Sciatic nerve pain happens when the sciatic nerve, a large, main nerve running from the lumbar spine of the lower back all the way down underneath the gluteus muscles and continuing along the back of the leg, gets pinched. That usually happens when the piriformis, a small muscle that rotates your leg outward, gets tight.
The sciatic nerve runs underneath the piriformis, like a creek running under a foot bridge. A tight piriformis muscle cranks down on the sciatic nerve and causes pain to radiate down the back of the leg.
Because we sit so much in cars and at desks, on the sofa in front of the television, while chatting with friends and reading books, most people have tight lateral rotator muscles and weak posterior hip muscles. The muscles on the front of the hip – hip flexors – on the other hand, are very tight in nearly everyone. Wait, scratch that. They’re tight in everyone.
So, I love this stretch because it simultaneously lengthens the front of one hip while opening up the back of the other one. It’s a little advanced if you have full blown sciatic nerve pain, however, so if you’re in the acute phase of piriformis impingement, try this sciatic nerve stretch instead.
But if your pain is mild or intermittent, this might just be the solution you’re looking for.