Yoga Postures for Sciatic Nerve Pain
Sciatica is a symptom that involves the sciatic nerve that goes from the lower back down each leg. When this nerve experiences pressure or damage, it can cause pain and other sensations, generally in one leg. Yoga is one tool that might help you improve sciatica symptoms, though some poses might cause more harm than good. Adopting proper form is key to reaping yoga benefits for sciatic nerve pain.
Learn the Cause
An article on the “Yoga Journal” website explains that your yoga routine should be customized to address the cause of your sciatica. You should see a medical professional first to learn the cause, since this symptom can stem from a herniated or bulging spinal disc, piriformis syndrome, a tumor or a pelvic injury. Talk to your doctor first about using yoga as a treatment method. If he approves it, work with a certified yoga teacher for a tailored yoga program that focuses on the cause.
Work on Posture
If the cause is a herniated or bulging disc, poses that focus on your posture and body mechanics might help. A basic pose to improve posture is Mountain pose. Stand up straight with your arms at your sides. Extend your head toward the ceiling while pressing your feet into the ground. Focus on your body’s alignment, putting your shoulders back and down, your head over your shoulders, your feet straight and your pelvis straight. You can also perform Push the Wall pose and Warrior II pose. For a tight piriformis muscle, try Piriformis stretch and Revolved Triangle pose with a table as support.
Bend Your Back
Certain backbends, such as Bow pose and Cobra pose, can be beneficial to sciatica by increasing circulation to the hip muscles and strengthening the lower back. Sarah Powers, in an article on the “Yoga Journal” website, recommends using Locust pose, which involves lying face down on the ground, putting your arms at your sides and lifting the arms, chest and legs off the ground. She suggests a variation to inhale while lifting, hold while exhaling, inhale and separate the legs, exhale and bring them back together. Move your legs along the floor if lifting them causes sciatica pain. Perform this movement five times and then lower yourself to the ground.
Poses to Avoid
While yoga might be able to improve sciatica, there are some poses that you should avoid. These include seated forward bends like Seated Forward Bend pose. When you perform standing forward bends, bend your knees to help the pelvis rotate forward and to prevent triggering sciatica. You should also avoid any poses that aggravate your sciatica symptoms or use modifications to the poses.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Sciatica
- YogaJournal.com: Back Talk
- YogaJournal.com: Coping with Sciatica
- Koes BW, Van tulder MW, Peul WC. Diagnosis and treatment of sciatica. BMJ. 2007;334(7607):1313-7. doi:10.1136/bmj.39223.428495.BE
- Monro R, Bhardwaj AK, Gupta RK, Telles S, Allen B, Little P. Disc extrusions and bulges in nonspecific low back pain and sciatica: Exploratory randomised controlled trial comparing yoga therapy and normal medical treatment. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2015;28(2):383-92. doi:10.3233/BMR-140531
- Murakami M, Kirschner J. Piriformis Syndrome. Musculoskeletal Sports and Spine Disorders. 2017:231-235. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-50512-1_51
Sharon Therien has been writing professionally since 2007. She specializes in health writing and copywriting for websites, blogs and businesses. She is a Certified Yoga Teacher and a Reiki Master with a Certificate in Fitness and Nutrition. Therien has a Master of Arts in sociology from Florida Atlantic University.