Massage Therapy for Sciatica: Does it Help Sciatic Pain?

by Jacky Edstrom
by Jacky Edstrom
massage for sciatic pain

Sciatica can be experienced by people of all ages and is often debilitating, making it difficult to perform everyday activities. Fortunately, massage therapy can provide relief from sciatica pain. Discover the different ways massage therapy can assist with sciatica pain relief and the different types of massage that work best.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica pain is caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. The Sciatica Nerve begins in the base of the lower spine and runs through each buttock, down the back of both legs, and all the way down to the feet. Any form of irritation or pinching along this route can cause sciatica nerve pain. Compression of the sciatic nerve can cause back pain, numbness, and tingling in one or both legs.

What Causes Sciatica Pain?

Common causes of sciatica include past injuries or ongoing conditions such as a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, or injury to the muscles and ligaments that support the spine. Sciatica nerve pain can also be caused by genetic predispositions, obesity, diabetes, and poor posture.

How to Reduce Sciatica Pain

Reducing sciatica pain typically involves a combination of lifestyle modifications, exercises, and physical therapy. Common treatments include stretching and strengthening exercises, chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, heat and ice therapies, over-the-counter pain medications, or prescription drugs. In some cases, surgery may be required to provide lasting relief.

Massage Therapy for Sciatica Pain

Massage therapy is a non-invasive treatment option for sciatica pain. It can help to reduce muscle tension, increase circulation, and improve the range of motion in the affected area. Massage techniques such as trigger point therapy, myofascial release, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and neuromuscular therapy may be used. Additionally, therapeutic exercises and stretches may be prescribed in order to help reduce pain and improve mobility. Here are some of the ways massage therapy can help reduce sciatica pain.

Eases Muscle Tension

Massage therapy is an effective way to ease tension in the muscles which can lead to sciatica pain. When muscle tension increases, it can cause compression of the sciatic nerve, leading to pain and irritation. Massage therapy helps alleviate this tension by increasing circulation and allowing for a greater range of motion. It also helps reduce inflammation which can further reduce pain.

Promotes Circulation

Massage therapy can help improve circulation to the affected area, which helps reduce inflammation and pain. Improved circulation also helps carry away toxins and promote cell repair. With increased circulation, you’re less likely to experience compressed or pinched nerves that lead to sciatica pain.

Improves Mobility

When a muscle is tight or immobile, it can lead to increased pressure on the sciatic nerve. This can create a compressed and pinched nerve, resulting in sciatica pain. Massage therapy helps to improve muscle mobility and flexibility by releasing tension and reducing inflammation that causes the muscles to become restricted or stiff. By increasing the range of motion, massage therapy can help reduce sciatic pain.

Releases Endorphins

Massage therapy helps to release endorphins in the body, which are hormones that act as natural painkillers. Endorphins are released through a process called mechanotransduction, which is when pressure or tension is applied to the skin and muscles of the body and triggers the release of endorphins. The type of massage therapy used can also influence the level of endorphins released.

Reduces Stress

Massage therapy helps to reduce stress in several ways. First, it promotes relaxation by targeting specific areas of the body that are tense or sore. By targeting tight spots and relieving tension, massage therapy helps to relax the muscles and reduce stress levels. Massage therapy also helps to ease anxiety and depression by releasing endorphins such as serotonin.

Best Massages for Sciatic Nerve Pain

Deep Tissue Massage

A deep tissue massage is one of the most effective treatments for sciatica nerve pain. This type of massage involves applying deeper pressure to target specific areas such as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to reduce tension and improve the range of motion in the affected area. Deep tissue massage focuses on the underlying muscle layers and connective tissues, which helps to alleviate pain, reduce swelling and improve circulation.

Swedish Massage

A Swedish massage is a great choice for helping to reduce sciatic nerve pain. This type of massage therapy helps increase circulation and reduce muscle tension, which can help alleviate the symptoms associated with sciatica. It is also beneficial in reducing stress, tension, and anxiety levels, which can contribute to increased pain levels.

Myofascial Release

This form of massage therapy focuses on releasing restrictions and tension within the myofascial tissue, which can help to reduce pain associated with sciatica. This technique involves applying pressure to specific areas to break up these restrictions, as well as stretching and lengthening the tissue. Myofascial release is an effective and gentle way to reduce pain associated with sciatica.

Neuromuscular Massage

This type of massage focuses on targeting specific areas in the body that are associated with sciatica pain, such as the lower back and buttock muscles. Neuromuscular massage allows for a deeper level of pressure to be applied, which helps to reduce pain and improve mobility. It is important to note that this type of massage may be too intense for some people, so it is best to speak with a doctor or massage therapist before trying it.

At-Home Massage

Giving yourself an at-home massage can be a great way to relieve tension, reduce pain and improve circulation. Here are some ways you can massage yourself at home to help reduce sciatic pain:

  • Use a topical pain relief cream or balm to massage the affected area.
  • Apply pressure with your fingers and knuckles in circular motions over tight muscles.
  • Take warm baths with Epsom salts to help reduce inflammation and improve circulation.
  • Perform gentle stretches such as cobra pose, child’s pose, and piriformis stretch to help improve mobility.
  • Use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage the affected area.


It is important to note that massage therapy is not a cure for sciatica nerve pain, but it can be extremely helpful in relieving symptoms and improving overall comfort levels. It is best to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before trying any massage techniques to make sure they are appropriate for your individual needs. Taking the time to perform regular massage therapy sessions can provide you with significant relief from sciatica pain and help you feel better overall.

Book a session at CC Massage in Vancouver today to experience the power of massage therapy for yourself. With experienced and knowledgeable therapists, CC Massage will provide a safe and effective treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs. Our team is committed to helping you reduce pain, improve mobility, and feel better overall. Contact us today to book your appointment–we look forward to helping you live a healthier and more pain-free life.

About the author

Jacky Edstrom
Jacky Edstrom is an experienced registered massage therapist based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. With a combination of general Swedish massage, fascial techniques, pin and stretch, joint mobilizations, and trigger point release, Jacky offers tailored treatments to address a variety of orthopedic and systemic conditions. She specializes in providing relief from migraines, headaches, overuse injuries, and acute and chronic conditions. With her patient-centred approach, Jacky's goal is to increase the well-being of her clients by restoring balance, enhancing joint function, and preventing injury.

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