Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sciatica Stretches to Strengthen Your Back

Back Flexion Stretch
The back flexion stretch stretches and strengthens muscles in the back and reduces sciatic nerve spasms. Begin by lying on your back. Bring both knees toward your chest and simultaneously bring your head towards your knee to enter a ball up position. Hold this position for eight to 10 seconds and complete eight to 12 repetitions of this stretch.
This physical therapy stretch targets the lower back. To perform, lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and contract your stomach muscles, lifting your upper back off the floor. Curl your head in slightly as you lift up to feel the stretch down your spine. Do not attempt to lift your lower back off the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then lower your body to return to your starting position. Repeat this exercise three times.
Piriformis Stretch Exercise
To loosen the piriformis muscle, lie on your back on a mat, knees bent, arms and palms down at your sides. Place your right ankle above your left knee and rotate the hip outward so your knee is pointing to the side. Lift your left foot off the floor and draw the knee toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your buttocks. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds or longer, breathing deeply. Visualize the muscles elongating as you relax into your stretch. Repeat, placing the left ankle over the right knee.
Hamstring Stretch
According to Ron S. Miller, physical therapist for, it is vital that you perform exercises carefully tailored to treat the cause of your sciatic pain. Performing inappropriate exercises can worsen the condition. Hamstring stretching, however, yields benefits for most sciatic issues. Tight hamstrings, located at the back of the thigh, can lead to back stress and sciatic nerve pain. Stretching your hamstrings can alleviate undo stress.
If you suffer from ongoing sciatica, Miller recommends executing the hamstring stretch while lying on your back. Raise your leg straight up toward the ceiling, and hold it in position by placing your hand behind your knee. With the bottom of your foot facing the ceiling, straighten your knee until you feel the back of your thigh stretch. Hold the position for 10 seconds, gradually working up to 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Low Back Stretch
Before starting any exercise program you should consult with your physician to determine treatment. If your medical provider suggests exercise, the low back stretch may help adjust your posture, improve flexibility and mobilization and heal your sciatic nerve problems. Dr. Marilyn Moffat, professor of Physical Therapy at New York University and author of "The American Physical Therapy Association Book of Body Maintenance and Repair," says that the exercise targets tight and inflexible muscles located in the lower back and buttocks. The lower back stretch helps you recover from a sciatica attack, as well as reducing the likelihood of future flare-ups.
Lie on your back with your knees bent at about a 60 degree angle and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your tummy and keep your neck straight. Press the small of your back into the floor and inhale. Slowly draw your knees toward your chest, clasping your hands underneath your knees to help hold the position. Exhale as you stretch for 10 to 20 seconds. Release one knee at a time, and return to the start position.