Many people experience sciatica at some point in their lives. The painful condition can be caused by a number of things, including bad posture, obesity, high heels, ill-fitting clothes and spending a lot of time sitting. While the standard treatment will send you to the physical therapist, lots of people find that massage can provide pain relief and loosen tight muscles. However, seeing a massage therapist regularly isn’t realistic for everyone, so here’s a helpful guide on how to use Theragun for sciatica relief.
What Is Sciatica?
First, it’s helpful to understand exactly what sciatica is, because it’s often a misdiagnosis for muscle spasms, or it can be the result of another issue in your body.
Sciatica is a pain that occurs along the sciatic nerve and radiates from the lower back down through the hips and glutes and into the leg, typically along one side of the body. It can be caused by an inactive lifestyle, improper shoes and clothing, and medical conditions, such as a herniated disk, bone spur, narrowing of the spine or chronic muscle contraction.
In fact, sciatica usually is the result of another condition and can present as inflammation, pain and numbness. The pain itself can range from mild to extreme and debilitating.
The sciatic nerve plays a crucial part in the peripheral nervous system, which is what connects the muscles and skin of the leg and foot to the spinal cord – the central nervous system.
It begins with the joining of five nerve roots in the lower spine and travels down through the buttock, deep in the musculature, along the thigh and down to the heel and sole of the foot.
Conditions like sciatica can cause debilitating pain or discomfort. Non-surgical treatments of physiotherapy and over-the-counter pain medications are the preferred method of treatment and work in the majority of cases. In more rare cases, when other non-invasive treatment plans fail, surgery may be required. This is the case for less than 10% of people.
While physical therapy is the most prescribed treatment, people have found other treatments like acupuncture, massage therapy, biofeedback and yoga to be helpful as well.
Is Vibration Massage Good for Sciatica?
The short answer is no: vibration massage is not good for sciatica. But percussion massage can be. Many people claim to have experienced considerable improvement in their sciatica using percussion massagers.
It’s important to understand that there is a distinguishable difference between percussion and vibration massage.
Vibration massagers don’t achieve the same results as percussion massagers for conditions like sciatica, as their application is more shallow and does not leave the surface of the skin. As a result, their application over-stimulates the nerves in the area, which then are simply disarmed. This does nothing to improve the conditions in the afflicted area.
On the other hand, a percussion massager can help sciatica by increasing blood flow and range of motion, releasing the tension and telling the brain to release endorphins that reduce pain perception. We particularly like the Theragun for sciatic treatment because of the engineering that goes into the gun, but the handle also makes it easy to reach your lower back.
Can You Use a Theragun on Your Back?
Yes! And it’s quite possibly the best massage gun out there for doing so yourself.
One of the biggest advantages that Theragun has over its competitors is its patented triangle handle that allows users to hold the gun in a number of ways, both reducing strain on hands, wrists and arms, while also making it possible to properly get to those hard-to-reach spots without the help of another person.
The hardest place of all, of course, is your back and that’s where a lot of us experience regular tension, discomfort and pain. In the case of sciatic pain, you’re going to be feeling it in your lower back, so it’s more a matter of understanding what you’re trying to achieve and how, rather than if the gun can reach.
Where Do You Put Theragun for Sciatica?
For a sciatica massage, you should focus your Theragun on your lower back, hamstring, glute and calf.
You need to focus on stretching and conditioning the tissue around the impingement. Massaging the muscles around can help release tension and increase blood flow, helping to reduce the pressure on the nerve.
Keep in mind when working on your glutes that there’s a muscle called the piriformis located in the buttocks that helps to keep your hips balanced and the entire lower body in alignment. Avoid putting direct pressure on the piriformis with the gun, as it’s a very sensitive muscle and will trigger the sciatic nerve, leaving you hurting for hours.
How to Use Theragun for Sciatica
Massaging the lower back is a good place to start. Remember, there are buried muscles along the spine that you can reach by adjusting your position – stretching (extension) or bending (flexion) can get you better access. Once you’ve finished with your back, continue down to your glutes and then to your legs.
You should use your Theragun no more than 2 minutes per muscle group in order to maximize benefits and minimize the potential for injury.
Using your Theragun, follow these steps:
- First, pick your attachment, figure out which grip works best for you and power on the device. Theragun’s base grip and reverse grip are great for reaching your back.
- Place your Theragun on your lower back, finding a tight spot.
- Start massaging at the muscle’s point of origin (where the muscle begins, closest to the torso) for 10 seconds, moving across the muscle fibers.
- Repeat at the muscle insertion (the other end of the muscle, farthest from the torso), again for 10 seconds across the muscle fibers.
- Finally, move the massage gun back and forth along the muscle for 10 seconds.
Sciatica can distract you from daily life, it can serve as a reminder that maybe you’re not exercising enough, and of course, it can be pretty painful.
But, in most cases, it isn’t chronic, and with the proper care, you’ll be feeling good in no time. Stretch, hydrate and massage away tension with this handy little guide that teaches you how to use Theragun for sciatica. Your muscles, and your sciatic nerve, will thank you!