Sciatica? 3 Things You Need To Do

A lot of people experience pain in their low back, buttocks, hip, and even down their leg. When the pain follows this pattern it usually indicates some problem with the sciatic nerve, often referred to as sciatica.

For some people, this means pain when standing or lying down, and for others sitting down can make the pain worse. Sometimes, just staying in one place for too long increases pain…

You can see how this could get in the way of just about everything we do. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you have experienced this first hand and know how big of a Pain in the butt this can be (Excuse the Dad Joke).

Idaho Direct Physical Therapy helps people with Sciatica all the time. Believe it or not, this is one of our favorite things to work with. Why? Because once we determine the root cause of a person’s specific Sciatica, we can usually get people out of pain in just a couple visits!

What is Sciatica and what to do about it?

The sciatic nerve is a huge nerve in the leg that is actually 5 nerves merged together. When that big nerve gets irritated, the outcome is pain. This is usually caused by either a low back problem, muscle weakness, muscle tightness, or some combination of these.

To stay happy, nerves like 3 things: Movement, space, and blood flow. If the nerves don’t get one or multiple of these, they get angry and throw a tantrum. (They are kind of like a toddler in this sense).

So how do we keep the sciatic nerve happy? Give it what it wants (this is where the parenting metaphor ends).

1. Keep moving! One of the worst things we can do for sciatica is to find a comfortable spot and stay there until the end of time (as tempting as that can be).

Being sedentary for long periods of time can make muscles weaker and tighter. It also decreases blood flow. If we stop moving, the nerve loses movement, can lose space (muscles tightening), and not have increased blood flow making the pain worse when you eventually do move (you’ll have to go to the bathroom eventually).

You want to move in a way that does not make the pain worse, but keep moving.

If the pain is better in standing or lying down, try lying on your stomach and prop yourself up on your elbows then lower your chest back down to the bed a few times.

If it is better to sit, sit and reach down toward your toes then slowly back up to sitting upright.

Pro Tip: When you start moving, if the pain gets a little worse, but decreases in total surface area you’re doing something right.

For example: if the pain ran down to your knee and you started moving and the pain is now only down to your hip, but is a little more intense that is a good thing (it’s called centralizing your pain).

2. Stretching: Oftentimes the sciatic nerve gets pinched in the glutes. Glute stretches can help open up some space for the nerve and make it a little happier.

When you first start stretching the pain may get a little worse, but keep at it multiple times a day for about a week and you should notice some improvement. These should be GENTLE stretches. This is NOT a “No Pain, No Gain” situation here.

3. Strengthening: Core strengthening exercises can help provide more support for your spine. These are gentle and often subtle exercises, but can make a big difference over time.

One that I like to start off with is a simple one lying down on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor (or bed). Then say out loud “OOOOO” and focus on what is happening in your abdomen. Try to mimic that contraction 10-15 times holding for 5 seconds each time. This works your transverse abdominis muscle which is a deep core muscle that supports your spine.

Bonus: Physical Therapy: The fastest and safest way to get rid of sciatica is to work one on one with a physical therapist. If you would like a little guidance with quickly fixing that Sciatica once and for all we are here to help.

Idaho Direct Physical Therapy helps injured outdoor enthusiasts get out of pain with convenient telehealth physical therapy so they can get back to their favorite adventures.

If Sciatica is interfering with your life, Idaho Direct Physical Therapy can help.

Give us a call 208-557-1470.


Disclaimer: This content is for general, informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice.


Dr. Tyler Burke

DPT, Owner and Founder of Switchback Direct PT

We help injured outdoor enthusiasts to stop hurting and start adventuring.

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