The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, and sciatic pain is a serious health problem that must be addressed in time, as it leads to debilitating pain, numbness, and tingling along this nerve. The most common causes of this health problem include narrowing of the spinal canal, pinched nerve, a herniated disc, or degenerative disc disease. But did you know that a tennis ball can be one of the most effective tools to help you relieve sciatica?

What is sciatica

Sciatica is a term that describes symptoms of pain, numbness, and / or weakness that radiate along the sciatic nerve from the lower back to the buttocks and leg. The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy .

The vast majority of sciatica symptoms are the result of lower back disorders between L4 and S1 levels that put pressure on or irritate the lumbar nerve root. Symptoms of sciatica are usually felt only on one side of the body.

They can include a combination of leg and foot pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness. Sciatica pain is often described as burning or sharp, rather than painful or throbbing. Depending on where the sciatic nerve roots are compressed, symptoms can be felt in different areas of the leg and in the foot.

Because pain relievers only relieve these symptoms, you must first treat their cause, and yoga and stretching exercises have been confirmed to be among the most effective methods of doing so. However, there are other tools that you can use to treat sciatica pain and among them is a tennis ball .

Tennis ball therapy for sciatica relief

Massaging the muscles with the help of a tennis ball is a simple technique that reduces tension in the muscles and relieves pain. In this way, blood flow improves and the necessary nutrients reach the affected area. Here is everything you need to do:

Tennis ball therapy incorporates the benefits of massage, acupressure, and reflexology. Using tennis ball therapy can help relieve muscle tension and soothe sore muscles. When it comes to sciatic pain, the tennis ball targets your piriformis muscle, which is very close to your sciatic nerve.

During massage, the tennis ball presses and treats trigger points in the piriformis muscle, reduces muscle tension and stiffness, improves mobility, and improves blood circulation to the area.

The weight of your body on the small tennis ball allows it to directly identify certain sections of your muscles. By pressing on this pain point, the muscle relaxes and is released. It can be a mildly painful but rewarding process. It’s like when you get a shoulder massage and you cringe because it hurts so good.

The best part about tennis ball therapy, aside from pain relief, is that it is inexpensive, easy, and can be done from the comfort of your home.

Now, before continuing, remember that before diagnosing yourself, doing any exercise, or trying any treatment, always check with your doctor. When authorized by your doctor or physical therapist, tennis ball massage can be very beneficial in helping you heal your sciatic pain .


How to use tennis ball massage to relieve sciatica pain

Grab a tennis ball (or two) and prepare for some relief. Here are some simple steps to using a tennis ball to massage sciatica pain:

  1. Lie on the floor and place the tennis ball under the gluteal muscle (buttocks) where you experience pain.
  2. Raise the same leg in the air so that your other leg, arms, and back support you on the floor.
  3. Begin sliding your glute on the tennis ball slowly and steadily.
  4. If you feel a sore spot, pause for a few seconds, let the pain release, and then continue rolling.

Keep in mind that if you feel a sore spot, the pain shouldn’t be too bad. If it feels strong or unbearable, adjust the ball or add more balls to remove that direct pressure from a single ball.

You will need to compress each pain point you find for 10-15 seconds before moving on to the next point. Another option is to just gently roll back and forth over the top of the pain area.

If you want to see a live demo in action, you can find many YouTube videos on tennis ball massage. There are many personal trainers out there willing to spread advice on this topic.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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