The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. It runs from the lower back through the buttock and down the lower limbs.
The baby will often press upon this nerve towards the end of your pregnancy. Additionally pregnancy hormones will soften the ligaments in your back, which will result in more pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Sciatic pain feels like pins and needles or shooting, burning pain in the lower back, buttock and/or leg and sometimes you can have numbness in your leg and foot.
The piriformis muscle in your buttocks can often compress the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica. Doing a seated piriformis stretch can often help. You can do this several times per day. If you feel an improvement in your symptoms, repeat the exercise frequently.
This is how you do the stretch:
Seated Piriformis stretch
- Sit on the edge of a chair and straighten your back.
- Place your left hand on your left knee to keep it in place. Then lift your left foot and place the outside of your left ankle on your right knee.
- Lower your chest towards your knees and stop when you feel a strong stretch in the left buttock.
- Hold for 30 seconds and then put your left leg down.
- Repeat with the right leg.
You can also do a seated hamstring stretch. This is a stretch of the back of your thighs and may reduce sciatic pain as well. You can do this several times per day. If you feel an improvement in your symptoms, repeat the exercise frequently. This is how you do the stretch:
Seated Hamstring stretch
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and create a 45 degree space between them.
- Straighten your back and lift your arms straight in front of you.
- Gently lower your chest toward the floor and try to touch your toes with your fingers.
- When you feel a strong stretch, hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 2 times.
Do contact you health care provider if you notice progressive weakness in the leg or have bladder/bowel incontinence.