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7 Sciatica Stretches to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain

Seven of the BEST sciatica stretches to relieve pain! This guided 10-minute stretch is designed to reduce pain in the hips, legs and low back by RELEASING the piriformis muscle, which can pinch the sciatic nerve. These are also great pregnancy sciatica stretches, and safe for all trimesters.

Sciatic nerve pain can be debilitating — limiting everyday movements like standing and walking.

This is my third pregnancy, and the first time I’m experiencing sciatica pain. And let me tell you – sciatic nerve pain stinks! It makes daily movements, like walking and standing, painful.

Here you’ll find seven of the best stretches for sciatica pain – designed to release tightness in the piriformis and take pressure off the sciatic nerve.

Dealing with back pain as well? Check out these 8 Back Pain Stretches (Pregnancy-Safe).

woman performing a supported hip flexor stretch to relieve sciatica pain

Sciatic Nerve Stretches FAQs

What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a form of nerve pain. It ranges from mild to severe, and radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and glutes, and down each leg.

What Causes Sciatica?

Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine, or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the sciatic nerve (Mayo Clinic).

What Does Sciatica Feel Like?

Sciatica symptoms are commonly described as sharp, shooting, or jolts of pain along the low back, hips and legs. Others describe this pain as a “burning,” “electric” or “tingling” sensation (Cleveland Clinic).

What Causes Sciatica To Flare Up During Pregnancy?

Sciatica during pregnancy is relatively common. Hormones produced during pregnancy cause ligaments to loosen. Loosened ligaments can cause the spine to become unstable, which can lead to nerves being pinched.

hip dip sciatic nerve pain stretch

7 Sciatica Stretches for Sciatic Nerve Pain

Release tight muscles and relieve sciatic pain and lower back pain with this guided stretching video: the best sciatica stretches.

This was specifically developed to help women in need of pregnancy sciatica stretches, but can be used by anyone for pain relief.

Note: Stretching may feel uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t feel painful. If you feel a stretch causing pain, pull back from the stretch and lessen the range of motion to modify each pose until you gain more flexibility and mobility.

Workout Equipment:

No equipment, just your bodyweight.

You can add a foam roller for move six and a tennis ball/lacrosse ball/massage ball for move seven if you have one available. We’ll also be using a bench/chair/sofa to deepen some of the stretches.

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This TRIPLEPLYO® foam box is ideal for exercise modifications during pregnancy. I use it to add an incline to planks and push ups, for step ups and stretching.
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Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Sciatic Nerve Stretches video on YouTubeled by certified personal trainer and prenatal fitness instructor, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 7 Exercises for Sciatica Pain
  • Timed Intervals (40 seconds per stretch, 20 seconds transition between stretches)
  • Perform each exercise/stretch once (on each side as needed)

Workout Outline

1. Cat-Cow Stretch
2. Seated Piriformis or Figure-4 Stretch
3. Hip Flexor Stretch with Rotation
4. Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) and Iliotibial (IT) Band Hip Sink
5. Puppy Dog Stretch
6. Seated Piriformis Release on Foam Roller
7. Piriformis Stretch on Massage/Lacrosse/Tennis Ball

Prefer to Watch On YouTube?

youtube icon 10-Minute Stretch

7 Best Sciatica Stretches

Cat-Cow Pose

Targets: All the muscles along your spine and releases low back tension.

The simple cat-cow pose improves blood flow between the vertebrae of your spine. Great for relieving back pain and stress tension.

woman performing cat and cow stretch for sciatica

How To Do Cat-Cow Stretch

  1. Start in a table top position (quadruped) on your hands and knees. Shoulders are stacked over wrists and hips are stacked over knees.
  2. Find a neutral spine — think of the spine as a straight line connecting the shoulders to the hips. Keep the neck long by looking down and out.
  3. On your exhale, arch your back to come into cat pose. Tuck your tailbone, feeling a nice stretch along your spine. Draw your navel toward your spine and drop your head, gazing toward your navel.
  4. Return to neutral spine on your inhale and repeat.

Seated Piriformis Stretch (Figure-4 Stretch)

Targets: Specifically the piriformis muscle — a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint.

This muscle is important in lower body movement and often becomes tight and overworked during pregnancy causing sciatica pain.

pregnant woman performing a seated figure 4 stretch with extension

How To Do Seated Piriformis/Figure-4 Stretch

  1. Start in a seated position, feet planted under knees, spine tall and straight.
  2. Pick up your right leg and cross your right ankle over your left knee (think of performing a seated figure-4 stretch).
  3. Breathe, rolling your shoulders back and keeping your posture tall.
  4. Stay here, or bring your hands to rest on your right knee, gently pulling towards your body. Think about rotating your right shin away from your body to intensify the stretch.
  5. Option to add a spinal rotation, turning to look over your right shoulder.

Note: Normally when doing this type of stretch, we would fold forward over the bent knee (pigeon pose). This type of compression can actually make sciatic pain worse. Think “extension, not compression” when doing this stretch.

Hip Flexor Stretch with Rotation

Targets: Hips, hip flexors, groin, quads, glutes, low back and core.

woman performing a hip flexor stretch with rotation, sciatica stretches

How To Do A Hip Flexor Stretch with Rotation

  1. Start in a low lunge position with your right leg forward, left leg extended behind you, supported on a bench or couch. Right foot is planted on the ground.
  2. Square your hips to the front by tucking your tailbone. Bend your right knee, aiming for about a 90-degree angle. Think about feeling a gentle stretch in your left hip by tucking your pelvis rather than dumping into the low back.
  3. To further intensify the stretch, add a spinal rotation by looking over your right shoulder.

Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) and Iliotibial (IT) Band Hip Sink

Targets: Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) and Iliotibial (IT) Band – AKA the muscles and tendons that help to extend, abduct, and rotate the hips.

woman performing a Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) and Iliotibial (IT) Band Hip Sink, sciatica stretches

How To Do A Hip Flexor Stretch with Rotation

  1. Start in a side plank position, right forearm resting on a box or bench, elbow under shoulder, feet extended, creating a long line with your body.
  2. Step your outside (left) leg over your right leg, planting it flat on the ground to create a 90-degree angle in your left knee.
  3. Breathe, thinking about sinking your right hip closer to the ground with each exhale.

Puppy Dog Stretch

Targets: Neck, shoulders, spine, upper back and lower back.

pregnant woman performing a puppy dog stretch, sciatica stretches

How To Do Puppy Dog Stretch

  1. Start in a table top position (quadruped) on all fours in front of a box or bench. Toes together, knees wide. Place your hands on the bench in front of you.
  2. As you exhale, shift your hips back towards your heels and lower your torso between your knees.
  3. Hold this position, lengthening from fingertips to tailbone with each exhale.

Seated Piriformis Release on Foam Roller

Targets: The glutes, outer glutes and piriformis muscle (a deep, small muscle located between your glutes and hip joints and it helps the hips rotate).

woman performing glute foam roller to relieve sciatica pain

How To Do Seated Piriformis Release on Foam Roller

  1. Sit on the foam roller with your left glute/hip, crossing your right leg over your left knee and leaning toward left hip. Support your weight in your hands on the floor as needed.
  2. Shift as much weight onto the foam roller as is tolerable.
  3. While trying to relax the glute muscles, continue leaning into the left hip as your slowly roll over the left glute and butt muscle.

Piriformis Release on Massage Ball

Targets: Specifically the piriformis muscle — a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint.

woman performing a seated piriformis release with ball, sciatica stretches

How To Do A Piriformis Release on Massage/Lacrosse/Tennis Ball

  1. Start in a seated position, feet planted under knees, spine tall and straight. Place a small ball (tennis ball, lacrosse ball, trigger point ball) underneath your outer left glute.
  2. Brace your core, then lift your left leg up and out in a small arc shape. Think about stepping over something on the ground.
  3. Tap your left heel to the mat, then reverse the motion, lifting your left leg up and over and returning to starting position.

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