patient receiving lower back massage

Few things are better for aches and pains than a good massage. In terms of the different types of massage available, sports massage is one of the most well-rounded, appealing to both athletes and non-athletes alike. Sports massages are particularly useful in treating the limbs and extremities, making it ideal for combating sciatica pain. But to understand precisely why sports massage is so effective against sciatic nerve pain, we need to understand a bit about sciatica as a condition and the techniques used in sports massage therapy. 


What Is Sciatic Nerve Pain? 

The sciatic nerve is a nerve that begins in the lower back and runs down the leg. When the sciatic nerve is pinched or otherwise aggravated, it can cause a radiating pain or numbness, leaving your leg feeling like it is on pins and needles. It is this pain and numbness in which sports massage is most effective. 


What Techniques Are Used in Sports Massage?

 As a practice, sports massage therapy is named because it targets the soft tissues most easily strained by athletes, helping to loosen stiff muscles and relieve pain, such as the pain caused by sciatica. There are two different techniques used in a sports massage therapy session, each with another purpose. 

The initial technique, called effleurage, is a light touch that encourages the warming up of the muscles, making them easier to manipulate during the session. Depending on the pressure used in the effleurage at the beginning portion of the therapy session, blood and lymph fluid flow increase, helping to rid the muscles of any toxins that have built up. 

The second technique, called petrissage, is a firmer, squeezing touch that can help loosen knotted or spasming muscles, increasing the patient’s overall motion range. Sometimes, a quick rubbing of a particular spot, known as frictions, can help work out particularly knotted areas of tissue. 

The deeper, methodical stroking and squeezing of petrissage can help open up blood flow and the bodies’ lymphatic system, thereby removing toxins. As petrissage opens blood flow, it allows more reparative blood cells to reach an injury area, helping the patient look to use sports massage to recover from an injury, like a pinched nerve.


The Final Word 

With their varied approaches, sports massages make for the ideal treatment for aches and pains of all sorts, even of the pinched nerves that cause sciatic pain. In addition to working out the tissues, the massage can leave the patient feeling more relaxed and better overall. 

If the idea of a sports massage appeals to you, call your local massage parlor and ask if this is a service they offer. Occasionally, physical therapy practitioners may also have this as a service, or if they don’t, they would know of a place where you could get a sports massage.

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