Skip to content

Sciatica Massage: How Muscles Can Cause & Relieve Sciatica

Sciatic pain is a strange phenomenon. The root cause of sciatica is nerve compression - which causes the nerves running from the tailbone to the foot to activate and "feel" - but what causes nerve compression in the first place? One common source of nerve pain is muscle tension and trigger points. Here is what you can do about it.

Massage For Sciatic Pain

Sciatic Pain Pattern Referred By The Gluteus Minimus Muscle [1]


What Is Sciatic Pain?

Sciatica or Sciatic pain refers to the pattern of pain, numbness, or tingling shooting down the leg. Sciatic pain can be felt anywhere on the outside or back of the leg, occasionally all the way down to the foot. (Also read more on our page about the last stages of sciatica!)


Do Muscles Cause Your Sciatic Pain?

It can be, it is impossible to know at a glance. However, we like to start with muscles because the treatment can be as simple as a few sessions of massage - and massage is non-invasive, free or very low cost, and can be done right at home.

Piriformis Sciatic Pain Massage

Sciatic Pain Pattern Caused By The Piriformis Muscle [1]


Sciatic Pain Massage - Piriformis Nerve Compression

Sciatic Nerve Compression From The Piriformis Muscle [2]


Sciatica Massage For Pain Relief

Two muscles (Piriformis and Gluteus Minimus) tend to compress the sciatic nerve when they become tight and ridden with trigger points. Muscle tightness can result from various activities, but it often comes from performing a high-impact activity that you are not conditioned for. Sciatica muscle tightness can also arise from sedentary lifestyle habits with low attention paid to stretching and strengthening.

Sciatica Massage Muscle 1: Piriformis

The Piriformis muscle lies deep in the buttocks and is likely to compress the sciatic nerve when tight. There is a medical term for this - Piriformis Syndrome - where the Piriformis muscle causes sciatic pain symptoms due to tension, knotting, and/or trigger points.

Sciatica Massage Muscle 2: Gluteus Minimus

The Gluteus Minimus muscle is another deep buttock that can cause sciatic symptoms when tight. Gluteus Minimus trigger points can cause the pain pattern at the top of this page, radiating sciatic symptoms down the leg.

How To Use Sciatica Massage For Pain Relief:

To effectively sciatica massage, you want to make sure to target the Piriformis and Gluteus Minimus muscles directly. Just because the pain pattern is felt down the leg does NOT mean the source of the pain is down there, stay focused on these two glute muscles [2].


To apply massage to the Piriformis and Gluteus Minimus, you can have a trained physio or massage therapist get in there with their hands. This can be costly and inconvenient (not there right when you need it), so we like to recommend an at-home deep tissue massage tool like QL Claw. QL Claw provides the most targeted, deepest massage directly to Piriformis and Gluteus Minimus above all else we have found. Check out the links on how to massage your sciatica away by releasing the Piriformis and Gluteus Minimus muscles below:




Beyond Sciatica Massage

After the Piriformis and Gluteus Minimus are thoroughly massaged and the majority of sciatic symptoms are gone, stretching the muscles to lengthen their pressure on the sciatic nerve is very beneficial. The videos below have great  Gluteus Minimus stretches and Piriformis stretches respectively:


Sciatica Massage FAQ:

How To Massage Sciatica Trigger Points:

A physical therapist, massage therapist, or at-home tool like QL Claw can effectively massage sciatica trigger points. Check out our article How To Massage Sciatica Trigger Points for more.

Where To Massage For Sciatica:

The two glute muscles Piriformis and Gluteus Minimus. When these muscles are tight, they can compress the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica symptoms.

How To Massage Sciatica:

Target the tension, trigger points, and tight muscle tissue in the Piriformis and Gluteus Minimus muscles. You can use an at home tool or visit a professional.

Does Massage Help Sciatica?

Yes. Sciatica massage can potentially help with most, if not all, sciatica symptoms. Even if your sciatica is cause by nerve damage, there is likely muscular compression/guarding contributing to the symptoms and making matters worse.

Is Vibration Massage Or Massage Gun Good For Sciatica?

In my opinion, no. Vibration and massage guns use what is called "percussion massage" - a high-frequency impact. Percussion massage massage is great for increasing blood flow, shaking up acid and lymph in and around muscles, and workout recovery, but not for tension or trigger point release.

There is a chance vibration/percussion can cause your glute muscles to spasm and re-guard, so I would proceed with caution.



Now that you've read about sciatica massage, check out our page on how to get sciatica relief in 8 minutes and stretches for pinched nerve in lower back!



[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive emails every few days with back pain relief tips, testimonials, and resources