According to the National Institutes of health, up to 3 percent of the population suffer from sciatica. Sciatica is a condition where you feel a pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back, through your buttocks and down the side of each leg. While it can be very uncomfortable and debilitating, it is possible to treat sciatica with just a tennis ball.
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Sit down on the floor, and place a tennis ball under the glute muscle on the same side you're experiencing the sciatica. Raise this leg off the floor so that your weight is supported by the opposite leg, and your arms, which should be behind you. Roll your glute muscle over the tennis ball slowly and firmly, so that the ball makes contact with all areas of the muscle. If you reach a spot that is particularly tender or tight then pause for a count of 5 before moving on. Spend two minutes twice per day doing this.
Causes of Sciatica
There are a number of potential causes of sciatica, which can include spinal damage, herniated disks, and trauma wounds. However, one of the most common causes is piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a muscle that runs horizontally across the buttocks between the base of the spine and the thigh bone. Through poor posture, overuse, improper exercise technique, extended periods of sitting or a combination of these, the piriformis can become very tight, leading to it pressing down on the sciatic nerve, resulting in sciatic pain.
Why the Tennis Ball Works
This tennis ball method is known as Self Myofascial Release, which is a self massage technique. By putting pressure on the glute and piriformis muscles with the ball, you are releasing any knots and adhesions in the muscle that may be causing tightness, and thus relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve.
If you find that you can't apply enough pressure using a tennis ball, then a hockey ball or a lacrosse ball may be better for you, as both are denser than a tennis ball. Likewise if you feel that you are likely to burst a tennis ball, then use a denser ball. If you find it difficult to use the ball for this method, or the sciatic pain continues, then seek advice from a doctor, physiotherapist or sports masseur.