Can Sports Massage Help With Pain Relief From Sciatica?

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 every leg. Sciatica usually affects only one side of your body and can range in severity from mild to severe. It is often accompanied by other symptoms, including numbness, tingling, or weakness of the affected leg and foot.

Sciatica can interfere with your daily activities and make it difficult to stand, walk, and even sit. If you would like to try an alternative to traditional painkillers, massage may be helpful. It will not 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 of alleviating pain. A 2014 study also found that deep tissue massage may be as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve low back pain, which may be a symptom of sciatica.

Massage can help in two ways when it comes to sciatica. The main benefit of massage is the soothing of tense muscles. When your muscles are tense, you can put more pressure on your nerves, including your sciatic nerve. Massaging these tense muscles can help to reduce the pressure on your sciatic nerve.

Soft tissue massage may also help to increase the pain threshold by stimulating the release of endorphins. Endorphins increase pleasure and relieve pain, causing an increased feeling of well-being. They’re also released during sex, exercise, and eating.

The effects of Sports Massage on nerves and soft tissues

Depending on the type of massage, a therapist may work on your muscles, joints, nerves, and/or connective tissue layers deep below your skin. Examples of massage techniques include deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, and neuromuscular therapy.

Massage may cause the following changes to occur in your body, easing sciatica pain:

  • Release the endorphin. Massage stimulates specific brain pressure receptors that are special nerve fibers. Stimulation of these pressure receptors helps reduce pain by releasing the body’s natural feeling-good hormone, endorphins.
  • Reduce your stress. Stimulation of pressure receptors also helps reduce the levels of cortisol in your body—a hormone that causes stress. Reduced stress helps to give a feeling of relaxation and relief, with a lower perception of pain.
  • Relax your muscles. When your trunk, core, and lower back muscles are tight, they can put pressure on the sciatic nerve root(s) in your lower back. Tight muscles may also be knotted into small, painful nodules, causing point pain to trigger. Massage therapy can effectively stretch, loosen and prolong these muscles, improving pain and function in your lower back and legs.
  • Facilitate the circulation of nutrient healing. Hands-on soft tissue massage manipulation stimulates the blood vessels in your skin and deeper tissues. Increased circulation of blood, oxygen, and other nutrients to the sore areas promotes healing.

Some therapists may use aromatic oils or essential oils to rub your skin. Some of these oils may have a therapeutic effect on tissues and may help to reduce pain. The scent of these oils also helps to give the overall feeling of relaxation. If you are disturbed by certain types of scents, inform your therapist before starting a massage.

Massages are generally safe when performed by a trained professional. Increased pain, soreness, stiffness, and/or damage to blood vessels and/or nerves may occur rarely as a result of the forceful application of the pressure.