Can Acupressure Help Sciatica?
Watch the video to learn the 5 best pressure points for sciatica relief plus self-acupressure for sciatica that you can use to start relieving your pain today.
What Are The Best Pressure Points For Sciatica Relief?
The pressure points for sciatica treatment largely run along two different meridians:
What are meridians?
Meridians as described in traditional acupuncture are energy flow lines in the body. Life energy, or Qi, flows along the meridians which much like meridians on a map, run generally from head to toe.
A blockage in the flowing of Qi is believed to cause health issues.
This acupressure map, the purple line that you see running down the back of the leg is the Bladder Meridian.
The Bladder Meridian lines up actually pretty well with the course of the sciatic nerve.
The other meridian related to sciatica is the Gallbladder Meridian, which is the green line running down the outside of the leg on the map above.
Acupressure Points For Sciatica: East vs West
Now, if you think that acupressure or acupuncture and flowing of Qi sounds a bit weird as someone reading this from the Western world, that's understandable.
I used to think that myself.
However, let explain how eastern acupuncture or acupressure theory correlates with more of a Western Medical philosophy. That way, you can get a better understanding of these concepts before we get into the actual pressure points for sciatica.
After all, acupuncture has been around for thousands of years. So anything that's stood the test of time that long probably works... it's just a matter of understand why it works.
Acupressure Meridians and the Sciatic Nerve
If you look at the Bladder Meridian (purple line down the back of the leg) and the Gallbladder Meridian (green line along the side of the leg), they run pretty closely with the nerve pathways that make up the sciatic nerve.
You can see that as L5 nerve root that runs down the outside of the hip and down the outside of the leg into the top of the foot. That correlates pretty well with the Gallbladder Meridian.
The S1 dermatome that runs straight down the back of the leg and then into the outside of the foot, that correlates pretty well with the Bladder Meridian.
Additionally, at the back of the knee, you'll see that the Bladder Meridian kind splits.
Likewise, the sciatic nerve branches into a tibial and fibular (peroneal) branch at the back of the knee.
So when you think of Qi or "Life Energy", all your nerves do is conduct electrochemical signals from one place in your body to the other. Those are forms of energy
Without those signals flowing to and from your brain and your different body parts, you wouldn't be able to stay alive.
So whether you have an Eastern or Western medicine perspective, we're probably talking about the same things, just putting different words on it.
Now we've covered what meridians are and how acupressure theory works. Next, I want to go over the pressure points that are most commonly associated with sciatica.
Bladder Meridian Pressure Points For Sciatica Relief
First, we'll start on the Bladder Meridian.
Bladder 36 (BL-36)
The first bladder point that is associated with sciatica is the bladder 36 point. That's right at the crease of the buttock here. You'll see it right below the gluteal fold.
If you're putting pressure on that on your own, you don't want to be on the piriformis. Many people with sciatica make this mistake.
The piriformis is another little muscle that connects your pelvis to your hip. It over top of your sciatic nerve.
However, the Bladder 36 pressure point is actually down at the bottom of the pelvis right on the bone that you sit on when you're sitting in a chair.
Sitting on a tennis ball right at the base of your butt bone is a good way to treat the Bladder 36 pressure point. Remember, don't put the ball on your piriformis.
Bladder 40 (BL-40)
The next pressure point on the Bladder Meridian that we'll talk about is the bladder 40 point.
That's right in the soft spot behind your knee.
Your sciatic nerve is a little bit superficial here. This is right where it branches into the tibial nerve and the fibular nerve, and so you do want to be a little careful pressing back here too hard.
There's also a band that you can put on by TENEX called the Sciatica Relief Band.
It just has a little nodule that goes in the back of your knee. You put it on with that nodule right in the soft spot in the back of your knee and then strap it around.
It just applies gentle pressure. You don't want to get it too tight.
Make sure that nodule is right in the soft spot in the back of your knee over the Bladder 40 point.
Bladder 57 (BL-57)
The next bladder point that you'll use to help treat sciatica is the Bladder-57 pressure point. It's located right in the middle of the calf muscle.
To treat the Gallbladder 34 point, you can use a muscle massage stick on the back of your calves.
This is good for people with tight calves in general, so you don't have to be as specific with this technique. Just roll up and down your calves and focus on the places where you feel knots or sore spots.
If you are looking specifically for the Bladder 57 point, it's right in the middle portion of your calf
If you want to get a little more specific, you can use your fingers or the trigger point attachment of a massage gun and just apply a little pressure there for two to three minutes.
Gallbladder Meridian Pressure Points For Sciatica Relief
Next, we're going to move on to the Gallbladder Meridian.
Gallbladder 30 (GB-30)
The first pressure point for sciatica on the Gallbladder Meridian is the Gallbladder 30 point. It's the one right on the outer side of the hip / buttock.
It correlates pretty well with the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscle trigger points.
The X's in the diagram are the location of the trigger points, and the red areas are the referral patterns
To treat the Gallbladder 30 point, use a massage gun over the glueus medius and minimus for about two to three minutes.
Gallbladder 34 (GB-34)
The last pressure point we'll talk about is the Gallbladder 34 point. It's located right below the knee crease on the outside of the leg.
That's right where your two lower leg bones, the fibula and the tibia, join together.
That tibiofibular joint is where the fibular nerve splits into two branches. The superficial fibular nerve goes down the outer side of the leg and foot. The deep fibular nerve runs down deeper in your leg and innervates the top of your foot and the big toe.
Your fibular nerve is pretty superficial in that are, and it can be tender, especially if it's already irritated. Therefore, it's best to use gentle pressure point techniques in this area. For example, just apply a gentle pressure to the calf muscles over the pressure point for two to three minutes.
Hopefully you found these tips helpful to learn how to relieve your sciatica using pressure points.
Now, I will mention that if you do have sciatica, it is important to find out what's causing your sciatica.
Sciatica is NOT just one problem.
It can come from your back, it can come from your hip, or in other cases, it can come from more peripheral areas further down the course of the nerve.
If you live in St. Louis and need help for sciatica, tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialists.
And if you're locate outside, I have a Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain at Home Online Course.
You'll learn how to figure out what are the factors contributing to your sciatica, as well as some self-treatments that you can use to get it better.