10 Sciatica Exercises to Try at Home

Sciatica Exercises

Sciatica pain can be unbearable and incapacitating. The pain radiates from the lower back, passes via your hip, and reaches your legs. Such pain affects several people regardless of gender or age. Although there are pain relief medications, many patients prefer to start with simple and effective sciatica exercises that can be done at home.

With these exercises, you may experience pain relief. However, what you need to know is that some of them can trigger more pain in some cases. If this is what even you experience as a sciatica patient, just stop doing the exercise and try some other exercise. Following are 10 simple exercises to get started for treating sciatica after consulting your therapist.

Sciatica exercises

1. Sciatic Nerve Flossing

This exercise works by massaging the affected nerve to alleviate lower back pain. In other words, it massages the compressed sciatic nerve. Following are the steps to perform this exercise:

  1. Sit on a chair in a hunched manner with legs floating off the edge.
  2. Keep both hands on the thighs.
  3. Straighten your knee and see upwards.
  4. Lower the leg while bowing down your neck.
  5. Restore to the original position.
  6. Repeat the steps three times and perform ten such sessions in a day.

2. Knee to Chest

As the name indicates, this exercise involves taking the knee to the chest in a sleeping position. It is one of the effective sciatica exercises to perform daily. It aids in alleviating compression on the nerve in your lower back due to which even pain can reduce. Following are the steps to perform this exercise:

  1. Lie down on a mat.
  2. Bend your left knee and gently take it toward the chest using your hands.
  3. Be in this pose for 10 seconds.
  4. Perform the same steps with the right knee.
  5. Repeat the steps three to five times.
  6. Finally, move both knees toward your chest.
  7. Be in this pose for 10 seconds.
  8. Repeat the steps three to five times.

In short, you start with one knee and then proceed with both knees.

knee to chest

3. Cat-Cow

This famous yoga pose is deemed effective for both sciatica and lower back pain. It is considered a spine mobility workout that can aid in relieving the compression on the lower back. Following are the steps to perform this exercise:

  1. Kneel on both legs and elbows with knees directly beneath the hips and hands under the shoulders.
  2. Exhale and while doing so, bend your low back moderately and look upwards from your neck.
  3. Be in this pose for two seconds.
  4. Inhale and while doing so, arch your back and look downwards.
  5. Be in this pose for two seconds.
  6. Target to repeat the steps 10 times.
cat cow

4. Lying Figure 4

This sciatica exercise is especially for the piriformis. Sciatica pain is often the result of piriformis syndrome. This condition features tight piriformis muscle in the region of your butt. By performing the lying figure-4 exercise, you can expect reduced tension on this muscle and consequently no compression on the nerve of sciatica. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Lie on the mat with knees bent and feet retained flat on it.
  2. Position the right ankle on the left knee.
  3. Move the left thigh towards the chest using a band or hands.
  4. Be in this pose for up to 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Perform the same steps on the other leg.
  6. Have a goal of repeating the steps thrice on each side.
figure 4 stretch
SOURCE: http://steadystrength.com/stretches/figure-4-stretch/

5. Lower Trunk Rotation

By doing this exercise, you can expect improved mobility as well as the flexibility of your spine. Following are the steps to perform the lower trunk rotation:

  1. Lie on a mat with knees bent straight and feet flat on it.
  2. Hold both knees jointly with your hands and rotate them to one side.
  3. Be in this pose for three to five seconds. A mild stretching sensation is felt in the opposite side of the hip and lower back region.
  4. Tighten the abdominal muscles.
  5. Rotate knees to the opposite side.
  6. Be in this pose for three to five seconds.
  7. Perform all the above steps 10 times on each side.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 300x250px.jpg

6. Half Cobra Pose (Ardha-Bhujangasan)

This is one of the popular sciatica exercises in the world of yoga. It facilitates spinal extension due to which the bulging disc material shifts back to its original position to reduce pain and nerve compression. A protruded disc is known to compress the sciatica nerve. It is easy to perform this pose whose steps are as follows:

  1. Lie on your stomach and gradually lift your body up on your elbows without lifting the hips from the floor.
  2. Be in this position for 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Come back to the original position.
  4. Raise the holding duration gradually to 30 seconds.
  5. Perform 10 repetitions, initially it may be only five or six.

It is possible that you may not find this pose tolerable. Thus, it is recommended to start gradually and carefully.

Half Cobra Pose

7. Full Cobra Pose (Bhujangasan)

This exercise is an extension of the half cobra pose. It results in more spinal extension than the latter to push the bulging disc back towards its original position and reduce pain and other symptoms due to sciatica. Following are the steps of this exercise:

  1. Lie on your stomach with palms and fingers flat on the floor at your shoulder level.
  2. Gradually move your hands upward to lift the shoulder from the floor until a slight stretch is experienced.
  3. Exhale and while doing so, augment your range of motion as you push more into lumbar extension.
  4. Repeat these steps five times in one round.
Full Cobra Pose

8. Resting Pigeon Pose

This is an ordinary yoga pose that is known to work by opening the hips. While there are many variations of this pose, it is worth starting with the resting one if you are just getting beginning your treatment. Following are the steps of the resting pigeon pose:

  1. Lie on your back and lift your right leg to a right angle.
  2. Hold both hands at the rear of your thigh such that your fingers get locked.
  3. Raise your left leg and position the right ankle atop the left knee.
  4. Be in this pose for a minute, as it stretches the small piriformis muscle that can be inflamed and may press the sciatic nerve.
  5. Repeat the steps with another leg.

If you can do this sciatica exercise without discomfort or pain, you can try the forward and sitting variations only after discussing with your therapist.

9. Sitting Spinal Extension

Sciatica pain is often caused when there is compression on the spinal vertebrae. When you perform a sitting spinal extension, it aids in making space in the spine so that the pressure on the vertebrae and the sciatica nerve decreases. Following are the steps to perform this sciatica exercise:

  1. Sit on the floor with both legs extended and feet bent upward.
  2. Bend the right knee.
  3. Let the foot be flat on the exterior of the opposite knee.
  4. Position the left elbow on the exterior of the right knee so that you can move your body mildly to the right.
  5. Be in this pose for 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat the above steps thrice.
  7. Perform the steps with the other side and repeat thrice with it too.

10. Standing Hamstring Stretch

This sciatica exercise can aid in alleviating tightness and pain in the hamstring, which is often due to sciatica. Here is how to perform it:

  1. Position the right foot on a lifted surface below or at the level of the hip. You may use a chair or a step on a stairway.
  2. Bend your foot such that the leg and toes become straight. In case the knee hyperextends, retain a bit of bend.
  3. Flex your body a bit toward your foot. Avoid pushing quite far or else pain may trigger.
  4. Release the lifted leg’s hip downward. For this, you may use a strap or band over the right thigh and beneath the left foot.
  5. Be in this pose for 30 seconds.
  6. Perform these steps on another side.
Standing Hamstring Stretch


The aforementioned sciatica exercises have proven to be relieving in most cases. You just need to perform them in the right way, without giving much pressure.

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