What is sciatica?
Sciatica is the term used to refer to pain along the sciatic nerve, which extends from your lower back, through your hips and buttocks, and down each leg.
Sciatica typically affects only one side of your body and can range in severity from mild to severe. It’s often accompanied by other symptoms, including numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected leg and foot.
Sciatica can interfere with your daily activities and make standing, walking, and even sitting difficult. If you’d like to try an alternative to traditional painkillers, massage may be able to help. It won’t treat the underlying cause of your sciatica, but it may provide some temporary relief from pain.
What are the benefits of massage for sciatica?
Massage therapy is an effective way to relieve pain. A 2014 study even found that massage may be as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for relieving low back pain, which can be a symptom of sciatica.
When it comes to sciatica, massage can help in two ways. Massage’s main benefit is soothing tense muscles. When your muscles are tense, they can put more pressure on your nerves, including your sciatic nerve. Massaging these tense muscles may help to reduce pressure on your sciatic nerve.
Soft tissue massage may also help to increase your pain threshold by stimulating the release of endorphins. Endorphins boost pleasure and relieve pain, causing an increased feeling of well-being.
What’s the best type of massage for sciatica?
There are several types of massage therapy. There isn’t much evidence that one type is more beneficial for sciatica pain than another, so choosing one comes down to personal preference. Here’s a look at some of the most common types.
Deep tissue massage
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 2014 clinical study found that 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 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.
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.
Cupping massage uses silicone cups to life and separate tight tissue. Cupping massage also rehydrates restricted tissue for relief from nerve compression.