Piriformis Stretch To Treat Your Sciatica
The piriformis is a small muscle in the buttocks that can irritate the sciatic nerve when the muscle gets tight. How to stretch your left piriformis- lay on your back with your right knee bent (foot flat on the ground/bed). Cross your left leg over the right knee. Pull your left knee towards your right shoulder. Hold for 30-60 seconds at a mild-moderate stretch. You should feel the stretch in your buttocks. Repeat on the other leg. Perform 2-3 times a day.
Tennis Ball Release
You may feel a certain point in your buttocks that is particularly painful or sensitive. Stand at a wall with a tennis ball between the wall and that sensitive point on your buttocks. Lean into the tennis ball until you feel mild-moderate discomfort but nothing more extreme. Hold for 1-2 minutes or less depending if you feel relief sooner. This release again targets the piriformis muscle which may be tight or in spasm. You can perform several times a day, depending on how severe your symptoms are.
Sciatic Nerve Glide
Lay on your back. To glide the left sciatic nerve- bend your right knee and keep it there at rest. Grab underneath your left knee and bring your knee so it is level with your right knee. Kick out your left knee and start pumping your left foot/ankle up and down 10-15 times. You should feel a comfortable pull along the back of your left leg. Repeat on the other leg. You may perform this 2-3 times depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sit in a chair, close to the edge. To stretch the left hamstring- straighten your left leg out in front of you, ensuring that your knee is straight. Keep your back upright, your shoulders and head back, and bend forward at the waist until you feel a pull in the back of your left leg. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat on the other leg. You can perform 1-3 times a day.
Single Knee to Chest Stretch
Lay on your back. To stretch the left side- keep your right knee bent with your foot flat. Hook your hands under your left knee and bring your left knee up towards your chest until you feel a gentle low back stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat on the other leg. You can perform 1-3 times a day.
Not all exercises are appropriate for all people. The exercises listed above may be uncomfortable, but they should not be performed to the point of pain. The above exercises will help release or loosen the muscles that may be tight around the sciatic nerve which may be further irritating your pain, and/or help the sciatic nerve glide more freely to translate into helping with pain free mobility. Always talk with your physical therapist before beginning an exercise program.
Please call Aquacare Physical Therapy at any of our Maryland or Delaware offices to set up an evaluation or free consultation to discuss your specific goals or deficits.
Written by Marisa Newcomb, PTA at Aquacare Physical Therapy’s office in Millville, DE.