If you're among the 40 percent of adults who have experienced sciatic nerve pain, you already know how that it can be a pain in the butt — and sometimes the legs and the feet as well.
Considered to be any radiating pain, tingling, numbness or weakness that originates in the lower back and travels down the backs of the legs (aka the sciatic nerves, but normally only one or the other), this uncomfortable and seemingly unmanageable condition has been plaguing adults since time immemorial.
However, there are some stretches that can help soothe the pain and get you back to your active lifestyle. Here are the top yoga moves to lessen the pain associated with sciatica.
Half lord of the fishes pose
Sciatic nerve pain can be caused by a variety of back issues. If your sciatica is related to pressure on the nerve, this simple spinal twist can help offer some relief. As with all stretch regimens, it's important to start slowly and progress naturally — don't rush into contorted poses, which can further exacerbate the issues already at play.
For this move, sit on the a padded surface (like a thick yoga mat or folded blanket) with your knees bent and feet planted firmly in front of you. Gently move your right foot under your left knee and continue until it rests on the ground outside of your left hip. Place your left foot on the floor toward the inside of your right knee so that the left foot is lined up with your left hip. Inhale to lengthen the spine upward and exhale to go deeper into the twist, taking care to protect the back.
Bound angle pose
Similar to half lord of the fishes pose, the bound angle pose helps to gently stretch the spine and lessen pressure.
Sitting on a blanket, draw the soles of your feet together to create a diamond shape. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you can without causing discomfort. Grasp the big toe of each foot with the thumb, first and second fingers. Breathe deeply to lengthen the spine and be sure not to hunch over.
Cobra pose is another stretch that emphasises the elongation of the spine.
Beginning face-down on the mat, stretch your legs straight back so the tops of your feet are on the floor. Place your hands directly under your shoulders with fingers spread wide. Be sure to keep your elbows tucked close to the torso. As you inhale, straighten forward to bring your head and chest off of the floor. Lift through the sternum, drawing the shoulder blades back.
While mountain pose may not appear to be the most exciting upon first look, these standing poses can be essential for re-aligning the spine in the case of a herniated or bulging disc, which could be to blame for sciatic nerve pain.
Begin standing with the base of your big toes together and heels slightly parted. Get grounded by lifting and slowly placing down each toe, then rocking side to side slightly to establish a firm, balanced connection with the ground. Imagining a string pulling up through the crown of your head, straighten to a tall spine. Roll your shoulders back gently and allow your arms to rest at your sides with palms facing forward. Focus on the breath and maintaining a straight, tall back.
Extended side-angle pose
Extended side-angle pose is another move that helps lengthen your spine to quell sciatic nerve pain as well as lower back pain.
Moving directly from mountain pose, step or gently jump your feet about 3-4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and actively stretch each hand in opposite directions with palms down.
Turn your left foot inward slightly to the right and rotate your right foot out to the right 90 degrees, aligning both heels. Turn your right thigh outward. Bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that your shin is perpendicular to the floor.
In a sweeping motion, bring your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, turning the palm to face your head. Extend your right arm downward so it is parallel to your leg, creating a T-shape perpendicular to the floor. Hold for about a minute, then repeat with the opposite side.
Reclining hand-to-toe pose
This pose is essential for soothing back pain and helping to stretch out tight hamstrings — a two-in-one.
Begin by lying on your back with a strap or band nearby. Extend your legs straight out in front of you, engaging them with your heels resting on the floor. Draw your right leg in and hug it to your chest, keeping your left leg actively stretching forward. Loop a strap around the arch of the right foot, holding the ends in each hand. Inhale and straighten your leg toward the ceiling, adjusting your hands on the strap so your elbows are fully extended. Reach your heel upward toward the ceiling. Stay in this pose for a few minutes to stretch, then repeat on the opposite side.