Stretching & Flexibility/sciatica

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Question
I seem to be getting what I feel is sciatic nerve pain. It is very deep in the hip but I don't have any referred pain down the leg other than heel pain which I believe is unrelated. I've been doing the lying piriformis stretch where you would cross ankle of the good side on top of the quad above the opposite knee then grabbing the good knee and pull the hip into flexion. This doesn't really seem to give relief for long (eye of the needle stretch. Can this stretch actually increase pressure on the sciatic nerve or does the hip flexion portion of the stretch essentially move the obturator externus out of the way? BTW I am somewhat confused with how putting the hip in external rotation, stretch the piriformis when it is an external rotator of the hip. Also when I am seated bringing my knees together (internal rotation) aggravates the pain.

Answer
Hi Rick,

Thanks for your inquiry. It's a pleasure to help and I hope the following is beneficial.

What typically happens with piriformis syndrome and sciatica is the large muscle groups around the hip tighten up (to protect the piriformis) and make it virtually impossible to stretch the piriformis. So the best treatment is to start by working on the large muscle groups around your hips, like the lower back, buttocks, hamstrings, groin and quads. Once these start to loosen up then you can start to do some of the more specific stretches for the piriformis. Or what typically happens is the piriformis pain (or sciatic pain) goes away by itself.

There's some more detailed information about piriformis syndrome here... http://injuryfix.com/archives/piriformis-syndrome.php

And sciatica here... http://injuryfix.com/archives/sciatica.php

Also, if you want stretches for the large muscle groups I mentioned above, take a look at our stretching videos here... http://injuryfix.com/stretching-videos.php

I hope the above has been helpful. For more information on stretching, flexibility and sports injury management, visit Injury Fix.


Brad Walker
Founder & CEO
Injury Fix™

Stretching & Flexibility

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Brad Walker (The Stretch Coach)

Expertise

I'm more than happy to answer any questions relating to stretching, flexibility and sports injury management. Including how to use stretching to improve your athletic performance, prevent sports injury and aid in the recovery of sports injury.

Experience

I'm an internationally recognized stretching and sports injury consultant with more than 20 years of practical experience in the health and fitness industry. I'm also the founder of the Stretching Institute and StretchCoach.com.

Organizations
Sports Medicine Australia

Publications
I've written 5 books on stretching, flexibility and sports injury, including... The Stretching Handbook (ISBN: 978-0958109338), The Anatomy of Stretching (ISBN: 978-1556435966) and The Anatomy of Sports Injuries (ISBN: 978-1556436666). Plus, I've had numerous articles published at About.com, Athletes.com and BodyBuilding.com.

Education/Credentials
I'm a health science graduate of the University of New England, with post graduate accreditation's in athletics, swimming and triathlon coaching. I've worked with elite level and world champion athletes and I've lectured for Sports Medicine Australia on sports injury prevention and treatment.

Past/Present Clients
I've worked as assistant coach to Miles Stewart (World Champion Triathlete) and Mick Doohan (World 500cc Motorcycle Champion). Plus I've worked with countless other athletes from sports as diverse as roller-skating, squash, and cycling.

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