Hey there!! Are you dealing with a sciatica problem right now? Are you trying to do stretches and exercises that you found online or that someone recommended, whether professional or not? Well, in case you are, yet aren’t getting any better, let me show you the Top 5 Stretches and Exercises that we recommend our patients to NOT do because it’s only going to make their problem worse.
Now, let me tell you who I am. My name is Dr. David Middaugh. I’m an expert physical therapist and the owner of El Paso Manual Physical Therapy. We’ve been helping people with sciatica problems for years and years now, and we always have to stop people from doing these things that I’m about to show you. It keeps them from getting better. It slows down our progress if they’re doing these in addition to our treatment plan:
1.) Cobra Stretches
People usually lie on their stomach, bring their hands by their chest, and then they press up. Sometimes, they repeat where they go up and down. Sometimes, they hold the stretch and arch their back inward. If they repeat, they’re almost doing push-ups like version or for less aggressive versions. This is one of the worst things you could do for sciatica and here is why:
If you’ve got a sciatica problem, chances are there’s some involvement at the very root of the nerve, which comes off the low back. When your back bends backwards like that, the opening in the spine, where the nerves come out to pass into the sciatic nerve, when you go backwards like that, it actually closes the hole called the foramen. The foramen closes and it pinches the nerve and makes it worse in the long run. So, if you’re doing cobra stretches or any other version that looks like that, please stop doing that right away!
2.) Leg Lifts
This is where a person lies on their back, usually, and then they just pick up one leg. They might do the other side as well. This is bad to do because the muscles that you’re using when you pick up your leg like that are typically the hip flexor muscles. There are several muscles that are called hip flexor muscles, and some of those attach directly to the low back bones in the spine.
When they fire, they compress the low-back joints, which in turn compresses the nerves that come up the sides of the low back that are the root nerves for the sciatic nerve. So, you want to avoid any sort of compression to your low back, so doing exercises that use your hip flexors, like that leg lift, is not a good idea.
3.) Figure 4 Stretches
The worst thing you could be doing for your sciatic nerve problem! These are done all the time. They’re called different things, so in case it’s not called exactly what I’m talking about, here is a description of all these exercises and stretches:
The figure 4 stretch, the glute stretches, or the piriformis stretch as sometimes called, is where you lay on your back, cross your leg over your knee, and then you’re going to grab the back of the thigh, and pull up, and you get a stretch sensation all through your hamstring. That area right back there is where the sciatic nerve lives. So, by stretching out the muscles in that area, you’re also stretching out the nerves.
Nerves do not like stretching, however, muscles do if they’re tight. If you’ve got a sciatic issue in combination with a muscle problem, you’ve got to make sure that you treat each issue differently, and that one treatment doesn’t aggravate another body part. So, if you’re stretching the muscles out to get more muscle flexibility, but as a side effect stretching the nerve, which aggravates the nerve, you’ve got to be careful with that. I would avoid doing this exercise. I would only do it in certain circumstances, and it needs to be guided by a professional. So, avoid using this exercise. If it’s making it worse, stop right away.
4.) Touching your Toes
This looks different depending on who’s teaching you, but you might be doing it sitting with your legs out in front of you and reaching towards your toes. Sometimes, people do a variation with their legs open and reach for their toes. Or some do a standing variation where they’ll lean over to touch their toes.
Any way you slice it, you’re bending your body in half reaching towards your toes. Doing that type of motion is adding intense stretching to your entire nervous system. All the nerves in your body are getting stretched. It’s almost always way too aggressive for the sciatic nerve. If you’ve got an active sciatic nerve problem, this type of stretching typically keeps the sciatic nerve problem longer than it needs to be.
Now, this stretch can feel good because it’s stretching a bunch of other muscles. It’s moving some joints that probably need to move, but this stretch is very aggressive, and I would wait to do anything like that until you’ve spoken to a professional about how to properly proceed into this stretch.
5.) Hamstring Stretching
Everybody that’s got a sciatic nerve problem typically has a very tight hamstring. The hamstring is the back of the thigh where you’ve got a bunch of muscles, and right between all those muscles is where the sciatic nerve goes down. If you feel tightness back there, it may make sense to stretch it out. But like I said earlier, if you’re stretching out a muscle that also has an irritated nerve near it, you’re going to aggravate the nerve and keep the problem there longer than it should. Let me just show you some of the ways that you might be doing a hamstring stretch that you were told or that you found that you need to stop doing right away:
One of the common ones is lying on your back, holding your leg up to the ceiling, and then stretching your foot upwards to create a stretch sensation. This is going to stretch your sciatic nerve intensely, and it’s not a good situation. It’s not a good exercise to do if you’re barely starting out with a sciatic nerve treatment either. Another version is by standing, lifting your leg and placing your foot up on something and leaning into it. That will put a stretch to the area, but like I said, it’s going to aggravate an irritated nerve. If you’ve got a sciatic nerve problem, it’s an irritated nerve problem in addition to other stuff, muscles, joints. You might possibly have an arthritis problem in addition to it.
There could be a posture or a movement issue that isn’t visible on an X-ray/MRI. Those all have to be considered and properly built into a plan to get you to solve your sciatica problem for the long-term without surgery, injections or medications. So, I encourage you to find the right help and guidance when looking to find stretches and exercises for your sciatica problem.
Please explore our website to learn more about sciatica and other ways that we help people stay healthy, active, and mobile while avoiding unnecessary surgeries, injections, and pain killers. If you’re interested in hiring us to help you with your sciatica problem, you can call us at 915-503-1314. To take the next step, ask about a free discovery visit for our Facebook followers.
If you’re skeptical, uncertain or worried that nobody can help you with your sciatica problem, that we won’t be able to help you with your sciatica problem, I completely understand. We hear it all the time, and it’s an understandable situation if you’ve been let down by other medical professionals, or if you’ve tried a bunch of different things and having got anywhere with it. If you’re in that situation, I’ve got something for you, I’ve written this Tips Guide. It’s called The Top 10 Tips to End Annoying Sciatica Pain Using Natural Solutions to Avoid Unnecessary Surgery, Injections, and Pain Killers. All the tips that we’ve collected over the years successfully treating sciatica patients are put into this book, and you can instantly download it by finding the button nearby, dropping in your information, and we’ll email it to you instantly.
If you want to have a copy mailed to your home, just call us at 915-503-1314. If you’re in the El Paso area, we’ll be happy to mail it your way. I wish you the best of luck with your sciatica problem, and I hope you get better really fast. Have a wonderful day!