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Massage therapy effectively relieves sciatic nerve pain. Therapeutic massage can help ease sciatic pain in two ways. It soothes your tense muscles and increases your tolerance to pain.
If you are currently experiencing sciatic pain, this post can be a helpful guide to learn about sciatica, how massage therapy can help relieve sciatic pain and which massage technique can effectively address the symptoms.
What is Sciatica?
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Sciatica refers to pain that starts along the sciatic nerve, which travels from the lower back through the hips, buttocks and down to either one of the legs.
The sciatic nerve has both motor and sensory functions. Consequently, sciatica can cause muscle weakness and nerve-related pain.
What Causes Sciatica?
A slipped or herniated disc often causes sciatica. A slipped disc happens when a part or all of the disc is pushed through a weaker section of the spine. Severe pain can occur when the disc presses on the sciatic nerve.
What are Common Symptoms of Sciatica?
Sciatica typically affects one side of the body and can range from mild to severe in terms of pain intensity. It is often linked with extra symptoms such as numbness, a tingling sensation, or weakness in the leg and foot.
Sciatica can interfere with your daily activities, making tasks such as standing, walking, and even sitting quite difficult.
Who is at Risk of Sciatica?
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Everyone is susceptible to sciatica because the natural wear and tear resulting from physical activity can eventually lead to changes or deterioration in discs, bones and ligaments. The good news is that such injuries are temporary and can improve with rest and therapy.
Here are conditions that can increase the risk of experiencing sciatic nerve pain:
Individuals aged 30 and older are more susceptible to injuries and degenerative conditions like arthritis.
Engaging in strenuous activities such as heavy lifting, whether for work, sports or exercise, can also contribute to the risk of sciatica pain.
Sitting for extended periods can cause the muscles around the nerve to become stiff and less flexible.
Excess weight places additional pressure on your spine and back muscles.
Diabetes increases the chances of nerve damage, which can harm the sciatic nerve.
The later stages of pregnancy release specific hormones that relax ligaments. Also, the physical strain of carrying the baby can put stress on the spine and back muscles.
Smoking tobacco can weaken spinal tissues and bones.
How Can Massage Relieve Sciatica Pain?
Massage therapy can stimulate blood vessels and enhance blood circulation. It's also a useful way to reduce pain and can help lessen lower back pain.
Tight muscles in the lower back can exert pressure on the sciatic nerve. Massage therapy decreases muscle tension and aids in releasing knots, which can reduce pressure on the nerve.
Additionally, massage stimulates the release of endorphins and decreases stress hormone levels. This combination of effects enhances feelings of pleasure, offers pain relief and promotes relaxation to facilitate the recovery process.
What Kind of Massage is Best for Sciatica?
If you have sciatic pain, various types of massage therapies are available. Nevertheless, there are not enough studies that suggest one type of therapeutic massage is more effective in reducing sciatic nerve pain than another. And so, selecting the best massage for relieving sciatica pain depends on your personal preference.
Let's explore some of the most common massage therapies for sciatica pain:
Deep Tissue Massage
A clinical study conducted in 2014 discovered that a 30-minute deep tissue massage session, administered five days a week for two weeks, effectively treated low back pain, including pain associated with sciatica.
Deep tissue massage is an intensive massage technique that can help reduce chronic pain. In this type of massage, the therapist applies slow strokes and deep finger pressure to ease tension in your muscles and connective tissues.
During the deep tissue massage, our licenced massage therapist will apply firm pressure slowly and evenly to stretch and relax the muscle tissues. Because of such pressure applied on your muscles, you may feel sore within 2 to 3 days. But you will feel a deep sense of relaxation once the soreness subsides.
Hot Stone Massage
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A hot stone massage helps relax tense muscles and promotes overall relaxation. This massage technique typically uses basalt stones, which are volcanic rocks high in iron content, allowing them to retain and radiate heat effectively.
During a hot stone massage, our therapist may place heated stones on specific areas of your body or use them in conjunction with Swedish massage techniques.
The positioning of the stones in a hot stone massage is determined by the muscles and tissues being targeted for treatment. If you have lower back pain, for instance, the massage therapist might place the hot stones along your spine.
The techniques used by our experienced massage therapist will be tailored to your specific needs. Typically, massage therapists apply circular motions, kneading, long strokes and vibrations when using hot stones during this type of massage.
Trigger Point Therapy (Neuromuscular Massage)
Trigger point therapy targets specific areas in your body known as trigger points, which are tense or tight sections in your body. When external pressure is applied to a focal point, the trigger point can sometimes spread pain to other areas of your body.
Trigger points are located in areas where muscles have difficulty releasing tension. Trigger point therapy involves working on these areas to reduce tightness and pain in the affected area. It can assist in managing sciatica flare-ups by reducing stress on your body, addressing tense areas and releasing endorphins that promote relaxation.
Whilst this type of massage therapy can be a relaxing and effective choice for managing sciatica, it may not be suitable for everyone. If trigger point therapy is not accessible to you, there are other methods to address sciatic pain.
How to Massage Sciatica Trigger Points
Applying sustained pressure to trigger points in the piriformis muscle, as well as in other related muscles can aid in relieving tension and reducing restrictions around the sciatic nerve.
In such situations, you may want to apply pressure rather than rub the affected area, as rubbing can cause irritation and worsen the pain.
Myofascial Release Therapy
Myofascial release therapy targets the myofascial tissue, which is a network of tissue that extends throughout your entire body, connecting your muscles, joints, and bones.
Typically, when sciatica flares up, it can tighten the muscles around the affected area. This will consequently lead to severe pain that, for some people, can be debilitating. Myofascial release therapy focuses on the regions where your muscles have become tense and gradually works to release such strain.
During myofascial release treatment, the massage therapist usually begins with a gentle approach and gradually explores tight or sore areas throughout your body. When tight or sore areas are found, the massage therapist will apply consistent and gentle pressure to release tension and work through knots in the myofascial tissue.
How to Find the Right Massage Therapist
Generally, a certified and trained professional like a massage therapist conducts therapeutic massages. You can experience a relaxation massage at a spa or a dedicated massage centre.
Identify Your Goals
Determine your goals before beginning your search for a massage therapist. For instance, if you aim to alleviate lower back tension, seek a therapist trained in targeted muscle relaxation techniques like neuromuscular therapy. If your objective is to boost your endorphin levels, you can visit your nearby spa for a standard deep-tissue massage.
Speak With Your Doctor
Your doctor can recommend a qualified health practitioner in your area who provides therapeutic massage. If you have specific health conditions such as high blood pressure or leg nerve problems (neuropathy), you should consult your doctor to find out if massage is a safe option for managing your sciatica pain.
Let Our Skilled and Experienced Therapists Massage Away Your Sciatica
Skilled therapists can provide pain relief from sciatica pain. The experienced professionals at Siam Soul are eager to assist you with your discomfort. Our massage therapists provide targeted and customised treatment on specific areas around the sciatic nerve to help relieve sciatic pain.
If you're seeking a safe massage option to help with sciatica, book a massage today with our talented team of massage therapists. They are ready to discuss your individual needs with you.
1. What kind of massage is best for sciatica?
Deep tissue massage, hot stone massage or myofascial release therapy can help relieve pain from sciatica. However, there is limited evidence to indicate that one type of massage is superior in relieving sciatic nerve pain compared to another. Therefore, selecting the best massage for managing sciatica pain largely depends on your personal preference.
2. Is it OK to get a massage with sciatica pain?
Massage therapy is an excellent alternative to traditional painkillers. Whilst it won’t treat the underlying cause, it can provide pain relief, albeit temporarily.
3. How often should you massage for sciatica?
A 30-minute deep tissue massage session, performed five days a week for two weeks can effectively treat pain associated with sciatica.