Massage Gun for Sciatica

You might see athletes and regular Joes alike using massage guns to massage their muscles back into good health. However, what many people don't know is that massage guns aren't just good for sore muscles after your workout, but have other benefits as well.

For instance, massage guns can be used for sciatica, to help relieve some of that excruciating pain. 

The fact that nearly 40% of people will suffer from sciatic nerve pain at some point in their lives is more than enough for us to want to do something about it. Let's find out everything there is to know about using a massage gun for sciatica.


What is Sciatica and Sciatic Nerve Pain?

Massage Gun for Sciatica

Sciatica is a specific type of nerve pain associated with the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, a thick cluster of small nerve roots that branch off your spinal cord and go all the way from your spinal cord, down through your thigh, legs, and feet. 

This is why people who experience sciatic nerve pain often feel it all the way from their back down to their feet.

Sciatica is the pain that you feel when your sciatic nerve is injured or aggravated. For instance, compressing those nerve roots can not only affect the way in which your body functions, but also cause severe pain.

One of the most common symptoms of sciatica is an extreme shooting pain that goes all the way from the back down through the legs.

In most people, it is relegated to just the lower back and buttocks, but many people also experience it all the way down the legs. The pain is often described as searing, shooting, or sharp.

However, pain isn't the only thing associated with sciatica, as the compression of those vital nerves may also cause weakness, tingling, and numbness in one or both legs.


What Causes Sciatica?

There are a few main causes of sciatica or sciatic nerve pain, with disc herniations being one of the most common. When those cushions between your vertebrae bulge and move in ways that it shouldn't, it's known as disc herniation, and this can be very painful.

However, regular degeneration, or in other words the loss of spinal structure may also cause sciatic nerve pain.

There is also a condition known as spinal stenosis, which is where the openings in your spine narrow to the point where it compresses the roots of the sciatic nerve.

There's even more though, because sciatica may even be caused by something as simple as compressed muscles.

Specifically, the sciatic nerve passes underneath the piriformis muscle, which is found in the buttocks. If this muscle compresses the sciatic nerve, it may result in sciatica-like symptoms.


What’s a Massage Gun and How Does it Work?

Massage Gun

Now that we know what sciatica is, let's take a closer look at the second part of our equation, the massage gun.

Massage guns use something known as percussive therapy, and sometimes also vibration therapy, to provide you with relief. The recovery technique that massage guns rely on is known as myofascial release, which is the same technique that many massage therapists use to relieve sore and aching muscles.

Some types of massage guns provide you with real deep-tissue massages to help loosen up knots, heal muscles, reduce muscle soreness, and much more.

As mentioned before, massage guns can use both percussive therapy and vibration therapy. Vibration therapy involves a side-to-side motion of the attachments, whereas percussive therapy involves back-and-forth motion, in other words, they act like little hammers that loosen up those sore muscles.


Massage and Percussive Therapy for Sciatica

The reality here is that if your sciatica is caused by something like spinal stenosis or a disc herniation, then any amount of massage or percussion likely will not have a positive impact, as these are underlying conditions that must in themselves be solved.

However, if you are feeling sciatic nerve pain due to compressed muscles, specifically the piriformis muscle in the buttocks, then both massage and percussive therapy can be extremely useful for relieving sciatic nerve pain.

On that note, although massage and percussive therapy may not directly relieve the underlying causes of your sciatica, it can still be beneficial in a number of ways.


Massage gun for sciatica

Nutrient and Oxygen Delivery

One of the main ways in which a massage gun works is by increasing blood circulation throughout the body.

This kind of therapy helps to loosen up the muscles, which in turn increases circulation. This helps deliver more nutrients and oxygen to all of your most painful and sore areas.

It's all about promoting recovery, reducing inflammation, and alleviating pain. Theoretically, if you have an injury that caused your sciatic nerve pain, increasing blood flow to the area to speed up healing may be one of your best solutions.


Increasing the Pain Threshold

What is really interesting to note is that massage therapy, whether from a professional or a massage gun, can in fact reduce your overall perception of pain while simultaneously increasing your pain threshold.

If you have a higher pain threshold and a lower perception of pain, you'll end up feeling that sciatic nerve pain much less.


Sciatica Massage

Loosening Tight Muscles

The number one way in which massage guns help to alleviate pain caused by sciatica is by loosening up the muscles, specifically the piriformis muscle in the buttocks that we mentioned earlier.

If that muscle is really tight, it will compact your sciatica, and that can cause great pain.

Therefore, using a massage gun to loosen up your muscles and get rid of tight knots, can reduce the amount of compression on your sciatic nerve, therefore reducing the overall amount of pain that you feel.


A Serotonin Boost

The other interesting fact about using a massage gun for massage therapy is that it can boost both dopamine and serotonin levels in the human brain, both so-called feel-good hormones that help to alleviate stress and anxiety and may even help alleviate pain.

At the same time, massage therapy, such as that from a massage gun, can also help reduce cortisol, a hormone that causes stress. It's all about pain management.


How to Use a Massage Gun for Sciatica

As mentioned above, nerve pain caused by the piriformis muscle is really the only situation where a massage gun will be very helpful in relieving the pain.

Remember, a massage gun can't fix a slipped disc or spinal stenosis, but it can loosen up muscles, therefore reducing the amount of compression on the sciatic nerve.

One thing you should never do is to try to target your piriformis muscle yourself because you'll have to twist into an awkward position, which could potentially cause even more pain and damage. It's always best to be lying face down and relaxed, and have someone do it for you.

The person doing the massage gunning needs to be aware of joints and bony areas. While muscles benefit from massage guns, joints and bones certainly do not.

It's always a good idea to start on the lower setting as well, and then if needed, increase the speed and power.


Massage Guns and Sciatica – Conclusion

Massage Gun for Sciatica

The bottom line is that if you have tight muscles that are causing sciatic nerve pain, then a massage gun might just be your best option.

Instead of paying the big bucks to go to a massage therapist that may or may not help, you can invest just a little bit of money into a high end massage gun that will last you for years to come and provide you with immeasurable pain relief.