Pilates Exercise of the Month: Sciatic Stretch

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Image of Exercise


To stretch the sciatic nerve

Starting Position

Lie supine on the floor with both knees bent.  Bend the right knee in towards the chest and place a stretch band behind the foot.  The band is held in the opposite hand to the foot (i.e. left hand).  Extend the right leg away from the body until the leg is as straight as possible.  Bring the leg towards the chest (hamstring stretch) as far as a neutral pelvis allows


Inhale - to prepare

Exhale - Guide the right leg across the body towards the left side, using the band to pull it gently over to the opposite side.  Simultaneously bring the left bent knee also towards the opposite right side, ensuring that the foot stays on the floor.  Effectively the legs criss cross eah other.

There are 2 actions for the straight leg here: the leg comes towards the chest: the leg comes across the body.  Use the right hand to press down on the right hip so that it does not lift away from the floor as the leg comes across the body.

Target Muscles

Sciatic nerve, hamstrings


  • Ensure that the hip and buttock of the straight leg stays on the floor to prevent them from lifting
  • Keep the waist long and equal on both sides to avoid hip hitching
  • Keep the foot flexed to ensure a nerve stretch
  • The knee must be as straight as possible to gain maximum benefit from the stretch
  • A nerve stretch can often be unpleasant so be careful not to go too far and overstretch
  • Ensure the spine stays in neutral with the head on the floor
  • Keep the neck long

Contra Indictions

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