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Exercises to Stretch Out the Back With Sciatica Nerve Problems

By Julia Michelle

Sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, is usually a symptom of a deeper problem. The sciatic nerves exits the lumbar spine, runs through the hip girdle and down the back of the leg to the sole of the foot. The Mayo Clinic cites a herniated lumbar disk as the most common cause for sciatica, but other conditions like a tight piriformis muscle can also contribute to the disorder. There are several stretches that can relieve and prevent sciatic nerve pain.

Back Bends

Try back bends like the cobra. Lie face down and push up, supporting your upper body with your hands or elbows. Engage the abs to avoid hyper-extending your back, and keep your hips on the floor. You can also support your pelvis with a pillow or cushion. Another effective stretch is the camel pose. Kneel on the floor, reach back and rest your palms on the soles of your feet.

Forward Bends

Go into child's pose by kneeling and resting your torso on your thighs and your forehead on the floor. You can also lie on your back, draw your knees to your chest and rock side-to-side to gently massage the lower back.

Piriformis Stretches

Try the classic piriformis stretch. Lie on your back and draw the knee of the affected leg up to your chest, then pull your ankle toward the opposite shoulder. The classic piriformis stretch affects the buttock region and stretches out the lower back. The yoga pigeon pose is similar to the piriformis stretch except face down. Simply kneel on a mat or rug and extend the affected leg forward. Bend your knee so that your shin rests on the floor. Extend your opposite leg behind you, as if doing splits, and lean forward over your bent leg.

Spinal Twists

Twist the spine while seated or lying on your back. Sit in a straight-backed chair with both feet planted on the floor. Reach behind you with your left arm and loop your arm around the back of the chair. Gently rotate your upper body in the direction of your arm, while keeping your lower body facing forward. Repeat with the other arm. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Bend your left knee and lift your foot so that your shin is parallel to the floor. Let your left knee fall to the right while your reach to the left, with your left arm and look over your left shoulder. Deepen the stretch by pressing your right hand into your left knee.

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