There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.

This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

See the Veritas Health sites:,,, for medical articles and videos.

The Hamstring Stretch is Giving Me Sciatica. What's Going On?


Several years ago I suffered a herniated disk. It was at L5 S1 on the right side. it was a moderately sized bulge but the placement was very bad and was pressing on my nerve giving me sciatica down my right leg. I mostly recovered without surgery and the sciatica went away. I had another MRI later and it show that the bulge had gone away.

I recently saw a physical therapist for my back. I just wanted to see them for a check up. They gave me some stabilization exercises and some stretches. Overall my experience was good. However, they saw that my hamstring flexibility was extremely poor around 80 degrees. They recommended I stretch my hamstrings to a healthy 40 degrees and they gave me a stretch where I place my leg on a wall and gently straighten it to stretch. 

I was highly motivated to get to 40 degrees and stretched everyday twice. After about a month I started experiencing sciatica down my entire right leg from stretching. I stopped and the sciatica went away after a week or so. I also lost all the flexibility I had gained after a month of stretching.

Does anyone know why stretching is causing me sciatica? To me this seems like a real mystery to me because stretching alone does not directly to anything to my back or the disk which is what causes sciatica.

Secondly, can anyone recommend a way that I can get my hamstrings to 40 degrees without causing sciatica?



  • dilauroddilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,072

    There are a number of different stretches that physical therapists may use to help someone with extreme hamstring tightness.

    I am sure it is possible that some of those can cause irritation.  I would make a contact with a spinal specialist to see if additional diagnostic testing may be warranted.  I have heard of minor disc bulging healing, but not to the point that it was gone after via a mri.

  • Oh, okay. So you are saying that I likely still have the bulge and that is whats giving me sciatica when I stretch? Right now I am just trying to solve the mystery. I have spoken to both my physical therapist and my GP and I can't get a direct answer on this. 

  • advertisement
  • I'm new to sciatica - 7 weeks now since it started - and on my second PT session 3 weeks ago the therapist had me do some very light hamstring stretches.  It triggered a 3 hour sciatic episode where the pain had been subsiding to that point.

    However, I've since stopped doing the hamstring stretch and the sciatic pain has recurred pretty severely in the last week nonetheless.  So it remains a mystery.  I don't mind pain while exercising (I was a serious competitive cyclist until this happened) but I'm not sure whether PT should hurt or not in the case of nerve pain.  I'm sure this isn't helpful at all, but rest assured that others are struggling with the same mystery.  

  • challengercchallenger Posts: 1,236
    edited 07/11/2019 - 11:04 AM
Sign In or Join Us to comment.