Sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica, can be lessened with massage therapy. A pinched nerve can cause this pain, which radiates down the lower back and into the back of the leg. Massage therapy can address the muscles that put pressure on the nerve and help avoid future sciatic nerve flare-ups. If you have sciatica, talk to your doctor to see if massage therapy might be right for you.
Goal of Massage Therapy
Your massage therapist will seek to relax the muscles that surround the affected sciatic nerve. Tense muscles may press up against or squeeze the nerve, and massage therapy will counteract this reaction.
Types of Massage Stroke
The therapist will avoid using deep, friction-based strokes on the affected area, as these may further aggravate the nerve and cause additional flare-ups. Long, soothing strokes seek to stretch and relax the affected muscles. The therapist also may use his fist to gently tap the area.
Eastern Massage and Sciatica
Eastern massage focuses on energetic pathways that travel throughout the body, one of which sits directly over the sciatic nerve. Shiatsu massage seeks to restore the energy balance in this pathway with light, sweeping strokes. The massage therapist may stimulate pressure points along this pathway with his thumb or finger.
Self Massage for Sciatic Nerve Pain
If you can't make it to a massage therapist, have a friend or loved one help you address this area. He should start by applying gentle pressure to the lower back and leg by firmly compressing it with the palm of his hand. He then can use the palm to make gentle, circular motions. He also can sweep the palm over the affected area using lubricant. Be sure to have him point the stroke toward the heart, as this will help drain stagnant fluids in the area. If you perform these techniques after a hot shower or soaking the affected area with a warm towel, the strokes will be deeper, further relaxing the muscles.
Talk to Your Doctor
Check with your doctor before applying these massage techniques or visiting a therapist. Massage can inflame the tissue if applied incorrectly, which could worsen the problem. Also, symptoms that seem like sciatica can be caused by another ailment. Receive a diagnosis before getting a massage.
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