Sciatica is more than just a literal pain in the butt (and back and legs). When it strikes, it can cause misery and debilitating pain, instantly putting a damper on your life.
The sciatic nerve runs right through the piriformis, a tiny but powerful muscle deep in your glutes that helps laterally rotate your hips. If it gets too tight, it can impinge the sciatic nerve that runs through or under it, causing tremendous pain, tingling and numbness in your lower extremities.
If you find yourself the victim of sciatica (especially if it's caused by a sedentary lifestyle), try these for stretches to help relieve the pain:
1. Piriformis Stretch
Laying on your back, place both feet flat on the floor with knees bent. Rest your right ankle over the left knee and pull the left thigh toward your chest.
Hold stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Remember to keep the top foot flexed to protect your knee.
2. Seated Hip Stretch
While in a seated position, cross your right leg over your straightened left leg.
Hug your right knee with your left arm, making sure to keep your back straight.
Hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds, and then repeat on the opposite side.
3. Pigeon Pose
Start in Downward-Facing Dog pose with your feet together.
Draw your right knee forward and turn it out to the right so your right leg is bent and your left leg is extended straight behind you. Slowly lower both legs.
Hold the position for five to ten breaths, then switch to the other side.
4. Self-Trigger Point Therapy
Performing self trigger-point therapy using a lacrosse or tennis ball can be very effective at delivering sciatica pain relief.
All you have to do is find a painful spot in the glutes, place the ball at that location and then relax your body into the ball.
Hold this position for 30-60 seconds or until you notice a significant reduction in pain. Move to the next painful spot. The total time spent on this exercise should be between 5-10 minutes.
Practicing these four exercises once or twice a day can definitely bring you much needed sciatica pain relief.
Images courtesy of the author/MBG Creative