Sciatica is caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve as a result of compression on the nerve by a vertebral disc or spinal joint. The sciatic nerve runs from the low back, down the back of the leg and continues to the foot. As a result, pain can manifest in the lower back, buttocks, legs and/or foot. Along with treatment from a health practitioner, there are exercises that you can do at home to help alleviate the discomfort associated with Sciatica.
Here are our top three Sciatica exercises to help get you reduce pain and get you moving again.
Sciatic Nerve Flossing
The concept of neural flossing might sound a bit unusual, but it is the idea of gently decreasing tension on the dura (connective tissue surrounding nerves) of the sciatic nerve. Think of releasing a spaghetti noodle stuck to the inside of a straw.
Start by laying on your back and raising one leg into the air. Leg range of motion (height from the ground) will vary depending on severity of Sciatica. You can place a pillow under your hips to help prop up your leg. Slowly and with control begin to flex and extend your ankle. Complete 2 sets of 10 foot flexions and extensions.
Lumbar Mobility Exercise
This gentle exercise will help alleviate discomfort in the lower back by reducing tension and compression on the sciatic nerve through increased hip mobility.
Start on all fours with your hands below your shoulders and knees under your hips. Begin to slowly rock back to your heels and then return to starting position. Remember to keep your spine neutral throughout the exercise. You should feel a gentle stretch through your low back. Continue to slowly rock back and forth for 2 sets of 10.
Femoral Nerve Gliding
This exercise is similar to the Sciatic Nerve Flossing in that it aims to gently reduce compression on the sciatic nerve and improve mobility.
Start by taking a knee and tilt your pelvis forward and down. As always, your back should remain a neutral position. Look back towards your foot. You should feel a pull along your hip flexor and down into your quads.