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Treating Sciatica with a Massage Chair

Feel Better With Massage

Many people deal with pain that radiates from their lower back down through their glutes and legs. This uncomfortable and all to common condition is typically referred to as sciatica. It can affect anyone and is a real pain in the butt, literally. 

It can be difficult to deal with sciatica pain because it can be very sudden and unpredictable. So many sufferers turn to medications for help without very promising results, and the condition can even cause people to avoid activities they once loved. That is no way to go about life. But what can be done that promises longer-term results?

Well, you’re in for a treat because one of the best non-invasive treatments also happens to be one of the most relaxing- massage. 

But first, let’s dive into what sciatica actually is so that you can better understand how massage can help.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is the term used to talk about the pain felt along the sciatic nerve, which extends from your lower back, through your hips and buttocks, and down each leg.

Sciatica usually affects one side of your body at a time and can range in severity from moderate to severe. It’s frequently experienced with additional symptoms, including numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected leg and foot.

Sciatica can impede everyday activities and even make standing, walking, and sitting very painful or difficult. As an alternative to traditional painkillers, which don’t always work very well for nerve-related pain, massage can be able to help. It won’t cure the underlying cause of your sciatica, which could be the result of injuring or pinching the nerve, but it can offer some reliable relief from pain.

Take a look at the potential benefits of massage for sciatica and how you can try it for yourself right in the comfort of your own home with a massage chair.

What are the Benefits of Massage for Sciatica?

Massage therapy is an effective way to alleviate several different types of pain. A 2014 study even found that deep tissue massage could be as effective as anti-inflammatory medication that isn’t a steroid at eliminating lower back pain, which is often a symptom of sciatica.

When it comes to sciatica, massage can assist with pain management in two ways. The main benefit is soothing tense muscles and relieving the pressure they put on the surrounding tissues. When your muscles are tense, they squeeze and press down on your nerves, including your sciatic nerve. Massaging these tense muscles can help to minimize pressure on your sciatic nerve, thus alleviating pain.

Soft tissue massage can also assist to increase your pain tolerance by encouraging the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the hormones associated with feeling good and are natural painkillers. They can help to increase your feeling of well-being. They are also released during activities like bonding, exercise, and eating.

The Effects of Massage on Nerves & Soft Tissues

Depending on the type of massage, you may have work done on your muscles, joints, nerves, and/or the layers of connective tissue deep below your skin. A few examples of massage techniques include deep tissue massage, trigger-point therapy, and neuromuscular therapy.

Massage can cause a number of beneficial effects to these tissues that can help with sciatica including:

  • Loosen and relax muscles. When your core and lower back muscles are tense, they can press on the sciatic nerve roots on either side of your lower back. Tight muscles can also become knotted up into small painful nodules that cause trigger point pain. Massage therapy can lengthen, loosen, and stretch the affected muscles, which alleviates pain and improves function in your lower back and legs.
  • Increased circulation of healing nutrients. Soft tissue manipulation during a massage can boost circulation by stimulating the blood vessels in your skin and deeper tissues. This helps blood, oxygen, and other nutrients to flow freely to the problem areas in your body, promoting healing.
  • Endorphin release. Massage excites specific pressure receptors in your brain. Stimulation of these pressure receptor nerve fibers assists to minimize discomfort by releasing endorphins. Those natural feel-good hormones and painkillers.
  • Lessen stress. Pressure receptor stimulation also helps to minimize the levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol, as you may know, is the hormone that causes stress. Lower stress levels help to provide a feeling of relaxation and relief, and this can cause a diminished perception of pain.

In addition to these physical benefits massage has also been known to improve mood and your emotional state, which in turn can help you to deal with or experience less pain. Relaxation is a powerful thing when it comes to dealing with pain, and it can also help you to sleep better, which of course also helps you to deal with pain as you are well-rested.

Massages are typically very safe when enjoying a massage chair, but there are some things to be aware of if this is your first time using a massage chair. You can read more about getting used to a massage here.

What’s the Best Type of Massage for Sciatica?

There are several types of massage and several that can be found in one massage chair. There isn’t much data available that might suggest that one type is more beneficial for sciatica pain than another because they are so tied to personal preference. Choosing the best type of massage will come down to what you believe will work best for your needs. Here’s a look at some of the most common types that you’ll find in most chairs today.

Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage is just what it sounds like. It’s a type of massage that works deep to access tissues further down and not right at the surface. It can be very aggressive for some because of that fact. It uses slow strokes and deep pressure to release tension from your muscles and connective tissues.

A clinical study performed in 2014 indicated that a 30-minute deep tissue massage session performed five days a week over two weeks was effective for treating lower back pain, including sciatica.

Swedish massage

Swedish massage typically does not apply as much pressure as deep tissue massage. Instead kneading movements are used to stimulate nerve endings in your connective tissue and increase blood flow. It’s good for general tension release and relaxation. This is the most common type found in a chair and is often called kneading or Swedish massage.

Compression massage

Compression massage uses advanced air cells placed through the chair to manipulate, stretch, and knead certain areas of the body that the rollers can’t reach. It’s often found in the arms, legs, and most importantly in this case, the hip area of the chair.

Myofascial release

Myofascial release is used to relieve pain that occurs within your myofascial tissues, the tough membrane that surrounds and supports your muscles, as a result of trigger points. Trigger points are stiff, immovable areas, often called knots, within the myofascial tissues. They can cause pain and stiffness. Focused pressure and stretching on trigger points can assist to reduce pain and stiffness. To access these points during your own massage, you can set a chair to focus on a particular area of concern like your lower back where the knot might be pinching your sciatic nerve.

The Bottom Line

Massage for sciatica can’t un-pinch a nerve or stop the underlying cause of your pain, but it can help to relieve your symptoms and increase your quality of life. As you work with your physician to deal with the underlying cause, massage can be a fantastic way to find everyday relief. And, it can help to heal as you treat that cause.

Massage therapy offers a promising way to assist with reducing your sciatica pain through a combination of:

  • Relaxing tight muscles
  • Boosting circulation
  • Reducing stress
  • Create a better environment for healing

Massage therapy is a frequently overlooked treatment for sciatic pain, but thanks to the joy of owning a massage chair you can achieve those benefits and so many more on a regular basis.

Finding the Right Massage Chair

Therapeutic massages are best when you invest in a high-quality massage chair manufactured by a trusted brand that is dedicated to health and wellness. You can enjoy a relaxation massage right in your home when you have one available, but choosing one for you will be based on your specific needs and budget.

Here are a few pointers to help you identify the right type of massage chair for your sciatica pain:

  • Identify your goals. Figure out what you want to achieve prior to beginning your search for a massage chair. For example, if you want to relieve lower back tension, look for an L-Track massage chair that can reach further down your spine to your lower back and glutes. If your goal is simply to relax and get a light massage, you can focus on chairs that come with built-in relaxation or Swedish massage programs.
  • Consult with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to suggest the best type of massage for your unique needs and let you know what would be best to avoid. If you have specific health conditions, such as high blood pressure or neuropathy in your leg, a doctor will be able to let you know if massage is a safe option for your sciatica pain.
  • For people who have difficulty with mobility or driving, an in-home massage chair can make even getting a massage at all possible. And with the newest developments in chairs, there are ever some available that provide doors for the easiest seating possible. 
  • Look at the other features available in the chair. Are these things you’re interested in? If not, you may be able to look at a less expensive model that can still suit your needs. However, if you want to truly maximize your benefits you can look into massage chairs that also offer things like Bluetooth speakers, zero-gravity, and charging stations for your smart devices.

Finished With Your Research?

You can look into the chairs, techniques, and other benefits of massage in the Learning Center on our website, and you’ll be able to see the physical benefits each of the styles offered and what to be prepared for from them. 

If you have any questions or are interested in purchasing your first massage chair, check out our Massage Chair Buying Guide or give us a call. You can even reach out through email at

With all this in mind, don’t forget about our financing options. We understand that investing in a massage chair is a big decision, and we want to help make that process as simple and stress-free as possible. Our sales representatives are ready and excited to get you into the perfect chair!


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