Sciatica is usually handled with self-care treatments and various procedures at home. Surgery is, indeed, an option too, but mostly for critical cases and severe situations. Most doctors will recommend self-care solutions for up to six weeks. Exercises and stretches are among the top recommendations. The best part about them? They are not very challenging, and even older people can handle them.
All in all, here are some of the most efficient sciatica stretches and exercises for seniors. Not only will they ease the painful sensations, but they will also reduce the further occurrence of the affection in the future.
Sciatica exercises for seniors
1. The pelvic tilt
The pelvic tilt has a few different varieties. You can do it at home anytime. Ideally, you should perform it on a yoga mat – not an expensive one. However, if you do not have one, you can also get a firm mattress.
- Line on the back and bend your knees
- The feet should be flat on the floor
- The bellybutton should be pulled in a way that pushes the pelvis up
- The back will also flatten against the yoga mat or mattress
- Hold the position for around 20 seconds
- Get back to the original position and rest for a few seconds.
Perform the stretch up to 10 times and make sure you rely on the core muscles for it and not your legs.
2. The bridge
The bridge is a classic – one of the most common sciatica stretches and exercises for seniors. From some points of view, it is close to the pelvic tilt. You start in the same position. Lie down on the mattress or yoga mat. Bend your knees and ensure your feet are flat on the surface.
- Lift the buttocks with a very slow movement
- You practically need to push on your heels
- The pelvis will also be pushed up
- Go until the torso and thighs are perfectly aligned, then hold the position for around 10 seconds. It might be difficult at first – fewer seconds are also alright.
- Get back to the original position with the same slow movement.
Perform 10 stretches and increase the number of sets as you gain more strength.
3. Seated hamstring stretch
There are more issues that could alter or aggravate sciatica. For example, having tight hamstrings will make the pain more aggressive, so you will inevitably need to do something about them. Easing pain implies improving flexibility. The back of your legs is often overlooked – not only will they reduce the pain, but they can also prevent it. Now, as for the best place to perform this exercise, you can do it at home or in your office – a chair is ideal for it.
- Slide a bit forward on the chair, so try to sit on the edge of it – not a good idea if you have a rolling office chair.
- One of your feet should be flat on the floor. The other leg can be extended out.
- Stretch it in front of you and keep it straight.
- The heel should touch the ground, but the toes can be stretched upwards.
- The upper back must be perfectly straight too – your natural tendency is to hunch it.
- Lean forward until you experience a stretch behind the leg.
- It should not be too aggressive or feel like burning – instead, stop when the stretch feels gentle.
- Hold this position for about 20 seconds, then return.
- Perform the same exercise for the other leg.
Three repetitions with each leg are more than enough. You can perform the exercise two or three times a day.
4. Prone leg raise
The prone leg raise is one of the most efficient sciatica stretches and exercises for seniors who need a bit of stability. It is even better for those with sciatica caused by the degenerative disc disease.
- Lie in the prone position – a mattress or a yoga mat.
- Fold the arms in front of you and rest your face on them.
- Tighten the core and especially the abdomen.
- Raise one of the legs behind you.
- Try not to arch your back or neck.
- Bend the knee a little, as it will help with the movement. A few inches are great. The higher you can go, the better, but make sure it still feels comfortable.
- Hold the position for around five seconds and do the same for the other leg.
Bottom line, there are more sciatica stretches and exercises for seniors you can try out. If you run out of ideas, your doctor or a physical therapist can also give you some good suggestions. Keep in mind that what works for some people will not work for everyone else. Therefore, try out more exercises for a few days and see how you feel. If pains are less intense, they obviously work, so stick to them. Come up with a mix of different exercises and stick to the routine.
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