Sciatica Pain - Symptoms & Revitalizing Exercises

By Cristie Martyn April 26, 2021 in Health

The longest nerve in the human body is the Sciatica nerve. Sciatica pain is mostly a result of compression of nerves or irritation in the nerve leading to severe leg pain. Usually, the origin point of this pain is at the patient’s lower back. It thereon moves onto the buttock and then down the leg by reaching the back of the thighs and the knees eventually.

However, one must be careful not to associate any lower back pain with sciatica. The same can also be said true for radiating leg pain. Thus, sciatica is specific to the pain erupting from the sciatica nerve, which can be dealt with by performing simple exercises for sciatica pain. Before learning about the exercises for sciatic nerve pain, let’s understand what causes pain in the sciatica nerve. Doing so will also help you differentiate between the correct exercises for sciatica leg pain that you should use.

Sciatica Pain Symptoms

Symptoms of Sciatica

A person who may be suffering from sciatica pain could experience different types of symptoms. One or more symptoms may directly connect to the nerve root, whereas the other symptoms could show their effect on the rest of your body. Such symptoms could sometimes also be a marker of underlying conditions. Thus treating these symptoms as early as possible will be beneficial to preserve good health.

Ideally, you should never self-diagnose sciatica pain. But, the below-mentioned symptoms should help you identify your health problem because these symptoms are reported to be common among various patients who do exercises for sciatica pain:


The emerging pain of sciatica that arises from the lower back causes severe shooting pain that radiates down to the sides and the back of the thigs. Thereon, the pain reportedly affects the calf area below the knee, and the pain in this area is more significant than in the lower back.

Some patients who perform stretching exercises for sciatica also mention feeling the burning pain on the front side of their legs and thighs. Additionally, sciatica pain can be either constant or sporadic.

Read More: Effective Home Remedies for Lower Back Pain – Manage Pain at Home!

Numbness / Weakness

Feeling such pain also often makes the patient feel as if their foot has gone numb, especially on the leg’s backside. This lack of sensation often also accompanies the feeling of tingling or pricking of needles at the backside of the leg.

exercises for sciatica pain

Apart from feeling numbness, a patient may also feel certain weakness in the leg or their foot. Ironically, it is also possible at the same time that they may feel their foot to be heavier than usual that prevents them from lifting it normally. For this reason, patients are often advised to seek out exercises for sciatica leg pain.

Posture Changes

The sciatica pain is often triggered by bending or twisting the spine forward by performing activities such as sitting or coughing. It also arises from standing for long periods and even while laying down, thereby interrupting a healthy sleep cycle.

Singular Sided Symptoms

Feeling these sensations and symptoms on only one side of the leg or in only one leg is also possible with sciatica pain. Both legs rarely feel the pain equally with the same intensity, wherein one leg will always emit symptoms to a greater degree. For these reasons, a physiotherapist or your doctor will ask you to do basic stretching exercises for sciatica pain relief.

Types of Sciatica

Sciatica pain can be classified into different types based on the duration of your symptoms and their active involvement in affecting one or both legs. The types are listed as follows:

Acute Sciatica

Acute sciatica pain is defined by the patient experiencing sciatica pain recently between four to eight weeks. Commonly, this type of pain can be self-corrected by performing A exercises for sciatic nerve pain, and it may not require medical treatment.

Chronic Sciatica

A patient who experiences sciatica nerve pain that lasts longer than eight weeks is said to have chronic sciatica. Such pain does not decrease with performing exercises for sciatic nerve pain in most cases, and it might require critical medical treatments of surgical or nonsurgical nature.

Chronic Sciatica

Bilateral Sciatica

This type of sciatica condition is identified in patients when they have nerve pain in both their legs at the same time. The chances of such a condition occurring arise from specific degenerative changes at the spinal level in the vertebrae or spinal disks. Suffering from such a condition is also possible when a patient has cauda equina syndrome.

Alternating Sciatica

This condition differs from the Bilateral Sciatica diagnosis by the alternative occurrence of pain in the patient’s either leg. The cause for such a condition could root from problems in the sacroiliac joint.

Revitalizing Exercises for Sciatica

Now that you’re familiar with the various types of sciatica pain, there’s less reason to lose hope for its treatment. Often the pain could cause a person to lose the will to use their legs for moving or walking, which is understandable. But doing exercises for sciatica leg pain is suggestive in such cases. It will only help relieve the problem better than taking medication where they aren’t necessarily required.

Let’s take a quick look at the different exercises you can perform for self-management of sciatica pain.

Reclining Pigeon

It is one of the widely known yoga poses that helps to improve the movement of the hips. However, multiple versions of this pose exist to initiate exercise treatment for sciatica pain. The basic pose called reclining pigeon pose works wonderfully.

exercises for sciatica pain

  • Start by laying on your back. Then, bring your right leg up to a right angle and simultaneously clasp your palms together behind the thigh by locking your fingers.
  • Now lift your left leg to place your right leg’s ankle on the knee of your left leg.
  • Try to maintain this position for a few moments so that it can help to stretch and de-inflammation the little piriformis muscles that put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Follow the same steps for the alternate leg.

After you’re capable of performing this exercise without feeling shooting pain, ask your physical therapist to instruct and help you with the sitting and forward version of the pigeon poses.

Sitting Pigeon

Learn to perform this pose from a physical therapist to avoid worsening the pain and the sciatic condition. Only proceed to perform this pose after the nonexistence of pain while doing the reclining pigeon pose.

  • Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched before you.
  • Bend the right leg, so your right ankle rests on the top side of your left knee.
  • Lean forward slowly to help your upper body reach and meet your thigh.
  • Hold the bent position for a good fifteen to twenty-five seconds to effectively stretch the lower back and glutes in your body.
  • Repeat the steps with the alternate side.

Forward Pigeon

  • Start by kneeling on the floor on all fours and lift your right leg to move it forward on the ground before your body.
  • Keeping the lower leg on the ground and horizontal to the body, let your right foot be in front of your left knee while the right knee stays comfortably to the right side.
  • Now stretch your left leg out over your body to the floor behind you while holding the foot’s topside on the ground with your toes pointing backside.
  • Let your body weight shift slowly from your arms to your legs so that they now support your body’s weight, and try sitting up. Maintain that your hands remain on either side of your legs while sitting up.
  • Please take a deep breath and make your upper body lean forward over your leg at the front while exhaling the same. Again, maintain that your arms support your body weight in this process.
  • Repeat these steps alternatively. 

Sitting Spinal Stretch

One of the exercises for sciatic nerve pain relief is the sitting spinal stretch, which allows the vertebrae in your spine to relieve the pressure it lays on the sciatic nerve.

  • Be on the ground in a sitting position with your legs extended straight before you and your feet flexing upward.
  • Ben01d your right knee to help you put the base of your foot flatly on the floor while it remains outside of your opposite knee.
  • Bring your left elbow outside your right knee to help you cautiously turn your body towards the right side.
  • Hold the position for thirty seconds or so and repeat the position three times before switching to the alternate side to follow suit.

Knee to Opposite Shoulder

This particular exercise helps to loosen the gluteal and piriformis muscles known for putting pressure on the sciatic nerve.

  • Lay on your back to flex your feet upward while keeping your legs extended.
  • Let your right leg be bent to clasp your palms together around the knee of your left leg.
  • Slowly pull your right leg to your body’s left shoulder to hold it there for the duration of half a minute. (Only pull your knees as far as they comfortably stretch, the goal is to feel a stretching feeling and not pain.)
  • Push your knee ahead so that your right leg attains the initial resting position, and repeat this exercise thrice. Afterward, perform the exercise similarly with the alternate leg.

Read More: Some Effective Balance Exercises Physical Therapy You Must Work On

Standing Hamstring Stretch

The standing hamstring stretch helps to loosen the hamstring’s tightness and pain, making it one of the ideal stretching exercises for sciatica pain relief.

exercises for sciatica pain

  • Use an elevated surface to put your right foot on it while it is no higher than your hip level.
  • Gently flex on your foot to straighten your toes and legs to a straight position. Bend your knee slightly if it hyperextends to the point of pain.
  • Slowly bend your body forward towards your foot to stretch the hamstrings properly but don’t push it too far.
  • Let the hip-side of your raised leg downward using a yoga strap or long exercise band over your right thigh and underside of your left foot.
  • Maintain the position for about half a minute and repeat the same with the alternate side.

Final Words

These exercises for sciatica pain show good promise of relief alongside using a few other convenient ways to reduce the pain. You can either place a heat pack on the pelvic region’s rear side if you prefer not to perform sciatica nerve pain exercises due to specific constraints or issues or take walks. Additionally, seeping with your legs slightly elevated on a pillow or between the legs when sleeping on the side can also help.

Sciatica Pain FAQs

Is Exercise Good for Sciatica?

Exercising can provide relief to specific muscles and spinal conditions when a patient suffers from sciatica pain. Yet, over-exercising or performing these exercises roughly could hurt negatively. Consult a physical therapist to avoid it.

How often should you do Exercises for Sciatica?

Ideally, one should do the stretching exercises for sciatica pain management up to three times a day or at least once a day.

Is Cycling a Good Exercise for Sciatica?

You can perform cycling for five to ten minutes and slowly increase the duration with successive days, or you should instead rest by taking a break from cycling altogether for a few days.

Is Bike Exercise Good for Sciatica?

When the sciatic nerve pain is known to originate from the body’s upper region near the spine, riding a bike, a stationary one, is both acceptable and helpful.

Is Swimming a Good Exercise for Sciatica?

The best stretching exercises for sciatica to exist are swimming because it can help loosen the joints and muscles in your spine, legs, and feet.


Cristie Martyn

12 articles by Cristie Martyn | View Author Profile

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