8 Best Sciatica Exercises for Coping with Sciatica Pain

exercises for sciatic nerve pain

Sciatica Exercises

Sciatica is a lower back problem that causes a wide range of symptoms. The sciatic nerve begins in the lower spine and runs down both legs. As a result, the pain, numbness, or burning sensation is often felt in one hip as well as in the buttock and leg on the same side.

When in pain, it can be tempting to avoid all exercise, and of course, you would want to discuss any new exercise program with a doctor. However, exercise is a vital part of spine health, and there are some exercises that may strengthen the core and help you to relieve some of the pain.

We are going to discuss a natural way to deal with sciatica on a long-term basis, but first, let’s look at eight sciatica exercises that may offer some relief.

Exercises for Sciatic Nerve Pain

#1 – Curl-Ups

This sciatica exercise starts flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head, but remember that they are just there for support. Don’t pull yourself up by your head or you will strain your neck. Use your abs to raise your head and shoulders off of the floor. Hold this position for three seconds and then relax. Try to start with 10 repetitions and gradually increase how many curl-ups you can perform.

#2 – Superman Stretch

For this exercise, lay flat on your stomach with your arms about your head. Tighten your abs so you raise your arms, head, chest, and legs off the ground. Gradually work your way up until you can hold each rep for five seconds. This helps to strengthen the lower back which is important for sciatica exercises.

#3 – Hip Raises

Begin by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your arms at your sides. Raise your hips off the ground so that you make a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. This is a great exercise for the lower back and glutes.

#4 – Planking

Instead of getting into push-up position, rest on your forearms and toes. Keep your elbow in line with your shoulder. You should immediately feel the need to use your abs to keep your midsection from sagging toward the ground. Work your way up to holding the plank position for 60 seconds at a time. This can be an effective one to add into the mix when looking for sciatica exercises.

#5 – Side Plank

Another sciatica exercise, this works the muscles at the sides of your abdomen. Lay on one side and then raise yourself up on one forearm. Again, the elbow should be directly below the shoulder. Don’t allow your hip to sag toward the ground. Try to create a straight line from your feet to your head.

#6 Leg-Raises

This is performed flat on your back with your arms at your sides. Lift one leg at a time just a few inches off the ground and keep it straight. Try holding it for a few seconds. Do 10-15 reps on each side.

#7 Piriformis Stretch

Lay on your back with your knees bent. Cross your left ankle over your right knee. Wrap your hands behind your right knee and gently pull it toward your chest. Try to hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Then switch legs and stretch the other side. The piriformis muscle and sciatic nerve share close proximity, so this stretch is an important one.

#8 Bird Dog

This exercise starts out on your hands and knees. Then you alternate stretching one leg back with the opposite arm forward. Alternate sides and try to do 10 reaches on each side. Alternately, you could perform an exercise called the dead bug which involves the same motions but laying on your back.  

These are eight of the most effective sciatica exercises you can find.

Seeking Natural Relief from Sciatica Pain

If you are coping with the intense pain of sciatica, you may find that NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are the primary way a doctor is trying to control your symptoms. However, there may be a natural way to help you get relief along with the sciatica exercises we have already discussed.

If you are tired of the side effects of pain relievers and don’t want to opt for expensive and dangerous surgeries without exhausting every option, then we’d like to provide you with some hope. Upper cervical chiropractic has been able to help many people to deal with their back pain. But how can the neck be the cause of your lower back issues?

The Upper Cervical Spine and Sciatica

The spine functions from the top down. In other words, when the top two bones of your neck are out of alignment, the rest of the spine shifts to compensate – particularly to keep the head level. This can lead to changes throughout the back. While you may not have any neck pain, the problem is that pain usually occurs where the greatest changes take place. A misalignment of a fraction of a millimeter in the neck can lead to a major change in the lower spine that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic strives to correct the initial misalignment so that the natural healing abilities of the body can get to work. It makes sense that if the spine shifted out of position to compensate for this misalignment, it would shift back when the misalignment is corrected. This has been the case for many patients. 

Several studies and resources have explored the relationship between upper cervical chiropractic care and sciatica. Here are some key findings:

  • A study published in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research in 2013 reported significant improvements in sciatica pain after upper cervical chiropractic adjustments.
  • Another study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in 2011 also reported positive outcomes for sciatica patients who received upper cervical chiropractic care.
  • A case report published in 2021 documented the reduction in pain, paresthesia, and improved quality of life in a patient with sciatica following upper cervical chiropractic care.
  • An article on the website of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) discussed the benefits of upper cervical care for those experiencing sciatica and other health issues.
  • A narrative review published on PMC provided insight into the history, evolution, and current status of upper cervical or craniocervical chiropractic procedures, including their use in delivering upper cervical chiropractic care.

These resources suggest that there is significant evidence to support the effectiveness of upper cervical chiropractic care in managing sciatica. To learn more about a specific case of upper cervical chiropractic and sciatica watch the video below.

Sciatica exercises for sciatic nerve pain

Frequently Asked Questions About Sciatica and Sciatica Exercises

Here are some frequently asked questions about sciatica along with their answers:

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

Sciatica symptoms range from low back pain to pain that radiates down your hips, buttocks, and leg.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is the name given to pain that is caused when the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated.

How is sciatica affecting your quality of life?

Sciatica pain may extend from the lower back, through the back of your thigh, to your foot. The pain can come and go, sometimes lingering for days and even weeks. This may cause anything from mild discomfort to making the simplest tasks intolerable. Sitting could be painful with sciatica — and driving even more so. As you contemplate surgery for sciatica, consider how much the pain affects your quality of life. If your work, hobbies, social life, or relationships suffer from your being in constant pain, it may be time to think about surgery.

How is sciatica treated?

Because sciatica does not have one single cause, there is no one treatment that works for every person with sciatica. However, some common treatments include sciatica exercises, upper cervical chiropractic, physical therapy, medication, steroidal injections, and in some cases, surgery.

How long does it take for sciatica to go away?

Sciatica can be acute or chronic. An acute episode of sciatica pain may last between one and two weeks and usually resolves itself in a few weeks. Sciatic episodes can also happen multiple times in a year. Combining sciatica exercises along with upper cervical chiropractic is an extremely effective way to get sciatica to go away faster.

Does walking help sciatica?

Yes! Walking is an effective approach for relieving sciatic pain and one of the most effective of the sciatica exercises. Walking helps the release of pain-fighting endorphins and reduces inflammation. Just make sure to follow the proper walking posture as poor walking posture may aggravate sciatica symptoms.

Can losing weight help sciatica?

Yes, weight loss can help in alleviating sciatica pain. It will help reduce inflammation and stress on the sciatic nerve.

To learn more about upper cervical chiropractic care and sciatica exercises how it may be able to help you, we encourage you to seek out a consultation with a practitioner in your local area.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.