The figure four and pigeon stretch are two exercises that improve sciatica, according to Healthline. These exercises externally rotate the hip to prevent a herniated or bulging disc in the spine that causes nerve pressure.
The figure four stretch is a simple stretch that involves lying flat on a surface and then bending into a figure four, explains Healthline. The proper procedure for this exercise is to lie on the back, bring the right leg up to a right angle, and then grasp the leg with both hands behind the thigh while locking the fingers. The ankle of the left leg is then placed against the knee to stretch the piriformis, which prevents inflammation that presses against the sciatic nerve. The process is then repeated by switching sides and alternating legs.
The pigeon stretch is a yoga pose that opens the hips, states Healthline. The proper procedure for the pigeon stretch is to kneel on all fours, extend the left leg behind the body with toes pointing down, and then shift body weight from the arms to the back. This motion should be performed while exhaling, and the upper body should not be arched at a right angle to avoid back strain. The pigeon stretch can also be performed by sitting on the floor with the legs stretched outward before bending the legs to place an ankle on top of the knee. The final step involves leaning forward and resting the upper body on the thigh for 15 to 30 seconds.