Archive for January 17, 2015

Here are a few quick stretches and some exercises to help reduce discomfort experienced by some people who have lower back pain and pain on the back of their thigh extending to the back of the leg. If the discomfort is caused by an irritation of the sciatic nerve by tight and weak muscles around your hip and lower back, loosening the tightness and improving muscular control of your torso may help ease the discomfort. The sciatic nerve may be irritated. It is referred to as sciatica. Try these exercises in 3 to 4 alternating days within 1 to 2 weeks and hopefully you would experience some relief. If it gets worst even before 1 to 2 weeks, the best way would be to consult your physician. Sciatica may also be caused by impinged nerve roots due to a prolapsed or herniated intervertebral disc. Pain may be more severe in this case and a proper diagnosis has to be established so that proper interventions can be formulated thus a physician should be consulted.

These exercises may have different names depending on who is describing them but the more important thing is that you do them with sufficient and appropriate intensity long enough to notice positive effect. You can rename these exercises if it helps you remember them. You may call them Benny or Roger, whatever makes you remember to get them into a regular routine. I just made up the names myself to help me visualize them.

  1. Figure 4 (and its variations)

This is very simple and as you can see, you are very familiar with it. You can do it anywhere where you can sit. What you need to emphasize is an upright back and “high” chest. If you do not feel enough stretch, then lean forward but do not slouch. The photos show in sequence from initial position to position to stretch hip internal rotators and hip external rotators to increasing intensity (by bending forward).


  1. Figure 4 went to sleep

When the first exercise does not provide enough stretch, changing position would increase the stretching effect.


  1. Hug your thigh

Since you are already lying on your back, might as well try hugging your thigh. Photo is shown above with figure 4 went to sleep.


  1. Number 7

If you felt some relief after doing the figure 4 exercise but want some more stretch, proceed to figure 4 went to sleep and hug your thigh. If you still need more stretch intensity, do what I call Number 7 (the position of the thighs and bent knee looks like number 7). Hopefully by this time you would have significant relief or there is no pain at all. Then you can start becoming more and more active, and start enjoying life more.valstrengthtrainingnumber7


For stretch exercises 1 to 4, hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds depending on your tolerance. Repeat 3 to 4 times in a session.

Here are some exercises to help you stretch further and at the same time improve muscular control of your torso:

a. Dog – bird

Needs a bit of coordination and balance. First photo is starting position. Then lift 1 arm and the opposite leg and touch your knee with the opposite elbow. Then reach with your arm as far forward as you can while kicking back as far as you can. Lift your leg higher than your butt. Eyes follow your moving hand. Repeat by touching elbows and knees.


b. Inchworm

It stretches your hamstrings and lower back as well as lets you use the front muscles of your torso. Do not try if your back is aching! And if you tried it and cannot maintain the position then try a less strenuous movement like the dog – bird (or bird – dog, or call it as you like).


Walk your feet as close to your hands as possible without bending your knees. You will feel a stretching sensation on your hamstrings and your calves.


Once your feet are as close as they can get to your hands, walk your hands as far away from your feet as possible while maintaining a stable torso.

For dog-bird do 30 to 40 repetitions  (15 to 20 per side) for 2 to 3 sets. For inchworm, do 5 to 8 meters for 1 to 2 sets initially then increase as you get stronger.

Remember, if you have a condition that can be made worst by a physical activity, it is best that you discuss with your doctor if you plan to start becoming more active. If you are cleared to participate in regular physical activities, start gradually and pick the exercises that you can do safely. And do the exercises with sufficient intensity and duration so they can work. The exercises shown above are suggestions and they may work well as long as they are done properly for those who are able to do them safely.

Try which position or variation provides you with some relief and try these exercises for one to two weeks to be able to observe if they work for you. But, if you feel something is wrong, or something hurts while doing the exercises, stop doing them and better consult a physician.