Chiropractor for Algonquin and Lake in the Hills
Woman doing a sciatica stretch for pain relief

Top 3 Most Effective Sciatic Nerve Stretches for Pain Relief

Apart from the spinal cord, the sciatic nerve is among the biggest in the human body, running from the lower back through the buttocks to the feet.

Spinal aging, trauma, repetitive physical tasks, falls, congenital spinal conditions and other factors can cause this nerve to take a beating. In particular, excess activity can increase pressure on lumbar spinal discs enough for them to rupture or herniate.

The usual cause of sciatic leg pain, numbness and weakness is a lumbar spine disc condition in the lower back that puts pressure on the spinal nerve root, which sends messages to your legs and feet.

Sciatica is a product of the resulting damage, which manifests as pain, tingling and potential weakness in the feet, legs, buttocks or low back.

Sciatica is certainly a common ailment. In fact, Hippocrates may have been the one to discover it thousands of years ago. A serious condition, sciatica causes thousands of people to have low back surgery, but as a BlueCross BluleShield study reveals, up to 70% of lumbar surgeries may be unnecessary in contrast against Algonquin Chiropractic Center’s lumbar spine protocols, which yield a 91% success rate!

If you want to relieve your pain, you can get started on several sciatic nerve stretches for pain relief. Along with a medical professional’s help, you can weave the following best stretches and exercises for sciatica pain relief into your daily routine immediately after reading this blog.

1. Knee-to-Chest Stretch

If you want to know how to stop sciatica pain fast, this stretch is the simplest way to achieve immediate relief from pain of most intensities. It’s also mild, so injuring yourself is unlikely. Here’s how to go about it.

  1. Lie on your back. You can use your bed, if you’d like.
  2. Interlock your fingers about one knee, and pull it to your chest.
  3. Hold this for no more than 20 seconds, as overstretching may hurt you.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 three times for both legs.
  5. If you’re able, perform this stretch by interlocking your fingers around both legs at the same time, and hold your legs to your chest for 20 seconds. To avoid fatigue, do this last step only once.

The knee-to-chest stretch is one of the safest, most tolerable ways to relax the glutes and other muscles in the lower back. The only time you shouldn’t do this mild stretch is when your leg pain increases, as this is a sign that you’re just irritating the nerve even more.

2. Cat-Camel Stretch

Despite its name, this sciatic nerve stretch for pain relief doesn’t involve gene splicing. Rather, it involves dedication and a touch of technique. Common in yoga, the cat-camel stretch can be difficult to achieve for new patients with the most severe pain. Once patients start to heal, this task becomes much easier.

  1. Get on your hands and knees.
  2. Arch your back up like an angry cat while looking down at your thighs.
  3. With a slow, controlled motion, arch your back down like a camel while gazing at the ceiling.
  4. Oscillate between these two extremes until your back feels better. Dr. Galante recommends three sets of 15 reps.

Though you may have to begin with knee-to-chest stretches, the cat-camel stretch is a great way to loosen all muscles in the lower back, and you can count on it to relieve pain once you’re well enough. As with knee-to-chest stretches, only stop if the stretch increases leg pain.

3. Figure-Four Stretch

The figure-four stretch is another effective way to address lower back and hip pain, but what we like most about it is that patients can do it in a simple sitting position. You can perform this portable technique in a coffee shop, at work, or stopped at a red light.

  1. Sit up straight and cross one leg over the other (put your car in park).
  2. Keeping your trunk as still as possible, put one hand on your ankle and the other hand on your knee.
  3. For 20 seconds, push your knee down to enjoy a mild pull on the inside of your hip.
  4. For another 20 seconds, interlock your fingers around the same knee to pull it across your body, as this is an effective way to loosen the glutes.
  5. Rinse and repeat for your other knee.

How Can I Get Started with These Sciatic Nerve Stretches for Pain Relief?

The best time to perform these stretches is first thing in the morning. Sciatica is distinct from other forms of nerve damage in that, similar to joint pain, it comes and goes, though it’s worst in the morning.

In the morning, the spine is full of fluid because we lie horizontally without bearing any weight. Overnight, discs absorb fluid that stretches their damaged fibers enough to increase low back, hip and leg pain. Movement is the best way to remove fluid from discs!

So complete those sciatic nerve stretches for pain relief before you get out of bed. You won’t have to worry about them for the rest of the day.

You can do these stretches anywhere. In fact, as our patients get stronger, they often enjoy doing these stretches in the gym before working out.

Wherever you decide to stretch, just remember to run through all stretches in one sitting. If you don’t, they’ll be harder to weave into your routine. At the start of treatment, you can do these stretches more than once a day to control your symptoms. As you go from the acute to the subacute stage, which usually takes 3-14 days, you should do these stretches at least once a day.

Now that you know how to relieve sciatica pain with stretches, you can finally get to work.

Man doing the cat-camel sciatica stretch
Sciatica stretches like the cat-camel will help decrease your sciatic nerve pain.

How Can I Contact a Chiropractor?

Because sciatica is so serious, taking a “wait-and-see” approach is a bad idea. Low back pain is the leading cause of chronic pain, disability and opioid addiction. You should see us immediately!

Ruptured discs, spinal stenosis and other injuries cause these burning, shooting and aching sensations to occur anywhere along the sciatic nerve. The stretches we recommend are a great place to start, but ultimately, you’ll need a medical professional’s guidance to get better and stay better.

Sciatica is more urgent than you may realize. If you see your doctor, he may give you steroids, which cause weight gain among other side effects, and opioid pain killers, which need no more than five doses to cause addiction. Pain management doctors will suggest injecting steroids into your spine, and orthopedic surgeons will want to do surgery. Patients can endure test after test and procedure after procedure for months with no relief.

At Algonquin Chiropractic Center, Dr. Anthony Galante and his team can expand upon your stretching regimen with skillful, hands-on treatment. Don’t settle for steroids, addictive painkillers and surgeries with months-long recovery times. You have options!

As a licensed chiropractor, Dr. Galante is certified in the Cox® Technic Flexion Distraction and Decompression method, an under-utilized method for quickly relieving back and leg pain.

To take your recovery to the next level, please call 847-854-2000 or email to schedule an appointment.