If you ever had sciatic never issues, you know the pain that happens in the lower back, travel down the glutes, and straight into your knee. Never had sciatic never pain? That is great, but check out this great video for information on it.
The sciatic never is a large nerve that starts as small nerves coming out of the low lumbar back, running down through the pelvic bones, sits kind of the back of your femur, and then turns into two different nerve paths at the back of the knee to supply the foot.
Right on top of that nerve is a cool muscle called the piriformis, which is why you can have sciatic pain referred to as piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is one of the six lateral rotators of the hip, helping with hip extension and abducting the femur. We really don’t know this deep muscle exists until we feel that searing pain in our butt that runs down the leg, and feels like you are being pulled down the earth when walking.
So when clients come to me with sciatic nerve issues, I always have a few things in mind. One, is to spend time in the low lumbar spine to massage out the areas where the nerve comes out. Second, sweep around the iliac crest because a lot of attachments start there for hip muscles. Third, a good elbow or fist to stretch out the glute tissue.
Woah, woah, woah, an elbow? In my butt cheek? Its more likely then you think.
Oh my god Becky, look at those muscles. Did you know your glutes are THREE different muscle layers? Three layers of super strong muscles to work through, let alone all those other muscles to help with merely picking up a leg to walk! So when that piriformis gets inflamed, there is no good space for it and it press right on that nerve. Did you know that some people are born with the sciatic nerve running through the piriformis?
Common populations who get this sciatic nerve pain are pregnant women, elderly, and people who sit long hours to work or play games. I find that a weak core and unattended hamstring muscles leave other muscles to tense. The tense can be in the low back, causing swayed hips, which put pressure in all the wrong places.
But Stephanie, what can we do about this? If you are experiencing this pain, come get a massage! We can work on loosening up the muscles, relieving the tension, and talking about a treatment plan right for your pain level. Some people need one session and some at home tips. Some people need to come once a week for a few months to get back into it, and combined with at home exercise start to feel human again.
At home work after your massage: make sure you are doing basic stretches every 30 minutes. Touch your toes, reach up high, pull back your shoulder to pop out chest, stretch one arm in front, then the other, etc. Next are to do core muscle exercises to take that pressure off your low back (Planks are great!). Sciatic specific yoga poses are next, which can greatly help stretch out the affected muscles.
Remember to make it habit, or you won’t see the results you need to feel better!
Stephanie Friedersdorff, LMT (College Station, TX)
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