To treat pain related to sciatica, the National Health Service recommends performing exercises to lengthen the hamstrings and strengthen the lower back. A patient can lie on his back on a plush mat and engage in movements such as lifting each leg straight into the air or pulling a bent knee to the chest with the other knee in a bent position. It is important to also support the head.
A patient can also lie face-down on his mat and bend his lower back into a concave arch to stretch the spine backward. The National Health Service recommends stretching the hamstring muscles while standing upright by placing one heel at a time onto a stepping block or short table and leaning forward to elongate the muscles in the back of the leg. Most of these exercises can be performed for a period of 20 to 30 seconds and should be repeated a few times each day to see benefits.
The National Health Service advises sciatica patients to consult with a doctor before engaging in any of these exercises. None of the aforementioned stretches are expected to cause pain, and if they do, it is important to stop immediately and contact a doctor in order to avoid injury.