Sciatica: how to relieve the pain for training

Suffer from sciatica? Nick Beer explains a 'nerve flossing' exercise that can help alleviate the pain sciatica causes

Credit: Media for Medical / Contributor / Getty

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a painful condition that’s caused when the nerve roots of the sciatic nerve are irritated or compressed. Most commonly, this is caused by a herniated disc in the lower back.


Sciatica symptoms

Typical characteristics include: tingling, numbness and burning sensations, which can make walking and bending from the waist very difficult.

 Sciatica treatment

An effective technique to alleviate the pain is ‘nerve flossing’, which repeatedly mobilises and releases the sciatic nerve through the lower leg’s soft tissues. E.g: 

1. Lie on your back and pull the knee of the affected side towards your chest.

2. Place both hands on the back of the thigh and hold the knee in a fixed position.

3. Slowly begin to straighten the lower leg. Maintain dorsiflexion of the foot until you feel the stretch. Hold for no more than 1-2secs. You should feel the stretch through the back of the knee, hamstring, calf and possibly the foot. 

4. Release and return to the start position.

5. Repeat x 30.

Please note, this is not a sustained stretch and should not be held for long if you’re experiencing pain. When the pain becomes manageable, try these two variations:

As above, but hold the knee in the fixed position. Flex and point your foot x 30.


Increase the difficulty by adding a large resistance band.

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