12 Sciatic Nerve Stretches (Leg Pain relief!)

Do you suffer from Sciatic Nerve pain that runs down the back of your leg? This blog post will cover a comprehensive list of the best Sciatic Nerve Stretches to help address this issue!


READ THIS FIRST BEFORE PROCEEDING: If your leg pain is specifically being referred from your Lumbar Spine, it is essential to address this area FIRST before stretching the Sciatic Nerve.

For more information: Bulged Disc Exercises.

How to stretch the Sciatic Nerve

The goal with the stretches is to improve the mobility/flexibility of the Sciatic Nerve.

This can help reduce Sciatica-related pain in the back of the leg.

What stretches can I do for Sciatic Nerve pain?

There are 3 types of Sciatic Nerve stretches that I recommend:

(Listed in order of intensity of the stretch.)

  1. Flossing (Gentle)
  2. Glides (Moderate)
  3. Stretches (Intense)

Recommendation: Gradually progress through the stretches as comfortably tolerated.

NOTE:
  • The following Sciatic nerve stretches are designed to be pain-free.
  • Aim to feel a deep (but comfortable) stretch along the back of the leg.
  • Reduce the stretch intensity if tingling/pain/numbness is produced.
  • Stretching can make Sciatica worse! If the stretches are too intense, it may suggest your condition is too irritable and not ready for them yet.
  • Do NOT overstretch the nerve.

1. Sciatic Nerve Flossing

(Intensity: Gentle)

This involves mobilizing the entire nerve towards the same direction.

Example of Sciatic Nerve Floss

a) Lying on the Floor (Leg straight)

sciatic nerve floss supine

Instructions:

  • (You will require assistance with this stretch.)
  • Lie down on the floor.
  • Keep the leg completely straight throughout this exercise.
  • Position 1:
    • Get your helper to lift your leg as high as possible as you point your foot forwards.
  • Position 2:
    • Get your helper to lower your leg slightly as you bring your foot backwards.
  • Aim to feel a very gentle stretch sensation at the back of your leg in both positions.
  • Alternate between these 2 positions.
  • Perform 30 repetitions.

b) Lying on the Floor with Knee movement

sciatic nerve floss on floor

Instructions:

  • Lie down on the floor.
  • Position 1: Pull the bent knee towards the chest.
  • Position 2: Straighten your leg as much as possible as you allow the knee to drop away from you. Point the foot forwards.
  • Aim to feel a very gentle stretch sensation at the back of your leg in both positions.
  • Alternate between these 2 positions.
  • Perform 30 repetitions.

c) Seated Torso Lean with Ankle Movement

sciatic nerve floss in sitting

Instructions:

  • Sit down on the edge of a chair.
  • Place your foot on top of a chair of similar height.
  • Keep your leg straight.
  • Position 1:
    • Lean your torso forwards as you point your foot forwards.
  • Position 2:
    • Lean your torso backwards as your bring your foot backwards.
  • Aim to feel a very gentle stretch sensation at the back of your leg in both positions.
  • Perform 30 repetitions.

2. Sciatica nerve glides

(Intensity: Moderate)

This involves fixating one end of the nerve whilst stretching the other end.

Example of Sciatic Nerve Glide

a) Lying on Floor (Leg straight)

sciatic nerve glide lying down

Instructions:

  • Lie down with your back on the floor.
  • Keep your leg completely straight throughout this exercise.
  • Raise your leg as high as possible until you feel a firm stretch in the back of your leg.
  • Lower the leg slightly and place the heel on an object that can support the weight of your leg.
  • Position 1: Whilst keeping the leg locked straight, bring your ankle backwards.
    • This should reproduce the stretch sensation in the back of the leg.
  • Position 2: Proceed to point the foot forwards.
    • This should completely eliminate the stretch.
  • Alternate between these 2 positions.
  • Perform 20-30 repetitions.

b) Lying on Floor with Knee movement

sciatic nerve glide on floor

Instructions:

  • Lie down with your back on the floor.
  • Bring and hold your hip to 90 degrees of flexion.
  • Keep your ankle bent backwards throughout exercise.
  • Position 1: Whilst keep in your knee in same position, proceed to straight your leg.
    • Aim to feel a stretch sensation at the back of your leg.
  • Position 2: Bend your knee
    • This should completely eliminate the stretch sensation.
  • Alternate between these 2 positions.
  • Perform 20-30 repetitions.

c) Seated Ankle Dorsiflexion

sciatic nerve glide in sitting

Instructions:

  • Sit on the edge of a chair.
  • Lean your torso slightly forwards.
  • Keep your leg straight throughout this exercise.
  • Position 1: Bend your ankle backwards.
    • This should increase the stretch in the back of the leg.
  • Position 2: Point your ankle forwards.
    • This should completely eliminate the stretch.
  • Alternate between these 2 position.
  • Perform 20-30 repetitions.

d) Seated Pelvic Tilt

upper sciatic nerve glide in sitting

Instructions:

  • Sit down on the edge of a chair.
  • Place the foot on a chair of similar height.
  • Keep your leg completely straight.
  • Point your foot forwards.
  • Position 1: Tilt your pelvis forwards and lean your torso forwards.
    • This should cause a stretch in the back of your leg.
  • Position 2: Tilt the pelvis backwards and lean torso backwards.
    • This should eliminate the stretch completely.
  • Alternate between these 2 positions.
  • Perform 20-30 repetitions.

e) Standing

Standing sciatic nerve glide

Instructions:

  • Place the foot onto a step in front of you.
  • Keep the leg completely straight.
  • Hinge forwards at the hips.
  • Position 1: Bring your ankle backwards.
    • Aim to feel a stretch in the back of your leg.
  • Position 2: Point your foot
    • This should reduce the stretch.
  • Alternate between these 2 positions.
  • Repeat 20-30 times.

3. Sciatic Nerve Stretches

(Intensity: High)

This involves stretching both ends of the nerve at the same time.

(Note: You will need to use a strap to perform the following stretches.)

Example of Sciatic Nerve Stretch

a) Supine (Straight Leg)

sciatic nerve stretch on floor

Instructions:

  • Lie down with your back on the floor.
  • Keep your leg completely straight throughout this exercise.
  • Raise your leg as high as possible.
  • Using a strap to wrap around the foot, pull the foot backwards.
  • Aim to feel a strong stretch sensation in the back of the leg.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

b) Seated Stretch

sciatic nerve stretch in sitting

Instructions:

  • Sit down on the edge of a chair.
  • Wrap a strap around the front of the foot.
  • Place the foot on a chair of similar height.
  • Keep your leg straight.
  • Using a strap, pull your foot backwards.
  • Lean the torso forwards as far as possible.
  • This should cause a strong stretch in the back of your leg.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

c) Twisted Floor Stretch

sciatic nerve stretch with spinal rotation

Instructions:

  • Lie down on the floor.
  • Wrap a strap around the front of the foot.
  • Proceed to bring your leg across to the other side of the body. (see above)
  • Keep the leg completely straight.
  • Using the strap, pull the foot backwards.
  • Aim to feel a strong stretch at the back of your leg.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

d) Standing Hinge

sciatic nerve stretch in standing

Instructions:

  • Wrap a strap around the front of the foot.
  • Place the foot onto a step.
  • Keep the leg completely straight throughout the exercise.
  • Hinge forwards at the hip.
  • Using the strap, pull the foot backwards.
  • Aim to feel a strong stretch in the back of your leg.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

Piriformis Stretches for Sciatica

The Sciatic Nerve can be compressed and irritated by a tight Piriformis muscle.

Stretching the Piriformis can give pain relief from Sciatica.


Here are 3 different ways to stretch it out:

a) Seated

seated piriformis stretch for sciatica

Instructions:

  • Sit up right on the edge of a chair.
  • Place your ankle on the other knee.
  • Place both hands under the knee.
  • Pull the knee towards the opposite shoulder.
  • Whilst keeping the lower back extended, lean the torso forwards.
  • Aim to feel a deep stretch in the buttocks.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

b) Supine

piriformis stretch sciatica on floor

Instructions:

  • (Movements are described in terms of stretching the Right side.)
  • Lie down on your back with your knees bent.
  • Place your right ankle on top of the left knee.
  • Grab and pull the left knee towards the chest.
  • Maintain an arch in your lower back.
  • Aim to feel a deep stretch in the right buttocks.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

c) Floor

piriformis stretch for sciatica pain

Instructions:

  • (Movements are described in terms of stretching the Right side.)
  • Position your right leg in front of you as shown above.
  • By moving from your pelvis, lean your torso forwards so that the left shoulder moves towards the right knee.
  • Aim to feel a deep stretch in the buttocks.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

Conclusion

These 12 Sciatic Nerve stretches can help improve the mobility of the nerve.

They are useful in reducing the neurological symptoms in the leg (such as Pain, Tingling and Numbness) associated with Sciatica.

Start with the more gentle nerve stretches and slowly progress to the more intense stretches as tolerated.

Make sure to focus on the stretch that gives you the most relief in your leg. (You do not have to do them all!)


What to do next

1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)

2. Come join me:

Facebook | Instagram

3. Start doing the exercises!

1 thought on “12 Sciatic Nerve Stretches (Leg Pain relief!)”

  1. Holding my leg up to reduce pain is what caused my lateral pelvic tilt.Leg length discrepancy is making it difficult to walk without help.Trying my best to work on this but very slow going.I really notice the length issue when I look at my knees .One knee is lower than the other.LOOKS TERRIBLE.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.