There are different kinds of exercises for sciatica depending on what is causing the sciatica. Sciatica is caused by spinal stenosis, herniated disc or piriformis syndrome. Each of these conditions is different and, therefore, needs different types of exercises to help relieve the pain, which may be in the foot, leg, thigh, buttocks or lower back.
Exercises for sciatica caused by a herniated disc are to help the pain and symptoms move from your lower extremities (feet, legs, thighs) back to the lower back. The best exercises for this purpose are press-ups or extension exercises.
The patient will lie on their stomach while propping the upper part of the body with the elbows and making sure the hips are on the floor. Hold this position for five seconds the first day and work up to 30 seconds each time. After the patient can do this easily without difficulty, the therapist will recommend holding up the upper body with their hands, making sure the arms are straight. This position will be held for only one second, but will be done ten times. These exercises should be done every few hours.
For sciatica caused by spinal stenosis, there is a very effective stretching exercise where the patient lies on his back and pulls his knees to his chest until he feels a stretch that is comfortable. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then go back to the starting position. This exercise should be done up to six times each session.
A strengthening exercise for the sciatic pain consists of lying on the back and pushing the lower back on the floor by tightening the lower stomach muscles and pulling the belly button in and up, holding for 10 seconds longs. Up to ten of these exercises should be done each session.
A good stretching exercise for sciatica caused by piriformis syndrome is the patient lying on their back with the legs flat on the floor. Pull the painful leg towards the chest, while holding the knee on the same side and holding the ankle with the other hand. Try to pull the knee in the direction of the other ankle until you can feel the stretch. Do not try to force it beyond this point, but hold it for up to 30 seconds. Release it and start again, doing this three times.
These exercises are just a few of the many stretching and strengthening exercises that are helpful in relieving the pain caused by sciatica. A physical therapist, spinal specialist or chiropractor will be able to give the patient an entire list of different exercises.