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Sciatic Nerve Pain? Stretches That Can Help.

When sciatica flares up—you know... the searing pain, tingling, or numbness that shoots from your low back to one of your legs - you'll do just about anything to find relief. That's why these simple stretches are so handy. They can help take pressure off your sciatic nerve without having to even get out of bed.

There are three main reasons for sciatica:

  1. Subluxation - a bone that has moved out of alignment that is inadvertently putting pressure on the nerve

  2. Tight Hip Muscles - usually piriformis muscle

  3. Herniated Disc - a bulge in the cushioning between the bones in your spine

If you're unsure what's triggering your sciatica, it is a good idea to visit your favorite chiropractor to determine what could be causing the issue. Chiropractic care is a great solution for any of these three causes.

If you are already under chiropractic care, try all three stretch routines and note which one helps the most. For the best results, do your stretches multiple times daily. The easiest time for many people is as soon as you get out of bed in the morning and at night before you fall asleep.

Subluxation Stretches

If your sciatic is being caused by an alignment issue that is causing pressure on the nerves, the following two stretched may alleviate your pain.

Lie face up on the bed with your knees bent and feet flat. Draw abdominals in to flatten lower back into the bed. Hold for 5 seconds, then return to start position for 1 repetition. Do 10 reps.

Lie on your back and slowly hug your knees to your chest, allowing your low back to round. Hold for 30 seconds for 1 rep. If this stretch lessens the pain in your legs, do 3 reps and then move on to the next stretch. If not, try the next routine for tight hip muscles.

Tight Hip Muscles

These stretches can loosen muscles in the hips that may be pressing on the sciatic nerve.

Lie on your back with legs extended, feet flexed. Lift your right leg and clasp your hands behind the knee. Gently pull your right knee across your body and toward your left shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds for 1 rep. Do 3 reps. Switch legs and repeat.

Lie on your back with bent knees, feet flat on bed. Cross your right ankle over your left knee (in the shape of a "4"). Grasp your hands behind your left knee and gently pull your legs toward chest as you press right knee away from your chest. Hold for 30 seconds for 1 rep. Do 3 reps. Switch legs and repeat.

Herniated Disc

The following two stretches should be used if you know your sciatica is being caused by a herniated disc.

Start on your stomach with your elbows positioned directly under your shoulders and your forearms flat on the bed, parallel to one another. Lift your chest and extend through the spine from your tailbone to the top of your neck; allow your back to arch. Hold for 30 seconds for 1 repetition, breathing deeply. If the pain in your legs lessens, do 2 more reps and then move on to the next stretch in this sequence. If you don't feel relief, skip the next move and try the routine for sciatica related to bone degeneration.

Lie face down with your hands flat, next to your shoulders. Press your palms into the bed to lift your upper body up, keeping hips and pelvis rooted to the bed. Extend through the spine from the tailbone to the neck, allowing your back to arch. Stop lifting your chest if you feel any pressure in your lower back. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly lower back to the start position for one rep. Do 10 reps for 1 set; do 3 sets total.

Though these stretches can prove to be wildly beneficial, however, there is an underlying reason why the sciatic nerve is giving you such trouble that typically can not be addressed by stretching along. It is always a good idea to consult your chiropractic doctor before beginning a new stretch or exercise regimen.

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