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Sciatica: Alleviate pain through therapeutic Massage 

Sometimes we experience buttocks pain, down to our legs that are interfering with our daily activities. What causes this pain? What are the symptoms? How do we reduce the pain? There are many causes for buttocks pain down to the legs, but one that stands out is Sciatica. This condition can be relieved with a therapeutic massage. Read on how this works!

Table of Contents:

  • What is Sciatica?
  • What triggers sciatic pain?
  • What are the symptoms of sciatica?
  • What are the benefits of Therapeutic Massage for sciatica?
  • What’s the best type of massage for sciatica?
  • What to expect?
  • What can you do in between sessions?
  • Nerve Flossing Exercises for Sciatica

Without further ado let's start defining what sciatica is.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is nerve pain from an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve, which originates in your buttock/gluteal area. The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest (almost finger-width) nerve in the body. It’s actually made up of five nerve roots: two from the lower back region called the lumbar spine and three from the final section of the spine called the sacrum. The five nerve roots come together to form a right and left sciatic nerve. On each side of your body, one sciatic nerve runs through your hips, buttocks and down a leg, ending just below the knee. The sciatic nerve then branches into other nerves, which continue down your leg and into your foot and toes.

True injury to the sciatic nerve “sciatica” is actually rare, but the term “sciatica” is commonly used to describe any pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down the leg. What this pain shares in common is an injury to a nerve, an irritation, inflammation, pinching, or compression of a nerve in your lower back.

If you have “sciatica," you experience mild to severe pain anywhere along the path of the sciatic nerve – that is, anywhere from the lower back, through the hips, buttocks, and/or down your legs. It can also cause muscle weakness in your leg and foot, numbness in your leg, and an unpleasant tingling pins-and-needles sensation in your leg, foot, and toes.

People describe sciatica pain in different ways, depending on its cause. Some people describe the pain as sharp, shooting, or jolts of pain. Others describe this pain as “burning,” "electric” or “stabbing.”

The pain may be constant or may come and go. Also, the pain is usually more severe in your leg compared to your lower back. The pain may feel worse if you sit or stand for long periods of time and when you twist your upper body. A forced and sudden body movement, like a cough or sneeze, can also make the pain worse.

What triggers sciatic pain?

The hip is a complex joint and there are several reasons why it can cause pain. (lower back injury, core/hip flexor tightness, or improper aiming of your muscles).

  • Trauma injury to the lumbar spine or sciatic nerve.
  • Tumors in the lumbar spinal canal compressing the sciatic nerve.
  • Piriformis syndrome is a condition that develops when the piriformis muscle, a small muscle that lies deep in the buttocks, becomes tight or spasms. This can put pressure on and irritate the sciatic nerve. Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder.
  • Cauda equina syndrome is a rare but serious condition that affects the bundle of nerves at the end of the spinal cord called the cauda equina. This syndrome causes pain down the leg, numbness around the anus, and loss of bowel and bladder control.

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

The symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Moderate to severe pain in the lower back, buttock, and down your leg.
  • Numbness or weakness in your lower back, buttock, leg, or feet.
  • Pain that worsens with movement, loss of movement.
  • “Pins and needles” feeling in your legs, toes, or feet.
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control (due to cauda equina).

You are at greater risk of sciatica if you:

  • Have an injury/previous injury: An injury to your lower back or spine puts you at greater risk for sciatica.
  • Live life: With normal aging comes a natural wearing down of bone tissue and disks in your spine. Normal aging can put your nerves at risk of being injured or pinched by the changes and shifts in bone, disks, and ligaments.
  • Are overweight: Your spine is like a vertical crane. Your muscles are the counterweights. The weight you carry in the front of your body is what your spine (crane) has to lift. The more weight you have, the more your back muscles (counterweights) have to work. This can lead to back strains, pains, and other back issues.
  • Lack a strong core: Your “core” is the muscles of your back and abdomen. The stronger your core, the more support you’ll have for your lower back. Unlike your chest area, where your rib cage provides support, the only support for your lower back is your muscles.
  • Have an active, physical job: Jobs that require heavy lifting may increase your risk of low back problems and use of your back, or jobs with prolonged sitting may increase your risk of low back problems.
  • Lack of proper posture in the weight room: Even if you are physically fit and active, you can still be prone to sciatica if you don’t follow proper body form during weightlifting or other strength training exercises.
  • Have diabetes: Diabetes increases your chance of nerve damage, which increases your chance of sciatica.
  • Have osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis can cause damage to your spine and put nerves at risk of injury.
  • Lead an inactive lifestyle: Sitting for a long period of time and not exercising and not keeping your muscles moving, flexible, and toned can increase your risk of sciatica.
  • Smoke: The nicotine in tobacco can damage spinal tissue, weaken bones, and speed the wearing down of vertebral disks.

What are the benefits of Therapeutic Massage for sciatica?

When you are suffering from sciatica, a massage can provide relief. The main benefit is to soothe tense muscles and reduce pressure on nerves including the one that runs through your spine all of its length-which could cause immense pain in some cases! Soft tissue massages also stimulate the release of endorphins which make people happy because they boost pleasure levels as well relieve discomfort caused by chronic ailments such as these back problems or headaches among others.

What’s the best type of massage for sciatica?

Deep tissue massage

A deep tissue massage is an aggressive form of massage that uses slow strokes and deep finger pressure to release tension from your muscles and connective tissues. A 30-minute session of deep tissue massage five days a week over two weeks was found to effectively treat low back pain, including sciatica.

Swedish massage

Swedish massage doesn’t use as much pressure as deep tissue massage. Instead, flowing, kneading movements are used to stimulate nerve endings in your connective tissue and increase blood flow. It also helps to release general tension and promote relaxation.

Neuromuscular massage

Neuromuscular massage uses advanced massage techniques that combine deep tissue pressure and friction to release contracted muscles and relieve tension.

Myofascial release

Myofascial release is a technique used to relieve pain that stems from your myofascial tissues the tough membrane that surrounds and supports your muscles.

Trigger points, which are stiff, immovable areas within the myofascial tissues, cause pain and stiffness. Focused pressure and stretching on the trigger points help to reduce pain and stiffness.

Hot stone massage

A hot stone massage is used to promote relaxation and ease tense muscles. Heated stones are placed on specific parts of your body and may be held by the massage therapist while they use Swedish massage techniques.

What to expect?

When sciatica symptoms flare up, it's important to know that they can be resolved with a massage. A Massage Therapist will work on the midsection of your body addressing a range of motion and muscle tension in addition to nerve pattern (dermatome).

The outcome depends greatly upon an individual’s activity level; how often you sit or stand during working hours; strength/balance skills which are influenced by both physical capabilities as well dietary habits. Some people experience significant relief after two sessions while others might need couple of months before noticing any changes.

What can you do in between sessions?

  • Hip/low back stretches
  • Mobility ball/foam roll
  • Take water breaks/stand when sitting all-day
  • Wear shoes with good arch support
  • Lay with a pillow under hips if belly sleeper
  • Lay with a pillow between knees for side sleeper

Track changes in pain patterns and when the pain comes, The Hip flexor and Groin stretches will help you recover faster from a sports injury. The Glut Stretch can be especially painful, but it's an important part of the recovery process because when our body is in pain, that means there are muscles being repaired or replaced!

Nerve Flossing Exercises for Sciatica

Nerve flossing involves performing various gentle exercises used to mobilize and stretch the nerves to reduce irritation and improve your range of motion, especially in the hips. Nerve flossing may also be called neural gliding, nerve gliding, or nerve mobilization. The exercises can be done easily at home as you don’t need any equipment and the instructions are simple.

Nerve flossing is most effective when used in combination with other treatments, such as physical therapy and medications. Be sure to contact your doctor if you have not yet received a diagnosis, because the cause of sciatica greatly helps to determine treatment.

Mobilizing floss

  1. Lie on the floor with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart. You may use a flat pillow for your head if you wish.
  2. Tuck your chin in and be sure to keep your upper body relaxed the entire time.
  3. Pull your left leg in towards your chest.
  4. Keep holding behind your left knee and slowly straighten your leg until you feel a comfortable stretch. (Alternate option: Try lifting both knees and holding them in toward the chest.)
  5. Slowly return your knee to the starting position.
  6. Remember to slowly breathe deeply and try not to press your lower back into the floor.
  7. Lower your leg back towards the chest then lower it back to the starting position on the floor.
  8. Repeat with your right leg.
  9. Complete five repetitions on each leg.

Seated sciatic nerve floss

  1. Sitting upright in a chair, knees hip-width apart, place your feet flat on the floor and face forward.
  2. Extend your right leg and flex your foot toward the body.
  3. Extend your head up and back so that you are looking at the ceiling.
  4. Now gently lower both your head and leg down, tucking your chin into your chest while bending your leg slightly backwards past 90 degrees.
  5. Extend and lower your head at the same time as extending and lowering your leg.
  6. Perform 10 repetitions then switch to your left leg for 10 repetitions.
  7. Switch legs and repeat exercise 10 times for the left leg.
  8. Repeat this exercise on both legs 2–3 times every day.

Hamstring floss

  1. Stand up straight, raise your left leg onto a step or other stable surface while keeping it straight and toes pointed up. (Alternate option: Holding onto a wall or other stable surface, raise your left leg and hold it in the air instead of resting it on a surface. You may want to try this version after building some strength.)
  2. While keeping your back straight, tilt your head and neck forward until you feel a little pull in your back (some people don’t feel a pull, and that’s okay).
  3. From here, point your toe and bring your chin to your chest, then flex your foot and return your head to the ground. Repeat these actions five times
  4. Return to your starting position.
  5. Do the same with your other leg.
  6. Repeat three more times, alternating between your left and right leg.

Wrap Up

Therapeutic Massage is a truly effective way of relieving Sciatica. There are different types of massages you can choose from, and by following these exercises it will help in your recovery process so don't hesitate to heal yourself with us! We always want what's best for our clients so book an appointment today.

Our goal isn’t just about pain relief; we aim at total wellness through therapeutic touch.