Sciatic Nerve Massage - Techniques and Excersises for Pain Relief
Have you ever had to suffer from sciatica pain in your life? Sciatica may sound like the nice neighbor next door, but appearances are deceiving. As soon as it has settled in, it makes your everyday life more difficult. It can put you out of action for days and sometimes weeks. Sciatica pain is usually a sharp pain that spreads from the lower back, through the buttocks, down the legs and sometimes even to the toes.
This pain is usually caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the lumbar spine to the feet.
Why is the sciatic nerve so important for your body?
On the one hand, it has the important task of transmitting instructions from the brain to your legs via the spinal cord. On the other hand, it transmits signals to the spinal cord via your legs. In simpler terms, the sciatic nerve enables sensations in your legs. The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the human body. It originates at the spinal cord and extends across the buttocks and down the legs to the feet.
Particularly sensitive to sciatica pain are people who already have to deal with pain in the lumbar spine area more often (medical term: “lumbalgia”). Lumbar spine is the term used to describe the area of the lower back.
According to Marion Grillparzer’s book Unser Rückenbuch: 4 Experten, 4 Fachgebiete, about 60-90% of adults are affected by lumbalgia at least once in their lives.
The difference between lumbago and sciatica pain
While lumbago is accompanied by sudden, severe, often unilateral pain in the lumbar region and irritation of the spinal nerves, the term “sciatica” is used when there is inflammation of the sciatic nerve. This is often caused by irritation by one of the 31 spinal nerves (also spinal cord nerves), which are responsible, among other things, for the co-supply of the leg and buttock region.
But do not worry. If sciatica has caught you, you don’t have to hang your head right away.
However, this requires that you actively participate in the improvement of your sciatic pain. What you should pay attention to and how you can contribute to a quick recovery, you will learn from our tips.
But first: In order to recognize sciatica at an early stage, you will now learn about possible causes and symptoms of sciatica pain. This is the only way you can effectively treat it and prevent pain in the future.
Possible causes of sciatica pain
Sciatica is usually not considered a disease in its own right, but rather a concomitant condition that can be associated with a variety of causes.
These causes primarily include:
- Abrupt and unusual movements (for example, incorrect bending, lifting), which can lead not only to lumbago, but also to sciatica pain.
- A herniated disc (prolapse) or a bulging disc (protrusion), both of which in turn are usually caused by incorrect strain or lack of movement. In this case, the intervertebral discs, which are normally located between the individual vertebrae, shift. When they shift, they press on the spinal nerves of the spinal cord, which can cause pain to radiate down your leg to your toes, depending on the intensity of the pressure.
- A degenerative narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis), which squeezes the sciatic nerve or spinal nerves. The most common cause is excessive muscle tension in the lumbar spine.
- Arthritic diseases of the vertebral joints (spondylarthrosis), which are triggered by degenerative wear processes of the intervertebral disc – mostly due to too high tension structures.
- Vertebral slippage (spondyolisthesis), in which individual vertebrae can shift against each other and pinch nerve roots. This is favored by unfavorable postures, such as sitting for long periods in a bent-over position or frequent overstretching of the spine.
- Pregnancy, in which there is a shift in the center of gravity of the body. This places additional stress on the gluteal muscles, which can trigger sciatica pain. In addition, the weight of the child presses into the pelvis and causes irritation of the sciatic nerve
- In rare cases also a spinal tumor, which presses on the spinal nerves and causes sciatic pain
- The sciatic nerve passes close to or even sometimes through the piriformis muscle. Because of all the sitting, this is usually very tense (piriformis syndrome), which can irritate the sciatic nerve.
There could also be other causes behind sciatica pain, which is why early diagnosis by a doctor is very important.
Typical sciatica symptoms
How do you recognize sciatica? Sciatica pain can vary greatly in severity and is noticeable in a number of ways.
- Tearing back pain that radiates from the lower back (lumbar region) into the buttocks and lower legs. The pain increases especially when you sit down, bend over, sneeze or cough.
- Additional paralysis, numbness, tingling or burning sensations occur in affected areas
- Your mobility is severely limited and you are less able to cope with physical strain
- Your pain is accompanied by severe muscle tension
- You have to struggle with persistent pain in one half of your buttocks
- As soon as you stretch your leg or lift your foot, the pain worsens
To relieve your pain, adopt the following protective posture: The painful leg is bent and slightly tilted outward while you hold your upper body at an angle.
Now I have plagued you with enough theory for the time being. So now I’m going straight into the practical part, where you’ll learn how to treat your sciatica pain and help it heal faster.
Important: Before you start with the exercises, be sure to check with your doctor whether they are suitable for you.
Three sciatic nerve massage points
Are you longing for a massage? Then I have good news for you: because a massage not only helps muscle relaxation in your back, but can also relax muscles that are directly related to your sciatic pain.
Massage will help your circulation, which in turn will speed up healing. However, you should only let yourself be massaged by expert hands or use a massage gun recommended by health experts.
So how to massage sciatic nerve? Massaging three different parts of the body is helpful in relieving or preventing sciatica. These massage points can be used as part of a new technique that uses the deep massage machine.
The deep massager is a device that vibrates at a high frequency and low amplitude of motion to stimulate muscles and help them perform more efficiently. Studies have shown that treating muscles helps them recover faster and perform better overall. The vibration technology achieves this by increasing blood flow to targeted areas.
Position the massage gun on the upper back and move it around the affected area for a maximum of 30 seconds.
Move the massage gun at a medium speed along the entire length of the gluteal muscles for a maximum of 30 seconds.
Position the massage gun along the IT band muscles and move the device slowly for a maximum of 30 seconds
What sciatica massage exercises are useful?
Usually the pain disappears completely, at the earliest after a few days, at the latest after a few weeks. After the pain phase is overcome, active prevention is important to reduce the risk of relapse. It is recommended to go to “back school”. Under physiotherapeutic guidance, one learns to strain one’s back as gently as possible when lifting objects and to avoid incorrect postures when sitting. At the same time, it is important to build up the trunk muscles in a targeted manner.
With this exercise, you can massage tense muscle areas in the buttocks themselves.
- Lie on the floor in the supine position.
- Place the ball (for example, tennis or fascia ball) on the upper half of the buttocks.
- Shift some weight onto the ball and slowly roll it over the buttocks.
- Massage each painful point with small rolling movements.
- Be careful with too much pressure
It is possible to hit the sciatic nerve here as well. A little pressure will not harm the nerve, but if the sciatic nerve is exposed to pressure for a long time or too much pressure, on the other hand, it will irritate the sciatic nerve even more.
Therefore, pay attention to these points when massaging:
- Pain should remain within a tolerable range.
- Stop the massage in case of strong, stabbing pain.
In the beginning, massage only briefly and with little pressure. After some time, you will develop a feeling for how much pressure is good for you.
This exercise stretches the muscle group that is often tight in connection with sciatic pain: the gluteal muscles.
- Hold position for the duration of 20 breaths and ideally perform 2-3 times per side.
- Bend the right leg in a supine position.
- Place the left leg bent on the right knee. The left ankle is right next to the right knee.
- If you feel a stretch already in this position, stay here.
- To increase the stretch, reach around the right thigh with both hands and pull toward the chest.
To further increase the intensity of the stretch, press lightly against the right knee with the right hand.
Besides sciatica or nerve pain, there are various types of muscle pain that can hit you. Studies have shown that deep massage therapy, when performed repeatedly, relieves muscle pain and accelerates regeneration. Such treatments improve blood flow to the painful area and this reduces the accumulation of lactic acid or speeds up the repair of micro-injuries in the muscle and connective tissues.
The use of the deep massager and self-massage help in the treatment of the upper and lower extremities in muscoskeletal dysfunctions. It is recommended to perform the treatment using a massage gun for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time, avoiding bony areas. Furthermore, a minimum age of 8 years is recommended. In addition, the treatment should not be performed on open wounds, the head or metallic implants.