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Top 5 Solutions for Sciatic Pain During Pregnancy

Posted by Jesse Lillejord on
What is sciatica? Why does it happen so often during pregnancy? We share this + our TOP 5 SOLUTIONS TO SCIATICA PAIN ~ including pregnancy safe stretches and key changes to implement! 
Sciatic pain relief
 Pregnancy creates a perfect storm for low back and pelvic pain as women experience sudden weight gain with baby growth, posture // gait changes, and hormone changes that affect ligament laxity [ increased relaxin levels during pregnancy ]. One of the conditions that can occur in this area is ‘sciatica’. Sciatica pain is a catch-all term for pain that is stemming from the sciatic nerve — the longest nerve in the body. The nerve is created by the lumbar and sacral nerve roots [ the nerves that exit the spinal cord in the low back] and travels down as a thick cord underneath a tiny muscle — the piriformis. 
The piriformis is one of the outside rotators for the hip, attaching at the back edge of the tailbone & extending to the outside of the femur [ thigh bone ]. When it becomes tight it actually compresses the sciatic nerve tracking underneath it causing pain in your backside that can extend down the back of the leg. Although there are other causes to sciatica pain [ like disc herniations in the low back ], this is the most common cause we see in the clinic with our pregnant women! 
Without further delay:


Pelvic adjustments

1. Pelvic & Low Back Alignment 

During pregnancy, the body shifts in tremendous ways to accommodate the growing baby. One hallmark is the pelvic movement. Your pelvis is made of two large bones that connect to either side of the sacrum [ also termed SI joint ]. This area is responsible for transferring forces from the spine into the pelvis and lower extremity. As pregnancy progresses and baby grows, the pelvis tilts forward, which places more stress on both the SI joints and low back.
Since the piriformis muscle attaches to the edges of the sacrum and extends across the pelvis to connect to the thigh bone, SI misalignment can lead to piriformis tightness or spasm, as well as asymmetrical motion that can worsen symptoms. 
Adjustments create proper mobility + alignment in these joint spaces, thus taking pressure off + decreasing pain. 

Book Your Appointment HERE!

Check out our podcast episode where we talk with a mama and her journey with adjustments + pregnancy! 
Adjustments Through Pregnancy  
Sciatic pain stretching

2. Targeted Stretching and Lengthening 

Stretching and lengthening the piriformis muscle is one of the key elements to sciatica pain relief during pregnancy.  In the clinic we work on muscle lengthening for this area as well as demonstrate stretches that you can do at home!  Pictured above are our favorite home stretches that target this small but mighty muscle!
Targeted Piriformis Stretchs step-by-step:
1. Cross one ankle over your knee while sitting to get into a figure-4 position
2. Pull your bent knee toward your chest
3. Turn and look over the same side shoulder as the bent knee
***Need more??? Below are 14 easy + helpful stretches to provide sciatic pain relief at home! These stretches focus on the piriformis muscle + lower body to target that pesky sciatic pain.
Sciatic Pain Relief
This muscle can be difficult to isolate, especially later during pregnancy when reaching past your belly gets difficult. Below is a video of a PARTNER PIRIFORMIS STRETCH that can be really helpful [ especially for flexible women ].



Step-by-step for Partner Piriformis Stretch: 

1.  Bring one leg up + over so that you create a figure four with one ankle crossed over your thigh [have your partner hold your crossed knee and ankle].
2. Next your partner will push your leg closer to your body. Press both the ankle and knee forward until a stretch is felt. 
3. Hold this for a tolerable amount of time / stretch. 
4. If you need more of a stretch, you can push your ankle outward into your partners hand for a 3 second hold + then relax as this actively stretches the piriformis muscle.
5. If you don't have a partner you can use a scarf to help pull your leg toward your body  [make sure to keep yourself propped up if you're an expecting mama + don't lie flat on your back].
6. Make sure to do both sides! 
Flexion - distraction

3. Flexion Distraction

Flexion distraction is another chiropractic technique we utilize in the clinic for numerous conditions, one being sciatica pain. Flexion distraction [ pictured above ] involves gapping the spinal joint segments, creating movement and hydration to to the joints and disc spaces. This motion assists in flossing the sciatic nerve. Nerve flossing or nerve gliding involves assisting the nerve so it more easily glides between tissues. Flexion distraction is also a great tool if sciatic pain is stemming from a disc herniations or disc problem. 


Exercise ball during pregnancy

4. Exercise ball

If you know CHIRO FOR MOMS, you know one our all time favorite tools is an exercise ball!  Utilizing an exercise ball for sitting [ rather than your desk chair or couch ] takes pressure off of the sciatic nerve + piriformis muscle.  Additionally, it forces a better sitting posture and allows for a less static position. We encourage you to incorporate pelvic motions while using your ball [ pelvic tilts and figure 8’s ].
If you are looking to get your own exercise ball, we have two great suggestions on our Recommended Products page.


Support belts during pregnancy

5. Belly bands [ lumbosacral support belt ] 

Support belts can be a great option to help reduce sciatic pain. These belts are designed to be worn during walks + bending + twisting movements [ it will be uncomfortable if you sit with them on! ]. You will want to wear them lower than you think so they support the top part of the pelvis - taking the weight from belly off the low back + pressure off the muscles + nerves. 
Read our most recent blog post on support belts during pregnancy below: 
Support Belts During Pregnancy Blog
[ Postpartum pain: Some women’s symptoms resolve postpartum as the stressors are relieved from pregnancy. However, other women may continue to experience pelvic or sacroiliac joint pain. For these women we recommend continuing chiropractic care and looking into physical therapy to focus on pelvic stabilizing exercises ]. 
 *** As always don't hesitate to reach out with questions /// thoughts surrounding this topic! ***
Book Your Appointment HERE!
Just email us :
Facebook: @chiroformomsclinic
Instagram: @chiro_for_moms
p : 952-378-1085  | f : 612-999-1983


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