What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition of shooting pain down the leg, which typically originates from the hip and goes down the back of the thigh. Sciatica is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve (the sciatic nerve is made up from the sacral and lumbar nerve roots in the bottom of the spine, and extends down behind the hip joint, and runs down the thigh).
Sciatica can affect one or both legs, but usually just one. In severe cases, sciatica pain reaches all the way into the feet and toes, causing discomfort and eventually loss of feeling.
The most common place for the sciatic nerve to be compressed (impinged) is under one of the hip muscles called the piriformis. When this muscle gets tight, it presses down on the nerve and causes sciatica symptoms. In some people, their sciatic nerve actually grows through the piriformis. Thank goodness there are stretches for sciatica!
If your piriformis muscles are tight, it is almost certain that the surrounding hip muscles – the hip flexors, inner thighs, and hamstrings – are tight too. Some simple stretches and massage therapy can generally relax your muscles and calm down the sciatica pain.
Stretches for Sciatica
The above video shows a few effective stretches for sciatica:
Pigeon – The pigeon stretch for sciatica directly stretches the piriformis and other hip rotators. Please note the video’s improvements and adjustments to the traditional yoga pigeon stretch.
Hip Flexor Stretches – The kneeling 90/90 stretch for the hip flexors (sometimes called the half-kneeling stretch) is my favorite hip flexor stretch that you can do on your own. In order to relieve sciatica, you’ll need to stretch the hip flexors so your pelvis becomes more vertical.
Myofascial release on the foam roller is often helpful for tight quads and hips.
Figure 4 Stretch – The seated figure four stretch is a lifesaver for sciatica relief. You can also do it lying down.
Other Cures For Sciatica
Please note that this brief stretching video only addresses a few of the most common conditions of hip tightness. I don’t touch on any spine issues, and you may have some. If you work on these simple stretches for a week and you don’t see any improvement in your sciatica symptoms, seek out the advice of a qualified physical medicine specialist for investigation, diagnosis, and solutions.