Your spine degenerates as you age. When the spine degenerates, it leads to sciatic pain. This pain radiates from the tailbone, and it’s cause by the sciatic nerve, which runs through the pelvis and down the back of the leg.
This is the body’s most vulnerable nerve.
If you’re suffering from spine pain and sciatica, you can perform stretches and exercises to alleviate your suffering.
We’re going to discuss both stretches and exercises you can perform to relieve your pain.
3 Spine Stretches You Can Perform Today
1. Lower Back Stretch
The lower back gets tight, and when tight, the back can begin to hurt and alter your ability to maintain proper posture. This easy lower back stretch can be performed by people of all ages.
You’ll need to lay on the ground to perform this exercise, so grab a chair if you need help getting up.
Now, you’ll need to:
- Lay flat on your back
- Bend your knees while keeping your feet together
- Rotate your knees to the left, and hold for 20 – 30 seconds
- Rotate your knees to the right, and hold for 20 – 30 seconds
You need to keep your back flat on the ground when rotating from side to side.
2. Flexion Stretch
This is an exercise that you can perform in a chair. The goal is to sit on the edge of the chair while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Once you’re sure you have yourself in a stable position, you’ll want to:
- Bend forward slightly
- Slide your hands down the back of your legs
- Continue bending forward as far as is comfortable
- Hold your stretch for 20 – 30 seconds
You can repeat this stretch as many times per day as you like. This will allow you to stretch out the back and pelvis where the pain originates.
3. Pigeon Pose Stretch
Pigeon Pose is a stretch that is often performed in yoga, and this is a great exercise with multiple variations. You’ll want to start on the floor first before progressing to harder stretches. If you have issues balancing, this is a stretch we recommend you perform to open your hips.
Start by lying flat on your back on the floor.
Note: The bed doesn’t provide the support needed to perform this stretch properly.
You’ll now want to do the following while laying straight on your back:
- Bring your foot upward into a right angle so that your inner ankle is facing your face
- Grasp your hands behind the lifted leg’s knee
- Bring your opposing knee upward so that your ankle is resting against your knee
- Bring the knee upward towards the chest to stretch the piriformis muscle
Repeat this stretch on the opposite leg. You can also perform pigeon pose while sitting up, but for older stretchers, it’s recommended that you start in the reclining pose first.
2 Sciatica Exercises to Perform
1. The Clamshell
The clamshell is an easy exercise to perform, and it strengthens the hips and knees while alleviating sciatic pain. Performing the clamshell is straightforward:
- Lay on your side on the ground
- Turn so that your belly button is facing the ground while remaining on your side
- Bend your knees and lay them on top of each other on the floor
- Keep the ankles together and use your hip muscles to open the legs
You’ll be lifting the top leg so that you look like an open clamshell. Lower the top leg back on the bottom leg, and reopen. Repeat for 20 repetitions before switching to the opposite side.
2. Bird Dog
An exercise that requires a lot of strength yet helps build the buttocks muscles and back. Core control is at the heart of this exercise. You’ll want to start the bird dog on your hands and knees on the floor.
Keeping on knee on the ground, you’ll:
- Straighten the opposing foot behind you in the air
- Lift the arm straight in the air that matches the side where your knee is on the ground
- Hold for 20 seconds
So, if your left knee remains on the ground, your left arm will be extended straight out in front of you in the air.
You’ll need to repeat this exercise on the alternate side, too.
Sciatica pain has many causes. If you have a disc herniation, you’ll need to be treated for the herniation for the pain to subside. A doctor will help narrow down the root cause of your sciatic pain.
A physical therapist can recommend further exercises to help alleviate pain and reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve. A good way to take the pressure off of the nerve is to use a special seat called a coccyx cushion. This cushion has a hole or indentation to allow space for the sciatic nerve.
Staying active and performing aerobic exercises allows elderly folks to maintain their mobility while also stretching out many of the muscles that cause strain on the back and sciatic nerves. If your sciatic flares up, it’s likely caused by three main issues: disc herniation, tight hip muscles, or bone degeneration.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.