How to Relieve Sciatic Pain – 10-Minute At-Home Flow

Article by Lucas Rockwood

Do you have sciatica? Do you feel a radiating nerve pain down your butt, the back of your thigh, and maybe even down into your lower leg as well? If you’re looking for simple but effective exercises to reduce pain and heal strong, this video is for you.

In ninety percent of cases, sciatica is the result of an impinged nerve root upstream in the lumbar spine. The nerve pinch can come from a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or another inflammatory injury. The pain can vary from a mild ache to an electric shock and is often accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected leg. Sitting for long periods often makes it worse and while movement is required for healing, it can be challenging to determine what helps and what hurts.

In this guide you’ll find a 10-minute flow designed to increase circulation, reduce inflammation, and hopefully provide some pain relief.

Anatomy of Sciatic Pain

Your sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in your body, in some areas it’s as wide as 1.5 to 2mm. It starts at your lower back where five nerve roots at L4, L5, S1, S2, and S3 come together and run down the back of your leg, innervating your hamstrings and then branching out into most of the muscles of the lower leg. In this way, a sciatic nerve impingement way up in your lumbar spine can sometimes manifest in pain and weakness all the way down in your foot.

Download PDF Pose Chart

10-Minute Corrective Exercise Flow

Forward bending movements of all types often make sciatica worse, so the sequence of poses shared here are practiced with a slight lumbar curve throughout.

Nose Pointer Pose

  • Start on the floor on all fours, like a child crawling, with your back slightly arched
  • Gaze in front of you
  • Inhale, step your right leg back, and gently look up
  • Exhale, return your right leg to a crawl position
  • Inhale, step your left leg back, and gently look up
  • Exhale with control, back to a crawl position
  • Repeat five times on each leg

Sphinx Pose

  • From a crawling position, lower all the way down onto your belly like an Egyptian sphinx
  • Prop up on your forearms with your elbows directly under your shoulders, forearms and fingers flat on the floor
  • If you feel any pain or discomfort in your lower back or sciatic nerve, shuffle your elbows forward until the pain is gone. The movements here should be very subtle
  • Inhale, gently look up, use your forearms to pull your chest forward in a tiny movement
  • Exhale back to neutral
  • Repeat five times
  • Exhale back to neutral and lower down, lower your forehead and your forearms, and take a break

Extension Bicycles

  • Roll onto your back – this will work your core in a very gentle and controlled manner
  • Place a rolled-up pillow or towel under your lumbar spine for a slight lift
  • Extend your arms straight towards your knees and spread your fingers wide
  • Lift your head off the ground, look towards your feet
  • Keeping the movements slow and controlled, inhale and straighten your legs
  • Exhale, bend your right knee to touch your right hand
  • Inhale, straighten your legs
  • If you can do these movements pain-free, try bending your elbows and bending your knee a little further
  • Remember not to push into pain, err on the side of caution – no more than a three or four out of ten in terms of discomfort
  • Repeat five times on each leg
  • Lie down on your back and take a break

Swimmer Twists

  • Pull your cushion out from under your lumbar spine and carefully roll over to lie on your front
  • Extend your arms forward like Superman
  • Keep your feet as wide as your hips and your nose on the floor
  • Bend your right knee up at your side, place your right fingertips on the floor at your side with your elbow bent up towards the sky
  • Turn, and gently look up towards the ceiling
  • Hold here and breathe through your nose, inhaling for 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Exhale through your nose for 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Repeat for five rounds, keeping your breaths slow and deep
  • Release, place your forehead and forearms flat on the floor, and take a break

Side Plank

  • Roll onto your right side, stack your knees and ankles
  • Keep your legs bent to about 90 degrees
  • Your lumbar spine should remain in a slight arch throughout this pose
  • Place your right hand down with your fingers pointing away from you
  • Gently lift up and place your left fingertips on the floor for balance
  • Optional – If you feel comfortable and stable, place your left hand on your side and hold here inhaling for 1, 2, 3, 4 and exhaling for 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Repeat for three rounds
  • Slowly lower down with caution and switch sides
  • Repeat for three rounds on your left side
  • Slowly lower all the way down onto your back

Savasana (final relaxation)

Roll up your cushion or towel, place it underneath your lower back and rest here for two to three minutes.

Corrective Exercises & Pain

The biggest mistake most of us make when trying to heal is attempting too much, too soon. So, start gently, and if any of these poses worsen your pain, modify, or skip the pose altogether.

While healing, your pain should either stay the same or reduce—never worsen. Your level of discomfort should never rise above a three or four out of ten. Never push through pain, always err on the side of caution.

Safety Disclaimer

Please do not use this article to diagnose or treat a severe injury. If you have a major back injury, if you’re having trouble getting up and down from the floor, you feel dizzy, or you’ve lost control of your bladder, please see a doctor. In all cases, you should check with a trusted healthcare provider before starting any self-care routine.

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