12 Piriformis Stretching Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief for Elderly

Sciatica is something that many people experience at some point in their lives. In fact, about 40% of people will get the condition, and it has been found that you are much more likely to get sciatica as you age.

For those who don’t know, sciatica is a condition where the sciatic nerve gets irritated, causing pain which can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant to experience. The pain usually runs down the length of the nerve, which flows down your back and branches into your hips, through your butt and down your legs. Therefore, when that nerve is irritated you can really feel the pain throughout a huge portion of your body, and it can make it very difficult to do even simple daily activities.

There are, however, certain things that elderly people who suffer with sciatica can do in order to ease the pain. Exercise and stretching tend to be the two best things for sciatica pain relief, and one type of stretching in particular that you should try are piriformis stretches.

The piriformis muscle is located in the bum at the top of the hips. Doing stretches and exercises that target this muscle is great for helping to relieve sciatica pain as it works the lower body which in turn helps relieve tension and pain in the back.

Below are 12 examples of piriformis stretches you can do to relieve sciatica pain.

#1 Supine Piriformis Stretch

This is a great one for if you are finding yourself experiencing pain predominantly in your leg or knees.

  • Firstly, lie down flat on your back
  • Bend the knee of the leg that is causing you pain and pull the leg up towards your chest
  • Place one hand so it is holding the area behind the knee, and wrap the other hand around your ankle
  • Pull the affected knee towards the opposite knee, leading with your ankle, until you feel a nice stretch
  • This shouldn’t cause you discomfort, and if it does then don’t push the leg too far
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Return to original position
  • Repeat 3 times

#2 Cross-body Piriformis Stretch

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs flat on the floor
  • Put the foot of the painful leg on the floor outside of the opposite knee, so that the affected knee is bent
  • With the opposite hand, pull the bent knee so that it goes straight across your body
  • Push down until you can feel the stretch, but do not force it down too low
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Return to starting position and repeat 3 time

#3 4-Point Piriformis Stretch

  • Go down to the floor so that you are on all fours
  • Bring the painful leg so it is tucked into the front of your body
  • Your calf should be parallel to your shoulder
  • Straighten out your opposite leg and lower your hips towards the floor
  • You should feel a stretch deep in the hip that is causing you pain
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Return to original position
  • Repeat three times

#4 Knee-to-Chest Piriformis Stretch

  • Lie flat on your back
  • Bend both your knees
  • Take your affected leg and place your ankle on the thigh of the opposite leg
  • With your hands, take hold of the unaffected leg and slowly pull it off the ground
  • Keep bringing the foot up until you feel a stretch in your glutes, although don’t force it too high
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Return the foot to the ground
  • Repeat 3 times

#5 Seated Piriformis Stretch

  • Sit upright on a chair
  • Take the painful leg and cross it over the knee of the opposite leg
  • Keeping your spine straight, bend your chest forward
  • Keep bending forward but stop once it starts to feel uncomfortable or painful
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Repeat with the opposite leg

#6 Outer Hip Stretch

  • Lie flat on your back
  • Bend the knee of the affected leg, bringing the leg upwards and then tuck your foot in behind the knee of the opposite leg
  • Twist the affected leg to the opposite side so that the knee is touching, or is very close to, the floor
  • Place one hand on your unaffected knee, and then raise your other arm high in the air
  • Hold for 20 seconds
  • Repeat with the other leg

#7 Standing Piriformis Stretch

You can hold onto a chair or other stationery object to help with balance in this move. Check out the second exercise in the video for the demonstration of this exercise.

  • Stand up straight
  • Bring the painful leg across the opposite knee so that it looks a little like the number 4
  • Bring your hips down so they are at a
  • and keep going until they reach the floor
  • Bend the supporting, straight leg to help lower yourself down
  • As you lower your hips you will also be bending forward at the waist, and as you do so you should reach down and try to touch the ground with your hands
  • You should try to keep your spine straight throughout
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds
  • Repeat with opposite leg

#8 Groin Stretch

  • Sit down on the floor
  • Stretch your legs out so they are as far away from your body as you can manage
  • Place both of your hands on the floor in front of you, and bring your torso down towards the ground
  • Keep your spine straight as you do this
  • Rest your forearms and elbows on the floor
  • Hold for between 10 and 20 seconds

#9 Side Lying Clam

  • Lie down on the least painful side of your body
  • Bend your knees so the bottom half of your legs are behind you
  • One foot should be on top of the other and you should be creating a shape that looks like the letter L
  • Lift the knee of the leg that’s on top whilst keeping your feet together
  • Hold for a couple of seconds and then bring the knee back down to the original position
  • Repeat about 15 times

#10 Inner Thigh Stretch

  • Sit on the ground
  • Place the soles of your feet together in front of you
  • Place both your hands on the ankles of your opposite leg
  • Slowly and gently push down with your knees as if you are trying to get them to touch the ground
  • Hold for 30 seconds and then release and flutter your legs for a further 30 seconds
  • Repeat

#11 Piriformis Buttocks Stretch

  • Go down so you are on all fours
  • Bring the foot of the painful leg up towards your stomach
  • Twist the leg to the opposite side, pointing the knee towards the opposite shoulder
  • Bring your forehead to the ground
  • Lay your forearms flat on the floor for support
  • Take the unaffected leg and stretch it out behind you
  • Try to push your hips slightly towards the ground
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Return to original position
  • Repeat 3 times

#12 Hip Extension

  • Go down to the floor so that you are on all fours
  • Your hands should be on the floor in line with your shoulders
  • Bring your affected leg up into the air, bending it at the knee
  • Slowly bring it back down to the floor, but do not let your leg actually touch the ground
  • Repeat 15 times
  • Do the same on the opposite leg if needed

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