Updated: Apr 2
Acupressure points for relieving sciatica
Acupressure is acupuncture without needles
What is Acupressure?
The role of acupressure in promoting health and wellbeing has been practiced in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for more than 2000 years.
Acupressure is essentially a method of sending a signal to the body to 'turn on' its own self-healing or regulatory mechanisms. Normally, Qi (vital energy) circulates through the body's meridian pathways. Blockage of this flow or an imbalance can cause illness and pain.
Acupressure helps to correct functional imbalances and restore the flow thus returning the body to a more natural state of well-being. Acupressure works by targeting specific points around the body on the meridian lines with light to medium pressure, usually applied by fingers or hand.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is pain due to irritation and/or impingement of the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve (shown in blue on the diagram) comes out from the lumbar/sacral region of the spinal cord and passes through the buttocks (glutes) and down the leg.
Referred pain from sciatica can be experienced from the lower back, in the buttocks (glutes) and down the leg, into the foot (shown in red on the diagram).
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or impinged. Two common causes of sciatica are disc degeneration and piriformis syndrome.
The piriformis muscle (illustrated in above diagram) attaches the sacrum to the hip deep below the glute muscles. The sciatic nerve runs underneath the piriformis muscle.
Piriformis syndrome develops when muscle spasms develop in the piriformis muscle thereby compressing the sciatic nerve.
Using Acupressure to relieve sciatic pain.
The location of certain meridians in Traditional Chinese medicine follow the pathway of the sciatic nerve. Acupressure and massage to these meridians and acupoints can help ease sciatic pain.
As we mentioned above, Meridians are pathways for the flow of energy, called Qi (“chee”). Meridians cover the entire body. If the flow of energy (Qi) is blocked for a long period of time in a meridian, we can experience pain. The pain from blocked energy can range from mild to severe. Working with and balancing the meridians that mirror the location of the sciatic nerve and/or the areas of referred pain from sciatica can be effective in many cases in providing relief.
The Bladder meridian and Gallbladder meridian can be used to relieve sciatica. These meridians are located in the same area as the sciatic nerve and the main pain referral areas of sciatica (see diagrams below)
Acupressure points are specific locations on the meridians that are used to affect the flow of energy.
By applying pressure and massaging acupressure points we can get the energy (Qi) flowing freely again. When the energy flows, the pain dissipates.
Acupressure points are named according to the meridian they are located on. For instance “BL23” refers to the acupressure point Bladder 23.
Below are three Awesome Acupressure points, that can be used to help relieve pain associated with sciatica and piriformis syndrome (back, buttock, hip, leg, foot).
Bladder 23 (BL23) An effective point for sciatica pain or lower backache through injury, illness or poor posture. The point is at waist height on the back, either side of the spine.
Good initial point to start relieving tension through the lower back.
BL23 - Sciatica and low back tension
Firmly apply pressure into the points with your thumbs. Feel for tension on either side of the spine by firmly rubbing to find the tightest spot. Then continue deep pressure (looking for a 'good hurt' feeling) whilst breathing deeply for a couple of minutes.
If you have more tension on one side, which is common, then hold that side a couple minutes longer, as you take deep breaths.
Gallbladder 30 (GB30) is a common point used to work with pain caused by sciatica, general lower back pain or hip spasms and muscle pain.
The location of this point is one-third of the way between the hip and the sacrum on the outside of the buttock.
GB30 - Sciatic pain and piriformis syndrome
GB30 is located deep under the glute muscles and is one of the best points for the treatment of sciatic pain and piriformis syndrome.
As we noted above the piriformis muscle is also located deep below the glute muscles, sitting above the sciatic nerve. Piriformis syndrome can develop when muscle spasms develop in the piriformis muscle thereby compressing the sciatic nerve.
When you work with GB30, you can encourage the piriformis muscle to relax and thus reduce impingement of the sciatic nerve.
Apply firm pressure into these points (focus on the side experiencing referred sciatic pain) for 1 - 3 minutes. Using a tennis ball or spiky ball can be very effective in 'getting in' to this point. It's one of those points you will feel when you find it... it hurts!... but it's that good hurt feeling... And it works!
Bladder 54 (BL54) This point is located in the centre of the back of the knee crease. It is another useful point for pain caused by sciatica and arthritis or for controlling spasms in the muscles and stiffness in the lower back, knees and legs.
BL54 - Sciatica and Arthritis pain
Use firm pressure on BL54 (thumbs tend to work well for getting into this point). Again, you might focus on the side experiencing the referred sciatic pain.
Prefer a practical demonstration and explanation, below is the link to the FB Live video recording that takes you through the 3 point acupressure routine for relieving pain associated with sciatica and piriformis syndrome.
Acupressure can be safely and effectively used to assist with the following:
Acute and Chronic pain
Immune System Support
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