Virtual physical therapy exercises are effective treatments for relieving, treating, and preventing sciatic nerve pain. If you suffer from sciatica, a customized course of care from a licensed and educated physical therapist can provide relief.
Sciatic nerve pain signs and symptoms
People suffering from sciatic pain typical notice the following symptoms:
- Lower back, hip, and/or leg pain
- Numbness, tingling, and/or weakness in the glutes, thigh, leg, or foot
The pain can be caused from a ruptured disk, injury, or nerve root compression in the spine. Sciatic nerve pain can be debilitating in certain cases, but physical therapy exercises can alleviate the pain. Because PTs are specifically trained in manual therapy and exercise and rehabilitation exercises, they can provide real relief to anyone suffering from sciatic nerve pain.
Exercises to help with sciatica
Physical therapy exercises help strengthen and mobilize tissues in the pelvic, lower back, glutes, thighs, and abdomen. Consult with your physical therapist for specific exercises. But if you would like to attempt pain relief alone, these stretches may provide relief. By doing the prescribed exercises, you should restore pain-free movement patterns, relieve lower back, leg, and thigh pain, and prevent future pain flare ups, among other improvements.
1. Reclining Pigeon Pose
Pigeon pose works to open the hips. If you’re starting treatment for sciatic nerve pain, the reclining pigeon pose is a great stretch to start with.
- Start by laying on your back and bring your right leg up at a right angle. Clasp both hands behind the thigh and lock your fingers.
- Lift your left leg and place your right angle on top of your left knee.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds. This stretches the piriformis muscle, which can sometimes be inflamed and presses against the sciatic nerve, causing pain.
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
2. Sitting Pigeon Pose
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you.
- Bend your left leg, putting your left ankle on top of your left knee.
- Lean forward and all your upper body to reach to your thigh.
- Hold for 15 – 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch in your glutes and lower back.
- Repeat on your right side.
3. Knee to Opposite Shoulder
The knee to opposite shoulder stretch helps relieve sciatic pain by loosening your gluteal and piriformis muscles. These muscles can become inflamed and can press against the sciatic nerve.
- Start by laying on your back with legs extended and feet pointed upward.
- Bend your left leg and clasp your hands around the knee.
- Gently pull your left leg across your body toward your right shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds. Don’t pull your knee to the point where it causes pain. The stretch should provide relief to the muscles, not pain.
- Push your knee back to the starting position.
- Repeat for a total of 3 reps, then switch to the opposite side.
4. Standing Hamstring Stretch
The standing hamstring stretch can provide relief and ease tightness in the hamstring caused by sciatica.
- Place your left foot on an elevated surface at or below hip level. Household items like a chair, step, or ottoman will work. Flex the foot so your toes and leg are straight. If your knee tends to hyperextend, be sure to keep it slightly bent.
- Bend your body forward slightly toward your foot. The further you go, the deeper the stretch will become. Remember to not push past pain.
- Release the hip of your raised leg downward as opposed to lifting the leg back up. If you need help to ease the hip back down, try looping a yoga strap or long band over your right thigh and under your left foot.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with the opposite side.
Exercise cautiously and speak to a physical therapist
The exercises mentioned above can provide relief for sciatic nerve pain, but remember that you may not be as flexible as they call for. Adjust them slightly to accommodate your level of flexibility and pain levels.
If you’re experiencing sciatic nerve pain and want to go a step beyond self-prescribed exercises, a virtual physical therapist can help. Agile connects patients with licensed and highly educated physical therapists who are movement experts. Schedule a free screening to get started!