Don't 'Roll Out' Your Sciatic Nerve

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Don't 'Roll Out' Your Sciatic Nerve | Week 64 | Movement Fix Monday

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is the use of a lacrosse ball, tennis ball, or other type of rolling apparatus to 'release' trigger points in certain specific areas, but when those self-identified 'trigger points' are actually just you pushing on a nerve. Where you use a ball and making sure you aren't actually pressing on a nerve is important.

One example of this that I see happening relatively frequently is people identifying a 'trigger point' in their glute region and then sitting on their trigger point ball to 'release' it. The problem is, sometimes you could be just pushing the ball through the glutes and into the sciatic nerve and compressing it. This can be felt as pain and misidentified as something 'tight' that needs to be rolled out.

It's important to note that in the back of the hip/gluteal area, just mid-line to and above your 'butt bone/sits bones' is right where the sciatic nerve runs out of your pelvis and down into your leg (watch the video for a visual). The sciatic nerve is big, too. It isn't this little tiny string. It is a big, fat nerve. It's covered by some big muscles, so it's relatively protected, but if you sit on a ball and try to relax your muscles to get down to the 'deeper layers', you can end up just pushing in to your nerve and compressing it.

The frequent response is when someone sits on the tender spot and their glutes reflexively contract, essentially pushing them off this pressure. I think that's their body's way of saying 'don't push here'.

Now the area where the nerve lies isn't the whole hip or the whole gluteal region. It is only so big. There are many places you could roll where you aren't on or near the sciatic nerve, so I am not saying don't roll. I'm saying consider the anatomy of the area before you put your bodyweight onto a hard rubber ball for several minutes at a time.

It may be a bit more prudent to roll out that area with a foam roller so you get more blunt pressure vs pinpoint from a ball due to smaller contact points.

Some things to consider for working this area instead of rolling:

Sciatic nerve tensioner: https://themovementfix.com/how-to-gently-floss-the-sciatic-nerve/

Hip control: https://themovementfix.com/assessing-closed-chain-hip-control/

Thanks for reading,

-Ryan

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