Tightness in the hips or pain from sciatica can be relieved with a few simple stretching exercises. Many of these pains are caused by muscular imbalances, poor posture or tight, shortened muscles. Stretching can help you to lengthen and strengthen weak muscles and release the tension in tight or contracted muscles.
Here are examples of the most effective stretching exercises for hips and thighs:
1. Piriformis Stretch
The piriformis muscle is located deep within your pelvis. When the piriformis shortens from inactivity, it becomes too tight and press down on your sciatic nerve and cause pain in your hips, thighs or buttocks. This stretch will help to “release” the Piriformis.
Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor in front of you. Take your left leg and cross it over your right leg as you wrap your arms around your left knee and hug it close to your chest. You’ll feel the stretch from your lower spine and down the length of your leg. Hold this stretch as long as you are comfortable, relax and switch knees and legs and repeat.
2. Cobra Stretch
We often spend much of our day sitting at a desk or behind the wheel of a car, and many of us don’t have good posture while we do so. This poor posture leads to muscles that shorten and pull us forward and force us to slouch and cause back pain. The cobra stretch is a yoga pose that helps to pull your muscles in the opposite direction to undo some of the effects of sitting all day.
Lie facedown on the floor on your stomach. Place your hands on the floor at chest level and then push only your upper body off the ground as if you are slowly peeling your torso off of the floor. Lean your head back while keeping your hips and legs in contact with the floor. This stretch will help you “open” up your back and stretch the muscles that are forcing you to slouch forward.
3. Swan Dive and Flat Back
This is another yoga stretch that lengthens tight, shortened muscles. Start by standing with your back straight and your feet together as you raise your hands above your head with your elbows straight. Slowly lower your arms and bend at your hips to touch your toes. You may not actually be able to touch your toes, at least not yet. Keep your back flat and straight. If you continue with this stretch over time, your flexibility will increase greatly and you will eventually be able to touch your toes. You’ll feel this stretch from your lower back and down your hips and thighs.
These three leg and hip stretching exercises will help loosen tight, shortened muscles and may also relieve painful pressure on your Sciatic nerve. Stretching may take some time for noticeable improvement, – stick with them for 2-4 weeks and you’ll find your pain relieved.