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Is massage good for sciatica? In this article, you will find out how a sports massage can help sciatica pain, Why you should pick a sports massage for sciatica vs. other therapies, and what to do for quick relief.

Sports Massage for Sciatica Pain

As many as 40% of the population will get sciatica at one point in the their life. So, how can a sports massage help with sciatica pain? A sports massage is one of the best ways to release the tight muscles that are creating compression on the sciatic nerve. Sports massage therapy can help with both a herniated disc and piriformis syndrome. Here's how.

Herniated Disc

About 3% of the population will develop a herniated disc at one point in their life. A herniated disc is when the softer nucleus pushes through the tough external wall called the annulus. A bulging disc is similar, except there is no tear in the annulus, only a bulging protrusion.

There are 2 parts to a Herniated disc. The tough annulus becoming weak and the soft nucleus moving through it.

How does the annulus become weak?

There are several ways for our the annulus to become weak.

  1. Bone Spurs - Boney knobs form around the endplates of bones, and if they creep into the disc's area, they can create tears within the annulus.
  2. Traumatic Injury - Instantly falling, getting in a car accident, or injury playing sports can instantly damage the annulus.
  3. Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) - A normal process of excessive wear and tear. When this happens, the discs begin to dry up and lose flexibility, making them easier to tear.
  4. Overuse - Too much stress placed on the joints like sports, construction, caregiving, etc., can lead to a faster wear and tear process, resulting in a tear.

The Moving Nucleus

The soft nucleus inside the disc is the same as a jelly-filled donut. The disc is the outer shell, and the nucleus is the jelly. When you squeeze or compress one side of the donut, the jelly will get pushed out on the opposite side. This is the same as your nucleus.

When you create compression on the spine, the discs become compressed, and when there is a weakened spot within the disc, the nucleus will push into that spot, resulting in a herniated disc.

Gravity already creates a compressive force on our spine when we are standing or sitting, but having excessive weight can also create compression.

Piriformis Syndrome

About 6% of the population who has lower back pain/glute pain will also have piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is caused by the piriformis muscle becoming tight and compressing on the sciatic nerve. This muscle, located behind the glutes, tends to get tight on those of us who sit all day long.

This pain usually starts in the glutes and then travels down the leg. This is similar to a herniated disc that starts the lower back pain and then goes into the glutes and down the leg.

Sports Massage Vs. Other Therapies for Sciatica

Here is a quick rundown of why you should choose sports massage for your sciatica pain.

Sports Massage

A sports massage is not just for athletes; It's for anyone who wants to:

  • Increase flexibility and range of motion
  • Relieve chronic pain
  • Lower muscle tightness and tension
  • Help nerves relax
  • Decrease muscle spasms
  • Decrease joint compression
  • Improved sense of well being
  • eliminate lactic acid faster
  • Improve sleep quality

Sports massage therapy is also referred to as orthopedic or clinical massage. This means sports massage not only performs deep work but also looks at injuries and performance enhancement. This is why a sports massage is perfect for sciatica.

So with that said, let us compare them to a few other therapies.

Of course, I'm a sports massage therapist, so I will be biased but let me give you a quick reason for each one.

Due to the oil and draping, Swedish is a terrible massage choice for decompressing the tight muscles and discs. Deep tissue (not deep pressure) works by going deep into the muscles near the spine to release the tension, not focus on relaxing the nerves. And stretching and traction cant release trigger points or fascia restrictions.

Is Massage Good for Sciatica? Here are 3 Other Associated Questions and Answers

Can a massage make sciatica worse?

The short answer is yes if you're in the hands of an amateur. Everything will depend on the severity of your sciatica, where it's originating from, and more. Massages in general target the muscle tissue, which usually contributes to creating compression.

Is massage or chiropractor better for sciatica?

A massage is designed to help relax the tight muscles helping create compression on the sciatic nerve, while chiropractors focus on opening the joint itself through high-velocity manipulations. The problem is, without releasing the tight muscles creating the compression, the joint will most likely return to create compression, which is why a massage is better.

How often should you get a massage for sciatica?

Healthline suggests up to 5 times per week for up to 2 weeks. But being a massage therapist, this is a lot for the body to go through, especially because there are only so many areas to massage for sciatica, which means you will be beating up the same tissues repeatedly. So, as a massage therapist's recommendation, you should get 1-2 sports massages each week for sciatica pain.


Is massage good for sciatica? The short answer is yes because it helps release the tight muscles creating compression on the sciatic nerve. And because of this, getting a massage helps relax the muscles, which in turn decompresses on the sciatic nerve, relieving pain.

If you have sciatica and live in the San Diego Area, then check out our San Diego Sports Massage by clicking on the link here. This specialized sports massage combines the best modalities together to give you the best massage money can buy.

First Time customers get 30% off their first session, so hurry now before spots are booked.

About the Author Adam

Adam is the owner of Train and Massage and has earned multiple certifications including Human Movement Specialist, Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and More.

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