Has the combination of Covid stress and prolonged inactivity from quarantine exacerbated your low back pain? Maybe you have already tried “stretching” and it isn’t helping? The problem may be that simply stretching your low back in any/all directions can actually WORSEN your symptoms…REMEMBER, just because you can “feel” a stretch in your back does NOT mean it will always be helpful! Historically, the type of low back, sciatic pain that we are referring to is typically a result of the prolonged slumping posture that occurs while sitting through Zoom meetings, or while binge watching your favorite Netflix series on your couch. Repetitive forward bending, particularly if you also have to rotate, like when performing work duties, yardwork, or typical daily activities can also produce this type of sciatic, back pain.
If any of these scenarios seem to describe you, then try these 3 SPECIFIC stretches for sciatica to help relieve your symptoms:
- Cobra Press Up
- lie on your belly, resting propped up on your elbows for five minutes at a time
- follow this restful position up with a more active form of this stretch–known as a Cobra Press-Up from yoga…begin by lying completely face down with your hands at your side, then press down through your hands using your upper body to raise yourself “up” while your low back and pelvis remain on the floor, then lower yourself back to the floor
Some key pieces of advice while performing this sciatica stretch:
- keep the low back, butt, and leg muscles completely RELAXED…only the muscles of your upper body are responsible for performing this stretch
- the intent is to FULLY STRAIGHTEN your arms/elbows
- your pelvis and lower abdomen should remain on the floor even when you are at the “top” of the stretch
- it is acceptable to feel a mild “pinch” in your low back as you fully stretch into this movement…it typically resolves with increased repetitions
- Standing Back Extension Over a Surface Another sciatica stretch can be performed from standing and requires you to arch or extend yourself and low back over a countertop or surface…particularly, a kitchen countertop seems to work well since it is normally an appropriate height, although the back of a chair or couch can also be used.
- stand with your back up against the countertop, spread your feet wide and place your hands on either side to support yourself so that you can hold on to the table as your stretch backwards
- begin to stretch and arch backwards over the countertop beginning with your low back and extending all the way up through the spine, ending with your head and neck looking up and back
- come back to the upright, relaxed position
- Standing Back Extension Using Hands This final sciatica stretch is similar to the previous countertop stretch, except this can be performed anywhere because it simply uses your own hands to generate the force to arch and stretch your back.
- stand up tall, spread your feet wide and place your hands/fists comfortably into your central, lower back on either side of your spine
- begin the stretch by pressing the hands/fists “forward” into your spine, producing and initiating the arched low back movement…this occurs as your move and stretch your entire spine, head, and neck backwards…you should be looking “up and back” as you stretch backwards
- come back to the upright, resting position
The general recommendation would be to perform 1 set of 10-15 reps of any of these sciatic stretches at least every couple of hours throughout your day…the more significant and constant your symptoms are, the more frequent you should attempt the stretches.
A final piece of advice: if after attempting these sciatica stretches your symptoms actually WORSEN, then these specific stretches may not be for you, so take a break and allow your symptoms to calm down. If they persist, you can try either ice or heat for relief. If you have been experiencing significant low back, sciatica symptoms, and would like a professional evaluation and expert treatment that comes directly to your home or place of business, then schedule your house call appointment now with Dr. Bill: