Blog Post

Stretching and Sciatica: Is it Helping or Hindering?

Sciatica and even post-workout discomfort can lead to a range of painful symptoms, including tension and pain in the buttock, thigh, and leg. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you might feel an immediate urge to stretch it out, but is this helping or hindering your situation?

Stretching: A Common Misconception

Many of us believe in the notion that stretching is a universal remedy for pain and tension. However, this is a widespread misconception. While gentle stretching can help to some extent, aggressive or excessive stretching may end up worsening your condition rather than improving it.[1]

The Consequences of Overstretching

Why can too much stretching backfire? When you stretch your muscles, you’re not just affecting the muscles themselves. You’re also stretching potentially irritated nerves, tendons, and other structures that may already be stirred up due to conditions like sciatica, tendinopathy, bursitis and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

This can lead to a situation where the stretching feels good in the moment, almost like scratching an itch that’s been bothering you. However, much like how scratching can make an itchy rash worse, overstretching can increase discomfort after the immediate relief fades.

The Vicious Cycle of Overstretching

If you’ve fallen into the habit of stretching to relieve discomfort, you may find yourself in a vicious cycle. The momentary relief leads to more pain, which then prompts more stretching. This cycle continues, potentially worsening the initial irritation and delaying your recovery. It’s crucial to resist the urge to stretch too hard or too long to break free from this.

Individualised Treatment: Key to Recovery

Every person’s injury and discomfort are unique. Your pain might not respond to the same treatment that worked for someone else, and vice versa. Therefore, it’s vital to seek personalised attention from professionals.

At Adam Physiotherapy Cairns, we take the time to understand your injury and pain on a deeper level. Every patient’s journey is different, and we believe assessing the broader context and factors that can play a role in your recovery is essential.

We want to see you feeling and moving better, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

[1] (PDF) A Critical Analysis of the Side Effects of Over Stretching (

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