Sciatica Pain Relief Treatment: Foam Rollers

Introduction

I have a pain in the butt!  No, I’m not talking about that person you know that gives you grief and aggravation. I’m speaking about nerve pain in the buttocks. You too?  Hopefully I can provide information for sciatica pain relief treatment through the use of foam rollers.  

This article discusses using foam rollers for finding relief from your sciatica pain. While there are many articles about using foam rollers for workouts, there is not very much information on the efficacy of the use of foam rollers for pain. So I did my own research.

Sciatica Pain Relief Treatment: Foam Rollers
Foam Roller

My Story; Briefly

My problem is actually spinal stenosis which is different from sciatica. However, these recommendations can be helpful for either situation. If you experience pain in the buttock, in the calf, and even the foot, then you may be able to manage your pain with the use of a foam roller.

These were recommended for tightness in the tissue, and for what felt like knots in the area. My chiropractor recommended I use this for the pain in my buttock, and in my calf.

How To Use

The activity involves lying on a hard surface, usually the floor, with the foam roller under the body part that you are targeting. Then like the name implies, you use the foam roller to roll back and forth on that body part.

For a senior like myself, it isn’t easy to get up and down to the floor. But with my yoga stretches, which I do every day, I find I am more flexible and therefore able to get down and up. I just do it a little slower! So hopefully you are able to get on the floor to use your roller.

In this image, you see the roller placed under the lower leg area to relieve tightness in that area. The person is moving back and forth over the roller. This takes a bit of talent; balancing your leg over the device and moving your body to roll it. So you may need a bit of practice to do it correctly.

Sciatica Pain Relief Treatment: Foam Rollers
Roll Away Muscle Pain – Harvard Health

Also, notice the man is using his arms to support the body weight. Do this to take pressure off the area you are rolling in the event it is too painful. Also, it is better to not put too much pressure on any one area of your body.

How Long Should You Do It?

It is recommended to start with a short period of time, like 10 seconds. The you can slowly increase to up to a minute.

Although I was told to do this twice a day, my research says you should wait at least 24 hours to do it again. Apparently, the process works like a massage, and may release toxins into your tissue. Therefore, drink plenty of water afterwards. Which is a good practice anyway.

Research That Supports the Efficacy of Foam Rolling

I spent time researching what science says about using a foam roller. Most of the research is related to sports application. For instance, one of the abstracts reported on the use of foam rollers for athletes. The results, though using a small sample, showed that foam rolling did relieve pain in myofascial trigger points (MTrP).

Let’s back up here and discuss what MTrP is. Myofascial refers to pain caused by muscular discomfort. A trigger point is an area that is highly irritated. So even if you are not an athlete, you can still experience discomfort.

Here is the article from the National Institute of Health if you want to read the whole thing.

Another small study found that foam rolling delayed the onset of muscle soreness after exercise.

For other pain relief options, see my article about the HoMedics Hand Held Massager.

Warnings; Proper Use of Foam Rollers

Be very careful if you use it on your back. One website said not to do so at all. Because if you place it horizontally (your spine up and down; the roller side to side), you can arch your back too much and cause strain. Just what you need! More pain.

So if you do want to use it on your back, place it in line with the spine, or vertically. I myself would not begin to try this. It seems too difficult to do.

This video shows her doing her lower back, even though it is recommended you don’t do this. I do admit she didn’t arch her back and used it on the side, but still, be careful. I do like how she showed you how to loosen up other areas.

I recommend viewing some other YouTube videos to see different foam rollers. I picked a medium density one, because I think some pressure to the nerve helps, but you don’t want too much.  I welcome your comments and reviews regarding foam rollers. Your information would be helpful to all of us.

Another warning is to not use it on the outside of your thigh. That part of your leg is made up of huge Iliotibial band or IT band. It is not a muscle and therefore will not respond to the pressure of the roller. A nerve also runs through it, so you can inflict more pain by rolling. Just don’t do it.

Other areas where you shouldn’t use a roller are around joints like the knee, elbow and ankle.

This article from Healthline was very helpful. Read it for more information.

Purchasing

There are various densities of foam rollers; from low to firm. There are also smooth and textured. If you are just starting out, use a less firm and smooth roller. As you progress, you can change it up, depending on your needs.

Here is a link to foam rollers on eBay. If you purchase from them, I receive a small referral fee. I am recommending one as a beginner. But check out all the available rollers, and choose according to your needs. They run about $20.00 to $40.00 depending on size and density.

Conclusions

Although very little research exists to support the effectiveness of foam rolling, there are a few positive studies (see above). If you decided to try it; talk with your pain doctor first. Make sure you know how to use it safely. And how to do the activity correctly. Although there isn’t much chance of you making things worse, you should still be guided by a professional.

Do a search for more videos of how to use a roller properly. Be specific in the area you want to treat. Be sure the person knows what they are talking about! Research, research, research!

I would love to hear your comments. Have you used a foam roller for pain? What were your results? If you have any questions please leave them below. I will do my best to get back to you.

Disclaimer

I am not a medical professional. I write about topics as they relate to my pain experience. Always consult with your physician before you try anything new.

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