According to the Global Burden of Disease study conducted in 2010, low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, and half of all American adults admit to having back pain symptoms every year. Many times, low back pain goes hand in hand with other symptoms like sciatic nerve pain. What is sciatica, and what can you do to find sciatica and back pain relief?

What is Sciatica, or Sciatic Nerve Pain?

The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body, beginning in the lower back and running deep through the buttocks, down the back of each thigh and into the foot. The sciatic nerve serves the vital function of connecting the foot and leg muscles to the spinal cord, but when that nerve is compressed or irritated by a herniated disc or muscle spasm, it radiates sharp, searing pain through the buttocks, and down through the thigh and leg. Sufferers are often in intense pain, and quick sciatic pain relief might be found with something as simple as foam rolling.

Like a Rolling Foam

A foam roller looks like a log made of dense, elastic foam, and it was originally used by physical therapists and athletes as a means to improve flexibility. As early as 2005, the foam roller was patented for use as a tool for self-myofascial release therapies. Myofascial release is like pressure-facilitated massage, which not only helps in muscle recovery and healing, it can release tissue tightness, increase range of motion, and improve circulation to reduce inflammation and stress. How will this work for you?

Foam Rolling to the Rescue

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, it’s important to massage all of the major muscles in the lower body when coping with sciatic nerve pain, as pain in one part of the body may be caused by a tightness in a completely different area. Foam roller exercises should also include the following muscles for back pain relief:

  • The Glutes ( and Piriformis!)

Massaging the glutes and piriformis are essential to finding sciatica pain relief. Shortened, weak gluteus muscles fail to support the lumbar spine and hips causing increased pressure, and a small, overworked hip muscle in the buttocks called the piriformis can cramp around the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica all by itself.

  • Hamstrings

Tight hamstrings can be a contributing factor to sciatic nerve pain, but low back pain can also cause hamstrings to tighten. Easing the tension by rolling them out can provide sciatica pain relief.

  • Upper Thighs and Hip Flexors

Massaging tight upper thighs will not only serve to improve imbalances between them and the hamstrings, it will also release tight hip flexors, which are a leading cause of low back pain. The hip flexors include the iliopsoas muscles, which run from the lower spine, through the hips, to the tops of the thighs. These muscles can tighten from too much sitting, and pull the low back forward, resulting in a “sway back” posture that increases lumbar pressure and strain.

Is Sciatic Nerve Pain Cramping Your Lifestyle?

At Health Star Clinic, our professional medical staff treats a variety of painful conditions including sciatica, using a comprehensive approach for managing pain and for providing a path to recovery. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!