A nice massage can make anyone relax even if for a few minutes, but can be especially useful for those who have sciatica. In this article, we will address what exactly sciatica is, why it hurts, and how massaging can help make it feel better.
What is sciatica nerve pain?
The term sciatica actually in reference to the nerve that is experiencing the pain: the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and is composed of five nerve roots that come from the spine. When the sciatic nerve is compressed or inflamed, it can create pain and numbness that starts in the lower back, travels within the buttock, and down the leg to your foot. While it often impacts one of the legs, it rarely affects both. Massage therapy is a helpful way to relieve sciatica pain regardless of which form you have.
Why does my sciatica hurt?
Sciatica can hurt because it is the result of other medical conditions. This can include a herniated lumbar disk, lumbar spinal stenosis, muscle spasms, and more. As mentioned previously, the pain from sciatica is because the sciatic nerve is experiencing pressure or is inflamed.
Sciatica related discomfort can feel like:
- a shot of pain
- a throbbing pain
- a constant dull ache
- discomfort that comes and goes
In addition to pain or numbness, over time sciatica can cause muscle weakness in the leg, foot, and thigh. It can also cause paresthesia which is an abnormal feeling on the skin.
It is best to see a doctor immediately if there is:
- a sudden increase in pain
- the pain is severe
- there is a lack of bladder control
- is accompanied by fever, nausea, or weight loss
What are common sciatica trigger points?
If you are experiencing pain from sciatica, you will feel it mostly in your lower back, through your buttocks, down your leg, and into your foot. Sciatica can be triggered by different actions or causes including:
- Wearing high heels or wearing shoes that are not well-cushioned
- Having your wallet, keys, phone, or other items in your back pocket as you sit for a while
- Tight-fitting or ill-fitting clothing
- Excess weight
Some follow up questions, answered.
Now that you know what sciatica is, you might be wondering how you or your loved one can treat it. There are many options due to there being many different types of sciatica. Each person and their experience might be different. However, there is always hope of relieving it of pain and below are some ways as to how to do so.
How can I treat sciatic pain with massage therapy?
There are a variety of ways to treat sciatica. There are both nonsurgical and surgical options. Often the first option is trying to heal it with nonsurgical options. This can include physical therapy, medications, chiropractic therapy, massage therapy, injections, and more. Sciatica can last between four to six weeks if it is a minor condition using nonsurgical options.
However if it lasts for longer than eight weeks and is considered chronic, you may have to consider surgical options. Surgery can also be considered for cauda equina syndrome, sciatica that occurs in both legs, tumors, and infection in the pelvic region.
Where should I massage the sciatic nerves and their surrounding areas?
If you would like to do a massage yourself instead of going into a deep tissue massage at your local spa, you can do so. The best places to massage include where you can feel a tightness in your muscles or even knots. Often time you can tell where you are tight by pressing down on your muscles. These areas will probably be your legs and lower back, but don’t forget your upper back, shoulders, and even chest that might be working hard to compensate for your lower back’s pain.
When massaging an area – especially when it is tender – it is important to massage gently and stop when it begins to become painful. A massage is to help relax your muscles, not make them tighter.
How should I massage the trigger points and their surrounding areas?
It is best to be gentle while massaging while still applying pressure. To help, you may want to use a massage oil depending on the location so you are not pulling your skin as you massage.
- For your lower back, grab a foam roller. These handy tools can add deep pressure to your muscles. Simply lay it on the ground and place it under your back right below your shoulder blades. With your legs bent out in front of you at a hips distance, you can roll back and forth to help massage your back’s pressure points.
- Don’t forget your buttocks! You can also use your foam roller for this as well. Simply sit on top of the foam roller like you would a bench and roll it back and forth. You can also turn your body onto your left and right sides to massage your hip areas and the sides of your butt.
- If you are massaging your legs, you can apply a stroking motion up and down your leg. You can also perform a chopping motion which is lightly hitting your leg with your fist or using the pinky-side of your hand. Lastly, you can apply a squeezing or kneading motion to your leg muscles. All of these options can help circulate blood flow.
- Want to massage your feet? There are a number of ways you can do so. One includes rubbing the inside of your foot – also known as your arch – that can help with lower back pain. Also grab a ball like a tennis ball and rub the bottom of your foot with it against the ground.
What kind of massagers can help?
You may have seen on social media or even at the local big box store that massage guns have become very popular recently and with good reason. Massage guns can help reach deep tissue you might not be able to massage using just your hands alone. In addition, while foam roller can really help add a level of pressure, massage guns can really focus on a specific area. Here are some massage guns we recommend:
- The VYBE Percussion Massage Gun V2 is a powerful massage gun that features six speeds and three interchangeable precision attachments. It has a very high strength which is great for reaching deep areas of pain like in your buttocks. It’s 90 degree rotation helps to reach areas on your own body that can be difficult to reach.
- The VYBE Percussion Massage Gun Pro Model is the massage gun you want that still is precise but is gentler than the V2. With nine speeds and eight attachments, you can customize this massage gun to suit your needs. For example, the knot blaster is great for tense muscles and cramps in the soles of your feet.
- The HEHX Percussion Massage Gun is perfect for those who might be sensitive to differentiating power speeds like an older individual. With twenty speeds, you can increase the massage gun’s power as slowly as you need.
If you experience sciatica pain, know that you are not alone in your recovery journey. There are plenty of options available to find help whether that be through therapy, surgery, or performing your own massage on a daily basis. With knowing your options you will be able to help your sciatica and live your life more comfortably.