Anyone who has endured the discomfort and pain associated with sciatica, the condition related to the sciatic nerve, knows that finding healing and relief is more than just welcomed; it’s paramount. Sciatica can be caused by a number of underlying issues and typically causes inflammation, pain, and even numbness in one leg (though both can be affected).
In most cases, sciatica resolves itself. You can even use exercises and stretching to limit the risk of sciatica and reduce symptoms when it does occur.
One of the best forms of exercise to counteract sciatica is yoga. This exercise and stretching hybrid is perfect for releasing tension and strengthening the areas of the body most associated with sciatica. That’s why we’ve assembled our favorite yoga poses for sciatica!
While it won’t help you fly, the pigeon pose is an excellent stretch to incorporate into your sciatica-relief program. This pose can be performed either in a chair or on the ground depending on your mobility.
To perform it, place one leg in front of your body with your knee bent and the front of your shin pointed forward. Your other leg should be positioned as though you are sitting normally (seated version) or stretched out straight behind you (supine version). Once you are in position, you can gently lean forward to create a stretch.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
This classic yoga pose, also named after an animal, is fantastic for stretching and strengthening the back and hamstrings (among other muscles). It’s easy to perform and can be scaled to your experience and fitness level.
Simply get into the starting position, which should resemble the top portion of a pushup. Push your hips back and up, as if you are stretching toward the ceiling. At the same time, your head should follow the path of your spine, moving downward with your ears between your upper arms. Return to the starting position.
Downward-facing dog pose allows you to experiment with different movements and variations as you improve, making it a valuable tool throughout your fitness and sciatica journeys.
While not as harmless as a pigeon or as cuddly as a dog, the cobra holds its own when it comes to yoga poses. The cobra pose can work wonders for your sciatica and your overall health by strengthening your back.
Start by lying on your stomach with your hands placed beneath your shoulders. Throughout the movement, keep your elbows tight to your sides. Press upward through your hands as you lift your upper body off the ground. Keep your lower body—from the hips down—firmly in contact with the ground. Hold the top position as long as you can (up to 30 seconds), then return to the ground in a controlled manner.
Sitting Half Spinal Twist Pose
The only non-animal pose on our list happens to be a mouthful. The sitting half spinal twist pose is a phenomenal tool for activating the back and core, releasing pent up stiffness in the hips, and increasing overall flexibility.
Beginning in a seated position, cross one leg over so that your foot is on the outside of the opposite hip and your knee is pointed to the front or side. Your other leg should then cross over, and that foot should align with the outside of the opposite thigh.
Supporting yourself with one hand and holding the high leg with the other, gently twist your upper body, allowing your spine and hips to stretch. With steady breathing, repeat and hold the stretch before switching the position and performing the pose on the opposite side.
Sciatica doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks. With some simple stretching and strengthening, you can overcome it. Before you dive headfirst into a new yoga regimen, you should speak to your doctor about your fitness, the severity of your condition, and any risk factors you may have. They’ll be able to recommend the perfect program for you, more thoroughly explain the poses you should consider, and give you comprehensive advice!