Foam Roller Exercises for Sciatica – It doesn’t have to be painful

My aim with this article is to talk about sciatica and how you can actually use a foam roller and related stretches to alleviate that pain. If you don’t know what this condition is then stay tuned to find out more about it. Below you will find out what sciatica is, approximately how many people suffer from it and some helpful foam roller exercises for sciatica.

Warning: Some of these moves will require you to get close to your lower back. Please remember if you suffer from a herniated disc (known as a mechanical injury) you should consult your doctor before foam rolling on my lower back.

What is Sciatica?

When you’re talking about the condition known as Sciatica, you’re talking about irritation along the path of the sciatic nerve. This is a nerve that starts branching off at your lower hip area, goes through your buttocks and down your upper and lower leg. Think of this nerve as a central nerve. If this nerve gets compressed or pinched, the whole operation goes downhill. Moving becomes difficult and painful…not to mention, exercise! How can you even think about exercise with this going on?Sciatic-Nerve-Pain

According to the mayo clinic, sciatica happens when that sciatic nerve gets compressed by an issue with the spine. This can be caused by a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine, or a when the spine narrows through spinal stenosis.

Sciatica delivers a burning sensation and can be very painful, but don’t stress, it can be alleviated!

Who does it affect?

Did you know according to the National Institute of Health, that this condition affects n general an estimated 5%-10% of patients with low back pain? People are having to deal with this issue and we have to be aware of it.

It has a greater effect on…

    • Taller people
    • People within ages 45-64 years old
    • Smokers
    • People of drive constantly for a living
    • People who have a job that requires heavy lifting, bending and twisting.

This also has an effect on anybody who is not using proper form when exercising (weight lifting, yoga, stretching, Pilates, running, you name it!)

What can you do to make it less painful?

People with temporary sciatica nerve pain can stretch it out …or wait it out (I wouldn’t recommend that.) They can also use a foam roller!

But what about men and women dealing with chronic sciatic pain from herniated disc issues?

Can they benefit from a foam roller too? I’m glad you asked…of course they can! I guarantee you if you take your time and consistently practice these five exercises for sciatic nerve pain, you will be on your way to a life with much less daily pain.

Foam Roller Exercises for Sciatica that will Help you improve!

These don’t have to be performed in any particular order, but if you like my order here, feel free to go by that or pick which ones would work best for you and your situation!

1.) Hamstring Roll Out (60 seconds per side)
    • Go back and forth through the whole length of your hamstring.
    • Make sure you take your time with a slow roll.
    • Support yourself with your hands. If the pressure is too much, go to your elbows.

Hamstring-Rollout-with-foam-roller

2.) Pigeon (30 seconds per side)
    • Get into pigeon pose.
      • Take your left foot and extend it all the way up in front on your right knee.
      • Place the foam roller in front of your right knee and left foot.
    • Sit on the roller pressing into the top of your hamstring and lower glute.
    • Hold the pose and press in steadily.
    • Switch to the other side and repeat.

Pigeon-with-foam-roller-for-sciatica

3.) IT Band Rollout (60 seconds per side)
    • Turn on your side, right elbow on the floor.
    • Inset foam roller under your the upper side of your right leg.
      • Bend your left leg for support.
    • Press into your cushion right under your hip area (not on your hip bone.)
    • Switch to your other side and repeat.

IT Band-Rollout-with-a-foam-roller-for-sciatica

4.) Knee-to-chest stretch (30 seconds per side)

Warning: This stretch requires use of your lower back

    • Lay on your back
    • Place the foam roller under your glutes.
      • Bring your right knee towards your chest.
      • Place your left leg on the floor
    • Feel the pressure on those glutes and keep that angle.
    • Repeat on your right glute.

Knee-to-chest-stretch-with-a-foam-roller-for-sciatica

5.) Leg raises (10 Reps per side)

Warning: This stretch requires the use of your lower back

    • This is very similar to the knee-to-chest stretch but with some changes.
    • Place the foam roller under you where it will be running down the middle of your spine.
      • It should be between your shoulder blades and going all the way to your lower back.
    • Lay on it, place your left foot on the floor, bring your right foot to the sky.
    • Lift up, performing a leg raise slowly.
    • Make it a concentrated effort, not frenzied. (Slow and steady)

Leg-raises-with-a-foam-roller-for-sciatica

Conclusion

So, as you start to practice these exercises consistently and feel more comfort with them, up the ante (just a little) and add more pressure, add more time on to each move. You’ll start to see increased mobility and…less pain! Wouldn’t that be great! Just imagine, you can actually have a huge hand in lowering your daily pain levels. That just makes me happy thinking about it. No pills needed…just good ‘ol stretching.

Remember, it’s not going to fix all problems and I’m not a doctor…but I’ve experienced healing with this myself in different ways. Also, my wife did this not too long ago….and within about 10 minutes, she already was feeling some pain relief. It’s amazing what can happen if we treat our bodies with the healing power they deserve!

You are doing this for you, not for me. If it’s painful, stop and reassess your situation.

Ask yourself….

  • Should I be at this angle?
  • Am I feeling a stretch? Is it too much or loo little?
  • Would it help if I supported myself more and put less pressure on my problem area (hip area)?
  • Could I try adjusting my hips a little more to the left or to the right?

Please consult a doctor if your sciatica isn’t going away and ask about if using a foam roller is right for you. If it is, then please…go out and get one! It will make things so much better. Foam rolling can help with so many issues.

If you haven’t checked out my post on the Health Benefits of Foam Rolling …then please go to that post here and learn more about how amazing it can be for your health. Also, check out my post here on the different types of foam rollers out there and what would be best for you!

I hope and pray that this has been helpful to you as you move along on your journey to better health. If you try this workout, let me know how it went and if it helped you.

As always, I invite you to leave any comments, concerns, or questions down below in the comments section.

To your continued health,

Ryan

Reference Websites for this post

National Institute of Health – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1895638/

The Mayo Clinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sciatica/doctors-departments/ddc-20377442

8 Replies to “Foam Roller Exercises for Sciatica – It doesn’t have to be painful”

  1. I can attest to the fact that foam rollers are very effective when it comes to relieving and easing body pain, as it is here, it deals with Sciatica in a great way with the help of proper instructions and consistent exercising with the foam roller, its will help you improve your health as you’ll be able to move around more. I’ll strongly recommend roller foams for people who are battling with Sciatica of any other sort of body pain, its very effective and it has no side effects. Thanks for sharing this article, it is very informative and nice.

    1. Jones,

      That’s great! Yes, foam rollers really help us deal with different muscle and nerve pains. I’m glad that you have enjoyed the benefit of using a foam roller and I’m sure seen improvements and less daily pain. Keep doing it! 

      Thank you so much for your comment and visiting my site, I really appreciate it!

      – Ryan

  2. Hi Ryan, it is clear to me that I need a lot of stretching in the hip area. I sometimes feel a kind of tightness in

     my right buttock and sometimes I feel it in my calf. It is not a pain and can be relieved by stretch and hold. My interest in this article arose because my training coach asked me if I have sciatica, so i wanted to know about it. Because of the tightness I get now and then, that roller looks like it would be just right for me. Thanks for the introduction.

    1. Hey JJ,

      So many people have tightness in two big areas, their hamstrings and their hips/glutes! Like I said in the post, so many people are affected by sciatic issues and it’s sort of an epidemic. Alot of people just try to deal with it…but you’ve gotta stretch it out. Try a few of these stretches 2-3 times a week (or even just one) it will help you so much!

      Thanks so much for your comment, I appreciate it!

      – Ryan

  3. Thank you for taking the time to put this together!

    I have a co-worker that complains about their sciatica all the time.  I’m going to share this with them.  Hopefully, it gives them some relief.

    I have a sit-down job and sometimes I get a massive pain at the base of my tailbone.  I’m not sure if it’s sciatica or not but I’m going to give these a try and see if they help relieve the pain.  What’s cool is I already have a foam roller from my chiropractor from when I went in for adjustments a few years back.

    Thanks again.  I’m looking forward to giving these a try.

    Scott

    1. Scott,

      You are absolutely welcome, my friend. Yes, please share this wonderful information with your co-worker. I know that through doing the poses myself, I can feel relief …and my wife does as well (like I had mentioned in the post.) Even if you don’t have sciatica, it’s definitely not going to hurt you to work out those muscles and it could potentially prevent it from getting worse and turning into something like sciatic nerve pain. 

      I’ve glad you’ve got a foam roller, that’s the first step! Give these a try and shoot me an email or reply to this to let me know how it went and if I can provide better instructions. Thanks so much for your comment. I try to be through and give people the right information when talking about issues such as this. Make sure to check back for more posts and exercises coming soon!

      To your health and well-being.

      – Ryan

  4. Hi Ryan, wow what great information this is. My uncle suffers from sciatica, I know sometimes he suffers quite bad but I don’t think he has tried any exercises yet. I didn’t completely understand what sciatica was until i read this and what causes it. I will forward this information to my uncle. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Lee!

      Sorry to hear that your uncle has to deal with the effects of sciatica. I can only imagine the constant nagging pain. He should definitely modify any of the moves to prevent any unnecessary pain and then as he gets more comfortable, add more pressure. If he doesn’t have a foam roller, modifying these moves into regular floor stretches isn’t too difficult. Thanks so much for sharing this with him. I hope this makes his sciatic issues more manageable. I’m grateful that you found this information helpful!

      Let me know if he tries anything and if you have any further questions!

      – Ryan

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