nerve passes through) stretches that can relieve the pain and inflammation and fix the problem effectively.
The main causes of sciatica
Due to the close proximity of the sciatic nerve and piriformis muscle, the muscle can irritate the nerve and cause severe pain which can radiate all the way down to the feet. Piriformis is a controversial diagnosis of a neuromuscular condition related to the sciatic nerve. Science has still been unable to reveal the true cause of piriformis syndrome, and the condition is pretty hard to detect even with the technological advances of modern medicine. Here are some of the most common causes of piriformis syndrome:
- Bleeding in the piriformis muscle area;
- Swelling of the piriformis muscle;
- Irritation of the sacroiliac joint;
- Tightening of the muscle due to injuries or spasms.
Any of these problems can cause severe pain in your piriformis muscle and the nearby area. Luckily, it can all be relieved with the help of a few simple stretches.
Before we present the stretches, it’s important to know that over-stretching can make things worse, so make sure not to go overboard. Warm up your muscles before performing the stretches in order to prevent injuries and go slow in the beginning until you get used to the positions. Here are the top 10 stretches against sciatica and piriformis syndrome:
Sit on a chair and cross your right leg over the left, then lean forward with your back straight and hold the position for 60 seconds.
Go face down on the floor and put the painful foot under your body, with the painful knee facing outside. Keep your pelvis straight and extend the other leg behind your body, then lean forward on your forearms and move the hips back towards the floor. Keep the position for 90 seconds, then go back to the original position and repeat the stretch 3 times.
Supine piriformis side stretch
Lie down on your back on the floor and keep your legs flat, then raise the painful leg and bend it over the other leg. Keep the foot of the affected leg on the floor. Now, pull the knee of the bent leg with your arms across the midline of your body until you feel a stretch in it, then hold for 90 seconds and repeat the stretch 3 times.
Go down on all fours on the floor and keep your shoulders over your hands and your knees bent. Now, raise the painful leg towards the ceiling slowly, then go back to the starting position. Repeat the stretch for at least 15 times.
Lie down on your pain-free side and bend your knees, keeping your feet in line with your back. The hips should be directly one on top of the other. Keep the ankles together and raise the top knee away from the other one, then go back to the original position and repeat the side-lying clam 15 times.
Short adductor stretch
Sit down on the floor with your feet together like in the video above, and put some pressure on your knees with your elbows. Lean forward with your torso and keep the position for 90 seconds while fluttering your legs.
Long adductor stretch
Sit down on the floor and stretch your legs out, then lean forward with your torso as much as you can. Put your hands in front of you on the ground, dropping your elbows on the floor as well. Push yourself until you feel a stretch in your pelvis, then hold the position for 20-30 seconds before going back to the original one.
Outer hip piriformis stretch
Go down on your back on the floor and bend your right knee, then pull it over to the left side using your hands. Keep the back on the floor until you feel a stretch in the muscles, then hold the position for 90 seconds before repeating the process on the other side.
Standing piriformis stretch
Stand upright and lower your hips for 45 degrees towards the floor. Now, lift the right foot off the floor and put the outer ankle on the left knee and make sure to keep your back straight while leaning forward and lowering your chest towards the knees. As soon as your glutes are stretched, go back to the original position and repeat the stretch again.
Supine piriformis stretch
Go down on the floor on your back and bend your knees, keeping your feet firmly on the floor. Now, pull the painful leg towards your chest, then grab the ankle with your other hand and pull the knee in the opposite direction until you feel a stretch. Try performing the stretch as many times as you can.