Best Stretches and Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief

    Sciatica Pain can be a difficult pain to live with. But with some simple stretches and exercises you build into your everyday routine, relief from sciatic pain can be easily found (depending on the cause of your sciatica).

    About Sciatica 

    Sciatica is a pain which travels through your lower back, down to your leg along the path of the sciatic nerve. This is caused by a compression of your spine which pinches the sciatic nerve. 

    For the most part, sciatica is caused by a compression of the sciatic nerve. This can occur from a weak core (which provides back support), to tight hamstrings which pull down your back. These are just a couple, among several, causes of sciatica.

    Stretches and Exercises for Sciatic Pain Relief

    Depending on the severity of your pain, there are core focuses which need to be considered when devising an exercise routine to provide relief against sciatic pain. 

    Outside of suffering an injury, which can lead to back trauma – Sciatica can develop with tight leg muscles; specifically hamstrings which can increase stress on the lower back. Or through a weak core – which provides support for the back and can help assist with developing a good posture. 

    Your stretching and exercise routine needs to be gentle to prevent making the issue worse, but cover: 

    Hamstring Stretches

    Your hamstring muscles are connected to the lower back. Tight hamstrings will pull on your lower back, which has the effect of tilting your pelvis back and the spine to tilt forward in response. 

    This strain creates more pressure on your spine and can aggravate a bulging or herniated disc. Keeping flexible hamstrings helps reduce the strain of your back, and therefore your discs. 

    Core Strength

    Your abdominal muscles are the support structures of your spine. They essentially provide the front stability keeping your spine upright and erect. So, it follows if your core is weak, then your back muscles need to work harder – increasing the likelihood of creating tension in your spine. 

    Your therapist may recommend a variety of stretches and exercises to perform each day, including: 

    • Knees to chest
    • Lying hip stretch
    • Seated hip stretch
    • Hamstring stretches
    • Pelvic tilt

    Knees to Chest

    The knee to chest movement helps stretch out your hips and lower back muscles, which help relieve the pressure on your spine. 

    There are a couple of variations to perform this stretch. The first, using one leg at a time: 

    • Lie flat on your back on a solid, even surface with your legs stretched out 
    • Pull one knee towards your chest, and hold this pose with your hands pulling the knee close to your chest
    • Hold for 10-15 seconds while you feel the stretch
    • Rest – move the leg gently back to starting position and repeat with the opposing leg. 

    You can also do this stretch with both legs simultaneously. 

    Pelvic Tilt

    This exercise is suitable if you’re suffering from sciatica caused by spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is a condition which causes the lower vertebrae to slip forward on top of the bone beneath it. 

    Pelvic Tilt stretches can help relieve and correct this issue. Here’s how to do it: 

    • Lie flat on your back on a solid, even surface with your legs stretched out 
    • Bring your feet towards your body, while elevating your knees
    • Keep your back flat against the floor. You’ll need to tighten your core muscles to push your back down – and then hold this position for 10-15 seconds. 
    • Relax, and stretch out your legs. 
    • Repeat this for 10 repetitions, 2 – 3 times

    Seated Hip Stretch

    This stretch can help relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve, by creating a space between the discs in the spine. It’s relatively straight forward: 

    • Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight, and the left leg positioned over your right leg, with your foot flat on the floor by your knee. 
    • Using your arms and your elbow, place your elbow on your upright knee and turn your body gently. 
    • Hold this stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 times before switching legs and turning to the opposing side. 

    Hamstring Stretch

    A tight hamstring muscle can worsen the pain on your sciatic nerve. Tight hamstrings pull on your pelvis, which increases the stress placed on your lower back. 

    standing hamstring stretch
    Woman demonstrating a standing hamstring stretch

    There are several ways you can stretch your hamstrings, with the most effective usually being the Standing Hamstring Stretch. 

    To do this: 

    • Keeping both feet flat on the floor, cross your right foot in front of your left foot (you don’t have to cross if it’s too difficult)
    • Keeping your legs / knees straight, lower your forehead down to your knee by bending your waist
    • Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat 3 to 4 times, alternating which foot is crossed over

    Another, simpler hamstring stretch for sciatica relief is the Sitting Hamstring Stretch:

    • Sit on the floor, with one leg straight outward, and the other leg bended at the knee with your foot touching your thigh
    • Extending your arms, move your head closer to your extended foot using your waist
    • Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds
    • Relax. Then repeat 3 to 4 times, alternating which leg is stretched out. 
    sitting hamstring stretch
    Woman demonstrating a sitting hamstring stretch


    The key focus behind your exercises and stretches should be to work on your hamstrings / legs and your core strength.

    By focusing on these two groups, you can help prevent risk of sciatic damage and other lower back pain issues. 

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    About the Author

    Nav is the founder of Hypermind which is driven on the mission to merge Technology with things that really matter - including Health and Wellbeing.

    asante Wellbeing does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or on our branded channels is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. You should always consult a medical professional who can advise you on your own circumstances.


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