Sciatica: aka the Biggest Pain in the Butt!

By Ross Ashcraft

Do you have Sciatica?  Many of us have a lingering ached in our tail bone.  Sometimes it shoots down our leg.  Periodically it will give us a numbing sensation.  Or do you feel it as a burning sensation?

Sciatica or Sciatic Syndrome or Sciatic nerve pain or Piriformis Syndrome is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve as it leaves the sacrum.  The sacrum is the bone just above your tail bone.  This nerve can be compressed in several ways.


1.  When the sacral bone is twisted it presents a sharper edge to the sciatic nerve.  Therefore, when we move around or have extra stress in that region.  The nerve rubs up against the bone causing pain.

2.  The sciatic nerve pierces the piriformis muscles.  In 80% to 85% of the populations, the piriformis muscle and the sciatic nerve lie side by side.  However, in some cases people will have this nerve passing through or piercing this muscle.  Therefore, every time it gets inflamed or moved excessively it will rub the sciatic nerve and cause pain.

3.  The piriformis muscle gets inflamed.  When the piriformis gets inflamed it encroaches on the territory of the sciatic nerve.  The sciatic nerve gets annoyed at this obvious invasion and gets very inflamed.  The sciatic then swells pushing against the bone and other structures which causes pain.  Of the three conditions, this is the one that is the most easily treated.


1.  Find a Massage Therapist.  Getting soft tissue work by a massage therapist that knows how to address this condition will give you a lot of relief.

2.  Stretch before going to sleep.  I have three stretching routines for you below.   Each stretch must be held for a minimum of 30 seconds.  Ideally you’ll hold much longer or until you feel the muscle relax.

A)  While lying on your back, use an elastic band or any rope to pull your foot across your body.  Hold until you feel a release.

B)  While kneeling on the floor, outstretch one leg behind you and twist the foot of the other outward.  Hold until you feel a release.


C)  See below for how to modify this stretch by using your bed or soft table.  Lean over your knee until you feel a release.

 Challenge:   Try all these stretches and see which one works best for you.  Comment on your experience.  We love comments!


77 thoughts on “Sciatica: aka the Biggest Pain in the Butt!”

  1. Wow! I was really hoping to find a MT to do some soft tissue work, but these Hawaiian Locals do not do light, they get in deep. I really liked the band exercise. I didn’t use a band, but a towel, and still got a bit of release. The leg outward and other foot inward was a bit awkward for me. I did like the one with the bed. This one was pretty comfortable, I could really feel a good stretch. I have trouble with my sciatic nerve quite often, so this was really good information – thanks!

  2. My favorite is b. When I do one of these stretches, I usually have to do all of them before I feel like I can go do something else. It feels like they each stretch in a slightly different way.

  3. I have lower back pain a lot, but I have noticed that when I do these stretches that it makes my day and night a lot better.I have even been able to show a few other people these stretches so it can help them also.

  4. I like the third stretch on the massage bed. I found that it was simpler for me because I could keep my back straight. I did like all three stretches and found them all to be very helpful.

  5. Learning how to address the problem, the pain in the butt, was great. The technique is simple but efficient. As far as the stretches go, I have been doing them since I started this course and it has helped me a lot. My husband did it for the first time this week and he is doing it more often now. It really helps. I am addicted to stretches anyway.

  6. I like the last technique on the massage table. Thankfully i don’t have a lot of sciatic pain but i do love this stretch anyways. I do it every morning as soon as a get to class. 🙂 Love it !

  7. This information was fantastic to have!!! I don’t have sciatic problems myself but have several family members who do and will hopefully try some of these stretches. I really liked the stretch using the band but also enjoyed the one using the bed. The one using the band is a wonderful easy add to my winding down routine. Thanks!! 🙂

  8. I am one of the many people with Sciatic pain. It will go dormant for a while and then all of the sudden it will get aggravated and will cause either pain all the way down my leg or it will radiate up into my lower back and be so excruciating that I can not get out of bed. I like all of the stretches. The stretch where you lie on the floor and use something to pull your foot across your body is the one where I feel the least amount of stretch. I am very flexible so when I did it I had my calf/foot almost to my chest with my other leg straight down before I could feel any significant stretch. What I do the most when I need to stretch my sciatic is to put my calf/foot up on my bed or a table. I will lay on my leg and stretch my other leg back and down…kind of like a lunge with a bent knee. That stretch is when I can really feel it and when it does the most good.

  9. I have a twin bed at home that is about the same height I would set my massage table so I used it to try this. I was really surprised how well my right knee did because that’s the one I had surgery on a few years ago. I am grateful for all the new things I’m learning because even though there are some I can’t do even after trying, there’s exercises like this one that can help and is a big surprise. I have a friend who misses church sometimes because she has this problem and I will be sending this information to her.

  10. I have a “pain in the butt” almost all the time. I found these stretches to be very helpful and I especially like the one on the table since it’s hard for me to get on the floor. It’s great information to know why and what’s causing my “pain in the butt” now, Thanks!

  11. I like doing the stretch lying on my back and I take a folded pillow case and put it around my ankle so I can stretch like Sharon shows in the picture. This feels really good especially on my right leg. Two years ago I gave birth to my daughter naturally. Afterwards the my right leg was numb for 6 weeks. The Dr’s said I had pinched a nerve but didn’t give me any treatment options and said it would get better eventually. I haven’t since returned to those Dr’s obviously but these stretches would’ve been good to know.

  12. As far as I know I do not have sciatica but these stretches helped with giving me a good stretch all the same! My favorite had to be A not only did it make me feel like i did a good stretch it felt like i got my entire body involved.

  13. I like to lay on the ground with one leg back and my front leg bent at a 90 degree angle. I always feel so good after this stretch. Another treatment I like to do is to sit on a tennis ball. Requires little effort!

  14. I have had lower back/glute issues for years. I have tried these exercises this week daily and have noticed a huge relief to the lower back. I will be doing these exercises daily to help with the problem. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  15. I really like the kneeling stretch. My lower back has been hurting recently so, I’ll definitely keep this stretch in mind.

  16. i have always had pains in my legs when i sat for an extended period i always thought it was just because of how small i am but i did these stretches and they actually made a difference

  17. vary cool. i will have to try this some time vary soon 😀 i hope it works because my posterior falls asleep or goes numb often lol

  18. This is great advice. I have two herniated disc in my lower back which is causing me sciatic pain. I have stretched these stretches in the morning and before bed and it does seem to help for a couple hours after. I also have seen massage therapist at Clary Sage which help revealed my sciatic pain for a couple days after massage. Sitting and standing in one spot causes my pain to be worse. I do wish there was something to cure my sciatic pain. But I would suggest for others with this issue to do these stretches and see a massage therapist because it does help short term.

    1. Carolyn, I know from experience that low back pain can be like walking up, the down escalator. My advise is to ALWAYS do “something.” Especially when NOT in pain. When you are not in pain you have the opportunity to get ahead and won’t fell like you are always playing catch up. It may not see like it but you can eventually get to the top and stay ahead of the pain. Talk to me more in class and I’d love to show you some of my personal routines that seem to have help me.

  19. I have found out that it is common for people to have sciatic nerve problems. Until this week I really didn’t know how to help them but not with this blog information I Know how to help them and I know that I am helping them correctly.

  20. Considering I have been out of school and work for the past week because I sat incorrectly in church last Sunday, I won’t try these stretches til after I see a chiropractor today. My hips hurt all the way across and up to my ribs, neck and head. I do have a freind that might suffer from Sciatica everyday, she is waiting on an MRI, I will tell her about these stretches and see if they wont’ help her. I will try these as soon as stuff is back in place! 🙂 Thank you Ross for your knowledge and help!

  21. I have problems with sciatica. Have for years. I like A because it really stretches out that area. I do this frequently.It is very beneficial. Thanks for the addl stretches will definitely add them to my routine.

  22. I love doing these sciatica stretches. I do have sciatic pain from time to time so these stretches definitely come in handy. I prefer doing C when I am doing it myself, but when I am in class and we are doing stretches I prefer to have my therapist do similar to example A.

  23. I don’t have an sciatic nerve pain, but my husband does, and he uses the first and second stretch, and I often rub his lower back for me. It seems to help. I tried all three stretches and I like the first one the best. I used my belt to get a good stretch, and it felt awesome! I think I’ll start to use this stretch more, and I’ll definitely have my husband start stretching before bed. It should help him sleep.

  24. I personally like the stretching technique using my table. I always get more of a stretch in my gluteals and adductors. I find this helps my muscles handle the lunge position better at the end of my massage day.

  25. I’m blogging on this again because things have changed since the first time I blogged on this. Doing some of the stretches since the first time I commented on this blog has helped make it easier to do the stretch on the bed. I still have to turn my leg a certain way before straightening it out but at least the stretch is easier.

  26. I like the stretch putting one leg on the table and leaning forward. I can do the one on the floor but it hurts. These stretches help tension in my lower back/butt, it’s great!

  27. I had this while I was pregnant and it was very painful and made walking difficult. I don’t think I would of been able to get back up from doing some of these stretches though. This is helpful if I ever do happen to get it again.

  28. Great blog! I continue to love these stretches, especially the one using the table, and have recommended them to several people. Though I don’t have problems with my sciatic nerve, I still find the stretches super beneficial.

  29. I have had the chance to go over these again considering my condition when it first came around to me. I love these stretches.. I believe I like the one with the band or towel alot better… more stretch .. thanks again Ross!

  30. i never new that a small percentage of people have their sciatic never that actually goes through the muscle. that’s interesting. those are some great stretches, i like stretch b the most because it also stretches hip flexor on opposite leg

  31. I had this pain so bad when I was pregnant that it would stop me in my tracks. I was never told about the stretching you could do or of massage therapists who knew how to work with a client who had these problems. I will try the stretching myself and recommend it to others.

  32. I find all of these to be very helpful. I highly encourage other people to try this and see if it helps them the same way that other people have been helped.

  33. I will most definitely try theses techniques. I have lower back pain a lot so I cannot wait to try these maneuvers.

  34. Actually I recommend some clients at Clary Sage to do some of these stretches if they complain of some gluteal pains or if we had to do some really great work on the glutes that session. Just to make sure they don’t go sore for the next couple of days.

  35. I am so excited to see these stretches! I think that I have sciatic issues, and will try these tonight….yes, tonight, on New Year’s Eve! Thank you!

  36. I do not have a problem with my sciatic nerve but I definitely find it helpful to learn about since so many people out there do. I will definitely be dealing with clients who have this type of problem.

  37. I prefer option B I always enjoy a good stretch and it was nice to obtain a way to make a change anywhere without having any extra articles like bands and such. Awesome blog thanks for the information

  38. Used this over the weekend on a friend that was having back pain.
    We started with the neck and ended at the P muscle to find that was in fact inflamed and pressing on the nerve.

  39. I think these stretches are amazing. I don’t have sciatic problems, but I do spend a lot of time sitting down in a wooden chair doing homework, which results in glute, TFL, and general hip discomfort. I experience this pain when standing, walking, and sitting for long periods of time. But with these stretches I am able to access these areas to a level that is comfortable for me. Which is handy because I can’t massage and access these areas on myself. I think using the tables and soft surfaces is an excellent idea, at least starting out so that it reduces the stress and pressure put on the muscles as well as the bony contact points, like the ankle bone and knee. These would be great to impliment in the evenings after doing my homework or before bed.

  40. I have had sciatic pain in my high school days. But I must say that this is the good way to stretch. This is absolutely a better way to stretch and it can also help improve my dancing with these sciatic stretches.

  41. I love these stretches! I do not suffer from sciatic pain but know a few people that do. Thanks!

  42. I developed severe sciatica after an injury at work,and the massage treatments that I revived in physical therapy was the only thing that really helped me recover. Although I still have flare ups once in a while,doing certain stretches and exercises similar to the ones shown here has helped reduce them tremendously.

  43. As soon as I read about these exercises I did there bed one using a higher chair that we have. The first thing I notice was it popped and then a sharp pain went down my leg but after staying there for 3 min I found some relief, so thank you hopefully I can sleep better tonight.

  44. I haven’t ever experienced sciatic pain to my knowledge but these are great stretches to do! Thanks for the info.

  45. I showed a client one of these stretches on the massage table just last week. I hope it helped her! My husband gets this pain badly all the way down to his heel. He really likes petrissage and skin rolling on the upper, outer quadrants of the gluteus Maximus. Static pressure right on the Piriformis is okay too- you just have to be very sensitive to your client’s tolerance with that.

  46. Interesting blog i like how it has directions on how to do the stretchs i can use this for clients and or my self pizza

  47. I like the technique with a band or rope to use while stretching. Great way to stretch while laying down!

  48. I have sciatic flare ups and I know these stretches would really help if I would do them each evening!

  49. The hip stretch on the table is my favorite one, it is a bit painful, but it seems to allow the most stretching with the least effort.
    Keeping the hips loose helps keep the lower back pain free for sure. If a client has sciatic pain, it is quite debilitating. Helping ease that pain and equiping them with stretches to keep the pain at bay is well appreciated by the client and rewarding for the thrapist.

  50. Thanks Ross for another great piece of advice. I can’t wait to share with my Mom who has alot problems with this.

  51. I will have to go these stretches, I have a lot of lower back pain and never seem to get enough relieve for it.

  52. Love these stretches. I always get made fun of at work for sneaking behind the desk and stretching like this, but it helps after walking so much and lifting patients.

  53. I haven’t ever had this issue. But I have heard complaints from people who suffer from this. I’ll share this with them.

  54. I love these stretches! They feel so good to do in the morning and after a good workout! They help loosen up my hips.

  55. Out of all these techniques, I like the stretch done on the table. It gives me good balance to do it and it also feels better to me.

  56. Those stretches feel really good. I did not know how close the sciatic nerve is to the Piriformis muscle. I am excited to do these stretches and to help others by telling them about these stretches