8 Sciatica Exercises and Stretches

  • Male Caucasian patient with back pain being examined by male Caucasian doctor
    Relieve sciatica nerve pain with exercises and stretches.
    When the sciatic nerve becomes irritated, it can send burning, stinging or shooting pains through your buttock and down the affected leg. Poor posture and a lack of core and back strength often contribute to sciatica. Fortunately, you can try sciatic pain treatment at home by engaging in several exercises and stretches that strengthen weak postural muscles and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve to reduce pain. Be sure to consult a doctor or physical therapist before trying these sciatica pain relief exercises, or if they don’t provide relief within a week or two.
  • Young Caucasian woman on floor doing leg stretch
    1. Lying Gluteal Stretch
    This sciatica stretch lengthens the piriformis muscle to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and a towel or pillow under your head. Raise one foot and bring it to the opposite knee. Rest the ankle on the thigh. Grasp the bottom thigh with your hands and gently pull towards your head. Engage your abdominal muscles to keep your spine pressed against the floor. Hold for 30 seconds while breathing deeply, then repeat on the other side. Perform this stretch several times in a row.
  • Middle age Caucasian woman doing cobra yoga pose on floor
    2. Extension Exercise (Press Up)
    This exercise may be helpful for sciatica pain that originates in the lower spine. Lie on your stomach with your elbows bent at your sides and your hands extended, palms down. Engage your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine. Slowly raise your chest upwards by pressing down on your forearms and elbows. Raise up as high as you can and hold for 20 to 30 seconds while breathing deeply. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Perform this exercise several times per day for best results.
  • Middle age Caucasian woman doing leg and back stretch on floor at home
    3. Half Lord of the Fishes Yoga Pose
    This sciatica stretch can relieve pain in the buttocks. Sit on a mat with your legs extended in front of you, with your hands flat on the mat just behind your hips to support you. Bend your left leg to bring the heel up near the opposite buttock. Cross the right leg over the left leg, bringing the foot outside the left thigh. Rotate your trunk to the right, and rest your left upper arm against the right thigh. Gently press your trunk to the right and hold for several seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • Young African American woman doing leg stretch on floor of apartment
    4. Sciatic Stretch
    This stretch improves flexibility in the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve. Lie on your back with both knees bent and a towel or pillow under your head. Engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine to keep your back flat on the floor. Raise one knee toward your chest, then grasp your thigh with both hands and raise your heel toward the ceiling. Keep your foot flat and gently push your heel toward the sky. Breathe deeply throughout. Repeat on the other side. Perform several sets.
  • Older woman on beach doing leg raise on yoga mat
    5. Prone Leg Raise
    This sciatica exercise can improve lower back strength. Lie flat on your stomach with your arms at your sides, palms up. Keep your head slightly elevated, in a straight alignment from your spine. Do not tuck your chin. Pull your belly button in toward your spine to engage your core muscles. Keeping your legs straight, raise one foot several inches off the mat. Hold as long as possible, then repeat on the other side. Alternate leg raises with a goal of increasing the length of time you can hold the pose.
  • Young Caucasian woman lying flat on mat
    6. Pelvic Tilt
    This exercise improves abdominal muscle strength to relieve sciatica pain. Lie flat on your back on a mat, with a towel or small pillow under your head for support, if necessary. Engage your abdominal muscles by taking a deep breath and pulling your belly button in toward your spine so that the small of your back flattens into the mat. Hold this position while exhaling for 5 to 10 seconds. Relax your muscles, rest a few seconds, and repeat. Aim for 10 or more repetitions during each exercise session.
  • Young woman doing leg stretches on yoga mat
    7. Knee-to-Chest Stretch
    This stretch relaxes lower back and leg muscles to reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve. Lie flat on your back on a mat, with a small towel or pillow under your head if necessary for support. Bend both knees. Slowly bring one knee toward your chest, then grasp your knee with both hands and gently pull toward you. Hold for 10 seconds while breathing deeply. Repeat 10 times on each side, then try bringing both knees toward the chest and holding them for 10 seconds. Aim for five repetitions during each stretching session.
  • Seniors doing warrior pose in yoga class
    8. Warrior I Pose
    This yoga pose for sciatica improves flexibility in the lower back and thighs. Stand on a mat with feet shoulder width apart. Turn your left foot slightly outward, then step forward with your right foot. Step as far out as you can while keeping your right knee aligned directly over your ankle, just as you would perform a standing lunge. Tilt your head back and raise your arms to the sky, above your chest, bringing the palms together. Hold for 30 seconds while focusing on your breathing. Repeat on the other side.
8 Sciatica Exercises and Stretches

About The Author

As “the nurse who knows content,” Elizabeth Hanes, RN, works with national and regional healthcare systems, brands, agencies and publishers to produce all types of consumer-facing content. Formerly a perioperative and cosmetic surgery nurse, Elizabeth today uses her nursing knowledge to inform her writing on a wide variety of medical, health and wellness topics.
  1. Yoga for Sciatica. Yoga Journal. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/yoga-by-benefit/sciatica
  2. Exercises for Sciatica. U.K. National Health Service. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercises-for-sciatica/#
  3. 9 Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief. Spine-Health by Veritas. https://www.spine-health.com/slideshow/slideshow-9-exercises-sciatica-pain-relief?showall=true
  4. Sciatica Exercises: 4 Stretches for Sciatica Pain. Spine Universe. https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/sciatica/exercises-sciatica-degeneratve-disc-disease
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 13
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