Hamstring pain can make every day tasks like sitting, running, walking, or lifting painful and difficult. Last week we discussed hamstring pain that is coming from the low back. We also discussed a couple exercises to resolve it. This week we’re going to discuss the third origin of hamstring pain: sciatic nerve irritation.
The sciatic nerve provides sensation to the back of the thigh and the calf. As we discussed last week, the nerve can sometimes be irritated by compression in the low back. However the nerve can also be irritated anywhere along its course as it travels down the back of the thigh. When this happens, there is usually pain down the back of the thigh in the hamstring and sometimes into the calf. It can cause recurrent cramping in the hamstring with running and walking and sometimes with sitting. Fortunately, there are some easy things you can do at home to resolve this. Here are 2 things you can do to start:
Sciatic Nerve Glides
Sciatic nerve glides work by making the nerve move back and forth through the the muscles of the thigh, calf and low back. You might feel some pressure or tightness in your hamstring, calf, or low back while you do this. Don’t push through any sharp pain. This should be a fairly comfortable position. Hold for only 1 second or so at each end position. It’s the movement that is beneficial here, not a sustained stretch. Do this 3 times a day, 3 sets of 10 repetitions each time.
Hamstring foam rolling
Hamstring foam rolling helps to relax the muscles around the sciatic nerve. When the sciatic nerve gets irritated, the hamstring often tightens up around it. Foam rolling the hamstring helps to loosen this muscle without irritating the nerve more by putting it on stretch. Roll over the most tender parts of your hamstring for 2-3 minutes at a time. It shoulder be sore, but don’t put so much pressure through that it causes intense pain. Do this 2 times a day.
When done correctly, both of the above exercises can help to resolve hamstring pain from the sciatic nerve. They should not make your hamstring pain worse. If you’ve tried these and you’re not sure if your doing them correctly or your still hurting, let us help you! At Solutions Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, we’re experts at treating hamstring pain. We can clarify why you’re hurting and help you overcome your injury.
Helping you live your best life,
The Solutions Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Team