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Are Massage Guns Good for Sciatica? Does it Relieve Pain?

Sciatica nerve pain isn’t a disease, despite how the term sounds. Its a channel of pain that runs down the sciatica nerve, which runs through the back and down across the backs of your thighs. Its not a muscle, so it would be understandable if you felt like a massage gun wouldn’t do anything for it. 

Using a massage gun is beneficial for those dealing with sciatica, because it relaxes tight muscles by providing a deep tissue massage—or as close as you can come outside of massage therapy. The end result is quick sciatic pain relief.

Both relaxed muscles and a relaxed state of mind help reduce the painful symptoms of sciatica. Since pain is a signal that travels through the nerves, to the brain and vice versa. So a proper state of mind can certainly help.

What Massage Guns do to Help Sciatica Nerve Pain

When muscles are tight, the apply pressure to a nerve that’s already frayed and currently sending pain signals to the brain. The last thing that you want is more pressure. Throughout the day, as you work or go about your business, you use your muscles, even when you are sitting. 

Unfortunately, the muscles that surround the sciatic nerve are muscles that you use quite frequently, especially your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. If you think about it, just the act of moving one leg higher than the other, in a sitting position, stretches both your hamstrings and your glutes.

As the day wears on, a level of tension settles in on your muscles, increasing the pressure on your sciatic nerve. Thats where a massage gun comes in. The percussive effects do accomplish several things at once. 

  • Loosen and relax the muscles
  • Increase Blood Flow
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Relieve trigger points
  • Mimics deep tissue massage

A good massage gun is also percussive, as in it punches the muscle in a series of rapid movements. Of course, a massage gun does more than that, including vibrations, rolling, percussion, and variety of programmed movements that are designed to do all of the above. It basically acts as massage therapy that you control in the palm of your hand.

Massage guns also come with different heads that do different things. In fact, there are an insane number of massage heads available out there, and many massage guns are universal, so a lot of massage heads are compatible with different brands. 

Many of the different heads are designed for use with different muscle groups, but you will be able to get something out of almost any massage gun head in terms of dealing with sciatica pain.

Want to learn about the pros and cons of Massage Guns? Click here.

Massage Gun Tips and Tricks for Sciatica Nerve Pain

There’s a correct method for almost everything and there is a certain way of dealing with sciatica with a massage gun. You need a massage gun that has a few necessary features, such as:

  • Stall Force
  • Head Types
  • Applied Pressure
  • Lightweight gun
  • Stroke length

The stall force is how much pressure you apply before the gun stalls because the motor simply cannot compete with your level of applied pressure. 

You want something with a high stall force because, in order to adequately treat sciatica, you have to apply some serious pressure. The problem is, your sciatic nerve is buried a good way beneath your back muscle, extremely deep below your gluteus maximus, and deep beneath your hamstrings. 

You have to apply enough pressure to get to the muscles groups closest to the sciatic nerve so that those muscles will relax. This also plays into stroke length. Stroke length is also termed amplitude and the ideal amplitude on a massage gun is 12mm to 13mm. 

The idea is to get enough penetration to loosen those muscles immediately surrounding the sciatic nerve. In terms of the stall force, you want to aim for a 35lb to 45lb stall force. When you combine the two, yo and increase blood flow to get the maximum attributes needed for dealing with sciatica pain.

You’ll also discover—pretty quickly in fact—that you need a second person. Since Amazon.com doesn’t ship you a person armed with a massage gun on Prime, you’ll have to find someone or figure out a way to reach back, hammer those hamstrings, and apply enough pressure to make a difference. 

Speaking of pressure, you need to apply it. That’s what makes a lightweight massage gun so important. You don’t want to struggle with your sciatica only to create a new problem with carpal tunnel and tendonitis.

That’s why getting a lightweight, ergonomically advantageous massage gun should be at the top of your priority list. The head types fall somewhere along the middle tier of importance levels on your massage gun list.

Need a Massage Gun? Check out what the The Best Massage Gun for Sciatica is Here.

Massage Gun Tips/Heads for Sciatic Nerve Pain

You want tips that will penetrate, but not ones that will end up doing more damage than good. Round tips/heads (bullet head) are always good. In fact, the round tips are something that you would consider as the well-rounded, jack of all trades option. 

These are the four, best heads for your massage gun:

  • Wedge head
  • Lower-back head
  • Round four-finger head
  • Thumb head
  • Roundhead or bullet head

The wedge head is narrow and horizontal or vertical—however, you want to angle it—and is simply better at getting into the deep tissues over all of the others. The drawback is, of course, going too deep and causing pain.

With the wedge head, you can make your way down the spin without impacting bone and it will help dig between the seams of your muscles in your glutes and the backs of your legs. 

The lower-back head is just what it says it is and it gives you the ability to really work those lower back muscles around the sciatic nerve. You’ll know that you are directly on top of the sciatic nerve when you’re working your back and you feel it in your hamstrings and vice versa.

The lower back head is shaped like a T, with the horizontal section of the T curved downwards and dotted with little knobs across the top. It will give you the necessary impact without digging too deep. Since the muscles on your back are thinner, you don’t want to go too deep.

The thumb head is shaped just like your thumb if it were curled back with the thumb pad facing upward. Like the wedge, it can dig deep in a hurry, so be easy on it until you get the hang of it. 

We discussed the round head above and it’s really a good option as well, especially on those days when the pain level is moderate and a good, solid, round-head massage will more than do the trick.

Out of the five, you will probably find that the round head (bullet head) provides you with the most day-to-day sciatic pain relief out of all of them, thanks to it fitting comfortably in the average department. 

Last but not least is the round, four-finger head. This one is very similar to the wedge head in terms of really digging in, however, it lacks that dangerous pinch you’ll get from going too deep with the wedge head. 

What Not to Do

No matter how you apply the massage gun to your back, glutes, or hamstring, try to stay away from the bone. Your sciatic pain will be the least of your problems if you really dig into the bone.

These are percussive instruments with semi-hard heads and impacting the bone will certainly cause you more pain. Also, try to find that happy medium, where you are not digging in too hard, yet you are applying enough force to be effective.

To learn about how a massage gun can help a herniated disc click here.

Final Thoughts

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Massage guns will do wonders for your sciatica but they are not the end all be all. It’s still important for you to see your family doctor and get a check-up from time to time. Pain medication can be a great, short-term fix, but it’s addictive and not something that you want to go within the long term.

Outside of that, you’ll find a lot to love about a solid massage gun. It will help manage your sciatica pain and keep you going throughout the day. 

References

Greg (October 20, 2021). Is A Massage Gun Good For Sciatica? Will It Help?
Retrieved from: https://massagegunadvice.com/is-a-massage-gun-good-for-sciatica/

Ksenia, N. (December 5, 2021). Will a massage gun help with sciatica?
Retrieved from: https://besthomemassagedevices.com/will-a-massage-gun-help-with-sciatica/