Five Powerful Stretches to Combat Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy
Along with round ligament pain, sciatic nerve pain is one of the most common causes of discomfort during mid to late pregnancy. Your sciatic nerve goes from the sides of your lower spine down through your buttocks and pelvis, and pressure on this nerve can cause not only pain but also numbness and tingling in the lower extremities. There are lots of different ways to treat sciatica–let’s take a closer look at five particularly effective stretches you can try.
Lie face down on a mat, stretch out your legs and arms, then lift your right arm and left leg at the same time. Hold the stretch for five minutes, then do the same with your left arm and right leg. Repeat this exercise five times per side.
- Knee to chest exercise
Lie down on a mat, and put a cushion under your head. Place your feet hip-width apart on the floor, tuck your chin into your chest, and bend your knees. Now, hold onto your right knee with both hands and bring the knee up towards your abdominal muscles. Increase the stretch, but not to the point of pain, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat using your left leg, and then do the exercise at least two more times per side.
- Gluteal stretch
This exercise can really help with the buttock pain associated with sciatica. To start, simply lie flat on your back, resting your head on a pillow. Bend your left leg, and then lift your right leg across so that it’s resting on top of your left thigh. Holding on to that thigh, pull it towards you and feel the stretch on the right side of your backside. Maintain the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then repeat with the opposite buttock (up to three times per buttock).
- Leg raises
Once again, lie down on a comfortable mat, but this time just support your neck with your hands rather than a pillow. Tighten your abs and pull them in towards your body, then lift your left leg a couple inches off the mat. Hold the stretch for up to 5 seconds, and then gently lower your leg to the ground before doing the same exercise with your right leg.
Rest your arms behind your head during this exercise in order to protect your neck from potential strain. Just lie on your back with bent knees, and slowly lift your head and shoulders, holding the stretch for up to 5 seconds before lowering your body. Repeat 5-10 times at first, and increase if you feel you can do more.
The above exercises can really help with sciatic nerve pain, but it’s always worth discussing them with your healthcare team just to ensure they’re entirely safe for your particular pregnancy. Finally, don’t forget the value of low-impact cardiovascular exercise here–swimming in particular can reduce the weight on your joints, and reduce nerve pain caused by pressure.