12. Seated Stretch
This is an effective lower-body piriformis stretch that will engage all muscles in your pelvis and lower back. It’s a good sciatica stretch too.
- While in a seated position, cross your right leg over your left knee.
- Bend slightly forward, making sure to keep your back straight.
- Hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
When exercising, it’s best to work the entire area and all connected muscles. They support each other and so they must work together. Sciatic pain that is caused by an injured or misaligned piriformis muscle can be relieved by releasing the surrounding muscles.
In the context of the stretches above, you are trying to reduce pain, not increase it. Stretch slowly and if it hurts, modify your extension or don’t do it. You should feel muscle tension but not pain when exercising. “No pain, no gain” doesn’t apply here. You can end up sending a muscle into spasm or pulling it, resulting in more pain and a longer recovery period.
“A gentle stretch relaxes the muscles, letting them release and grow longer. But too intense a stretch can actually create an inflammatory response…meaning your body is trying to repair damage. Any time you cause pain, you actually cause tissue damage,” warns Best Health Mag (5)
Holding a stretch for more than 15 seconds at a time can cut off oxygen to the muscles. The more intense the piriformis stretch, the less time you should hold it. (6)
You shouldn’t stretch cold muscles; doing so can cause injury. Do at least a moderate 5-minute warm-up first to loosen muscles and connective tissue before stretching. You can find a warm-up routine here.