Contrary to popular belief, sciatica is not a condition in itself, but a set of symptoms that can result from a variety of injuries, biomechanical issues, and imbalances that put pressure on the sciatic nerves in the body. Since it can have different causes, there are several treatment methods that can help sciatica sufferers find relief. One of the most effective options for easing many of the symptoms is massage, which not only relieves the pressure that contributes but can also help prevent the pain from recurring. How can massage help relieve sciatica symptoms?
The Sciatica Story
The sciatic nerves are the largest in the body, leaving each side of the low spine to branch out through the seat and pelvis into the legs and feet. These nerves are responsible for motor function and sensory input, and since they extend down the legs, problems with the sciatic nerve can reach all the way to the feet and toes.
In most cases, the sciatic nerve is irritated or damaged by compression, which can result from spinal misalignment, soft tissue damage or inflammation, and even compression by imbalanced muscles through which the nerves pass. This pressure on the nerves results in symptoms like burning, sharp, shooting, throbbing, or aching pain, tingling, numbness, and even weakness in the legs. How can massage help relieve this discomfort?
Soften the Strain
Most Americans are not as active as they need to be, and our bodies are relatively imbalanced in terms of stabilizing muscle. When someone has a weak core, for example, one muscle group that tends to become overactive to compensate is that around the seat. Tight muscles in the low back and the glutes can pull on the structures of the pelvis, through which the sciatic nerves pass, and smaller muscles like the piriformis can actually grip the nerves, putting intense pressure on them and resulting in pain and dysfunction. Targeted massage can relieve tightness in overactive muscles and their strain on surrounding tissues.
Soothe the Irritation
Tight muscles can also compress the nerves around an injury. This can limit the circulation of healing oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood into the area, prevent the removal of cellular wastes like lactic acid and the inflammatory products that collect after the initial injury. Deep tissue massage increases blood flow and the release of wastes that may be irritating nerves.
Improve your Pain Tolerance
Deep massage also offers the benefit of improving pain tolerance, because this type of tissue manipulation can actually stimulate the release of endorphins into your system, which are the body’s natural “painkillers.” Also, massage can soften connective tissue like fascia, which, when tense, can increase friction and tension between muscles and limit mobility and range of motion.
Is Sciatica Straining your Active Lifestyle?
Symptoms of sciatica can really cramp your activity levels when they’re resulting in chronic pain and discomfort. Fast and effective treatment depends on a comprehensive approach to care that includes spinal alignment to fix the problem at its source, massage to relieve muscle imbalance and create a healing environment in the tissues, and therapy to help the body develop strength and stability for the future. Contact Synergy Health in Naples to get on the road to recovery today!