You’ve heard yourself say it often and very likely accompanied with an audible groan: “It’s my sciatica; it hurts so bad.”
This severe ache is centered in your lower back and radiates a pulsating pain down your buttocks and through your legs. The pain stops you in your tracks. It can even be so intense that you may feel nauseous, rendering you unable to move and go about your daily activities.
“No one should live with sciatica pain, and it’s important to realize you can feel healthy again,” says Dr. Todd Sinett, a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist and creator of the Backbridge.
Sciatica lower back pain, explains Dr. Sinett, is specifically an ailment where the sciatic nerve is being pinched and causing an uncomfortable intense throbbing throughout the lower body. It occurs when the pelvis is imbalanced. When your pelvis is misaligned, it can hit against the sciatic nerve and irritate it. Of course, it feels quite much more than a minor irritation.
To help cure this pain, Dr. Sinett says to begin a stretch regimen to address the misalignment and poor posture issues. “We want to tackle the issue from the standpoint that the body is not aligned properly,” Dr. Sinett says. “If we begin to work on our body to adjust its placement on the pelvis, then sciatica pain relief will come.”
Dr. Sinett cautious though that the phrasing ‘sciatica pain’ is often used as a catchall for all lower back pain; if you’re not 100 percent sure why your lower back aches it’s important to see a physician to determine what specifically is happening with your body before trying to fix it on your own.
For those that are certain, ahead are five key stretches you can do to help heal your sciatica.
All stretches are done in tandem with the Backbridge and should be done daily for optimal results. As you do these, check in often with your body to ensure you’re not feeling extra pain and that the stretches feel good. It’s also important to not over do these stretches, but to do each one nice and slow to prevent more pain and injury.
Sciatica Stretch #1
Sit at the base of the Backbridge. Lie back so that the highest point of the Backbridge is between your shoulder blades and your head is touching the floor. Rest your arms on the ground behind your head and hold this stretch for 2 minutes. You can do this stretch with your legs extended or your knees bent. Level 1 is the easiest and 5 is the hardest. Pick a level that is most comfortable for you. It should feel like a good stretch. After a few weeks, slowly progress to the next level.
Sciatica Stretch #2
Lie on your back, placing the Backbridge under your knees. The level doesn’t affect the stretch here, so choose which feels most comfortable. Reach your arms over head to lengthen the spine.
Sciatica Stretch #3
Knees to Chest
For a low back stretch, place your buttocks on the highest point of the Backbridge and lay back on the mat. Wrap your hands behind your knees and gently pull your knees to your chest while reaching and lengthening your tailbone down towards the Backbridge. Hold for a few seconds. If you have trouble wrapping your hands around your knees, you can place them behind your legs on the back of your thighs. The higher level of the Backbridge you use in this posture, the more intense the stretch.
Sciatica Stretch #4
Single Knee to Chest Stretch
Set up like the Knees to Chest stretch but pull one leg toward your chest and extend the opposite leg over the Backbridge and along the mat. By gently angling the knee inward or outward, you will stretch different parts of your hip flexors. Switch legs and repeat.
Sciatica Stretch #5
Piriformis and Outer Hip Stretch
Place your buttocks on the highest point of the Backbridge and lie back on the mat. With both knees bent, cross one leg over the other. Wrap your hands behind your uncrossed leg (or bottom knee) and gently pull towards you. Keep the foot of the crossed leg flexed to protect your knee. Switch legs and repeat.
Want more rewarding stretches for the rest of your body? Refer to Dr. Sinett’s book The Ultimate Backbridge Stretch Book.