Sciatica exercises are designed to increase flexibility and strength in the muscles around the sciatic nerve. Back in the day, we walked the earth, hunting and gathering, while regularly using all of our muscles. Today, we move and exercise less often, and when we do use our muscles, some muscles are stressed more than others. Our bodies are designed for c0onstant motion when we are awake, and to fully use all the muscles in our bodies. Too often, though, we are forced to maintain rigid postures when we are sitting in office chairs, standing, at work stations, and bouncing in heavy machinery. These movements and postures may cause us to certain muscles and underuse others. These movements and postures may stress some of the muscles in our body too much, to the point where they become tense or go into spasm. Many physicians believe that muscle tightness and inflexibility is the cause of many cases of sciatica. Conversely, it is believed that sciatica exercises may be the cure to sciatica symptoms caused by the muscular problems. Here is a list of some of the most effective exercises that are designed to increase flexibility in and around the lumbosacral spine.
- Back Stretch: Lie on your back (supine) with your hands folded behind your head. Bring your knees together and bend your leg at the knee. In one motion, swing your legs to one side, keeping your back and torso in the supine position. Hold the position for at least ten seconds at you bring you knee close to the ground. Next swing your legs the other way so that your opposite knee is brought towards the ground. Repeat this exercise three times on each side. These motions are designed to stretch the back muscles.
- Deep Lunge: First stand tall, with your feet close together. Next, take a deep lunge forward, using your hands to balance yourselves on the knee of the forward leg. Your back leg will be slightly bent as you bring your body all the way forward. You should lunge forward until your forward leg is bent just past a 90 degree angle. Hold your position for 5 seconds, and then slowly raise your body up. Before repeating this lunge with the opposite leg. Repeat this movement 3 times for each side. Throughout each motion, keep your back straight and face forwards. This exercise stretches the muscles in front of the thigh and abdomen.
- One-leg stand - front: With the next two exercises, you will need access to a wall, chair, and cushion to stretch the muscles in the front and back of the thigh. For the first leg stand, stand directly in front of a wall at a distance of about a foot and a half. With your left arm straight, brace yourself with the wall, with your hand slightly above your shoulders. Grab your left foot with your left hand, and bring your foot towards your buttocks until you feel a comfortable stretch in the front of your thigh (Quadriceps femoris). Hold this comfortable stretch for ten seconds, before you repeat this motion with the opposite of your body to stretch the right thigh. Repeat 3 times on each side.
- One-leg stand- back: This exercise is designed to stretch the muscles on the back of your thigh (hamstrings). Position a chair directly in front of you, at a distance where you may be able to place the bottom of your foot on it with a straight leg. Put a pillow, towel or cushion on the chair so that you may be able to rest your foot comfortably on it. Next, bring your left leg and balance it on the chair in front of you. The leg on the chair and your other leg should both be straight at this point. When in this position, it should stretch the hamstrings. Repeat this motion/exercise three times on each side.
- Knee to Chest: This motion stretches the muscles of the gluteals and the piriformis muscles. These muscles may put pressure on the sciatic nerve when they are chronically tight. Lay flat on the ground, with both legs straight. Next, bend one leg, and put both hands behind the knee of the raised leg. Pull gently, bringing the raised knee towards your chest. Bring the leg up until you feel a comfortable stretch, and then hold it for 5-10 seconds. Repeat up to 5 times for each side.