The sciatic nerve is the longest single nerve in your body. It runs from the bottom of your spine, through your buttocks, thighs and calves all the way down to your feet.
Sciatica is the term used to describe the pain and discomfort we may experience along our sciatic nerve areas. If any part of your sciatic nerve is pressed or squeezed beyond its normal placement, this can lead to a sharp pain radiating from your lower back all the way down to your feet. The pain can be very uncomfortable and irritating and it is estimated that nearly half of us will suffer from it at some stage in our lives.
➪ Pain caused by issues with the sciatic nerve pressing against tight muscles and tendons can be eased using specific techniques through massage for sciatica.
It is generally agreed that both massage and chiropractic treatments can help with sciatica.
The jury is out on which is more beneficial but recent independent research (see below) had suggested that a simple full-body relaxing massage had better results.
➪ We believe the better feedback achieved through massage could be due to the release of natural pain relieving hormones, as discussed below.
The release of endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin (commonly called your Happy Hormones) are renowned for being effective natural pain relievers and generally helping make you feel calmer.
Spending time with friends, having a calmer approach to issues and even just touching others such as hugging someone can all help release happy hormones into your body.
Not surprising then that getting regular massages - especially from a masseuse that you trust and feel empathy with - is an excellent and effective way to promote the release of natural pain relieving endorphins that can target and help with sciatic nerve related pain and issues. This may be one of the most important aspects that led to the research study participants reporting improvements in their lower back pain.
The idea behind using deep tissue massage for relief of sciatica is that the Piriformis muscles sits deep inside the buttocks and, if tense, could cause compression of the sciatic nerve.
Massage of may Piriformis muscle could help it to relax and therefore reduce the pressure on the nerve.
➪ If you're suffering from sciatica use our FocusMate to select back, buttocks and legs as specific focus areas when booking your treatment.
As well as massage we have also found that focussed and appropriate exercise and in particular, stretches, can work wonders for sciatica.
One of our favourite videos for effectively treating sciatica pain through gentle and focused stretching is the one published by Fitness Blender. Over the last several years we have repeatedly found the tips in this video help many customers with many reporting significant improvement felt immediately after the stretching session.
Some of our massage therapists use very similar moves as part of their gentle stretches which form part of their sciatica massage therapy.
In 2014, research published by The Scientific World Journal claimed that deep tissue massage can reduce lower back pain. We believe this claim is accurate and true. It is supported by empirical evidence throughout the world as well as numerous other scientific studies including a recent study comparing the effects of 2 types of massage on chronic low back pain.
This supporting study randomly selected 400 people who had all suffered with lower back pain for a period of at least 3 months and divided them into three groups:
➪ Group 1 - participants received weekly full-body relaxation massages (lucky them!)
➪ Group 2 - participants received weekly lower back and hip area massages (lucky them too!)
➪ Group 3 - participants were asked to continue with their usual non-massage care (such as taking pain medications or muscle relaxants, seeing a doctor or doing nothing at all)
After 10 weeks, it was evident that massage therapy made a significant impact on pain relief. Specifically, over 35% of those who received weekly massages reported that their lower back pain had significantly improved or even vanished. This was in stark contrast to only 4% from the non-massage group experiencing similar benefits.
The massage groups also outperformed the non-massage group when it came to less dramatic but still noteworthy improvements. Intriguingly, the type of massage — whether full-body or targeted to the lower back and hip area — didn't seem to matter; both were beneficial in alleviating pain.
There is no evidence that a properly performed massage for sciatica can worsen the issue. To the contrary, as discussed above, there are many reasons why massage, especially gentle massage, can have a beneficial effect on sciatic pain.