Today we’re going over the 3 best sciatica stretches with sports doctor Jesse Polanco. Dr. Jesse works with my OTA athletes, addressing any of their injuries. Two of the most common we’ve recognized are jumper’s knee (which I’ve talked about here) and sciatica or lower back pain. Here’s how Dr. Jesse addresses this issue with 3 great sciatica stretches.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is really common amongst athletes… I get a new patient into my office almost every single day suffering with lower back pain. The large sciatic nerve runs from your lower back and all the way down the leg, with the circumference close to that of your thumb which can get bound up in various areas of the body.
We’ll go over 3 activities that can be very helpful for people that suffer with sciatica.
Begin sitting on a bench so that one knee is just in front of the edge. The other leg can relax to the side. Sit up tall and straighten the leg that’s in front, so the foot is now level with the knee. Flex the foot, pulling the toes toward the shin while simultaneously lifting your chin to look up. H0ld for 3 seconds before tucking the chin to the chest and pointing the toes.
Doing this is essentially “flossing” the nerve back and forth. I recommend trying to complete about 1 set of 20 reps up to 3 times a day. Don’t perform this drill if it’s uncomfortable or painful.
To get into a 90/90 position, take a set on the floor. Bring both knees to a 90 degree angle, and then fall to one side so that each leg remains at 90 degrees while on the ground. Both feet should be flexed with the toes pulled toward the shins. Keep the chest lined up with whatever knee is in front, then drop the opposite shoulder towards that knee stretching the glute.
Hold for 3 seconds, before coming back up to neutral. From there, twist in the opposite direction taking hold of the right shin with the right hand, and the left foot with the left hand. Tuck the chin moving the same shoulder towards the floor. You won’t be able to reach quite as far on this one but hold for 3 seconds here.
Return to a neutral position again, placing both hands on the ground behind you for support. From here lift the heel of the back foot up off the ground while keeping the toes connected to the floor. You might feel a cramping or tightening up of the tensor fasciae later muscle in the hip crease. Hold for 3 seconds.
Lift both knees up and flip your hips over to the other side, maintaining 90 degrees in each leg. Perform everything on the other side. Complete on each side 1-3 times a day.
Begin lying on your back in a dead bug position with the arms straight up in the air and the feet lifted off the floor with the knees, hips and ankles both at 90 degrees. Keeping the leg in this same position, lower the heel towards the floor while simultaneously reaching the opposite arm back towards the floor. From here return to a neutral position before doing the same thing on the other side. Be sure to maintain contact between the low back and the floor, holding for 2 seconds every rep.
I recommend doing this once or twice a day for a total of 10 reps on each side.
Optimize Athletic Performance
For more mobility drills like these sciatica stretches, check out the Athletic Performance Optimization Manual to start mastering your performance with these 7 areas of recovery:
- Work Capacity
- Active Recovery