Nerves extend from your brain and spinal cord throughout your body, sending vital messages. A pinched nerve can occur when a nerve is compressed or squeezed by a herniated disc in the spinal cord, a ligament, muscle or cartilage. This pressure causes damage or inflammation to the nerve that can result in pain, muscle weakness, numbness or a tingling sensation. Stretching and extension exercises are an effective way to strengthen and stretch the muscles in the affected area. This relieves the pressure on the nerve, reduces the pain and discomfort and returns nerve function.
A pinched nerve in the lumbar area can be especially painful and debilitating. The lumbar pain spreads along the lower leg below the knee, in the calves and/or in the foot. The pain is strong, continuous, with a burning sensation and numbness of the legs, which can restrict your movement.
Often, the pain spreads in one leg, and can be stronger than the pain experienced in the lumbar area. The pain intensifies at night, after prolonged standing, sitting, sneezing, coughing or stress.
Traditionally, sciatica treatment is primarily conducted by using appropriate medication recommended by a doctor. However, why limit yourself to painkillers when some simple stretching can effectively remedy the underlying cause?
How to Release a Pinched Nerve
Stretching exercises can be very useful here. The right stretch can release the nerve from its bind, help calm the inflammation and thereby alleviate the pain.
While the two stretches described here are light and designed to help the lumbar area, you need to tread carefully to avoid aggravating your condition. Make sure you follow the instructions and perform the exercises slowly and attentively. The right time to increase the stretch is while breathing out.
We start by lying flat on the floor, bending the painful leg and slightly pull it towards the shoulder. Once you feel a stretch, hold the leg in that position for some 30 seconds. Afterwards, release and straighten the leg back in the starting position, take a short break, and repeat the movement two more times.
Again, from a supine position, bend your knees and slowly pull them toward the chest – make sure you are not lifting your buttocks of the floor! Cross your legs, as shown in the figure above, and pull the healthy leg with your hand. Keep the legs in this position for 30 seconds, release them, and return to the original position. Repeat the exercise two more times.
By performing this stretching you will also stimulate your blood circulation and eliminate stagnation in the muscles, which in turn will speed-up your recovery.
If you liked this, be sure to also check our recommended yoga exercises for sciatica and daily activities that are aggravating your sciatica.