Foam Rolling to Overcome Sciatica

By Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC

Las Vegas Informer

Use the foam roller as a tool to help eliminate the source and lessen the symptoms of sciatica. Foam roll the piriformis muscle to decrease tension and lessen nerve impingement.

The foam roller is a cylindrical piece of hard foam. The foam roller is a piece of rehabilitation equipment that reduces muscle tightness and expedites recovery. It is available in several lengths and densities,

Anatomy: The piriformis muscle is a posterior hip muscle. It runs across the upper aspect of the buttocks and functions to rotate the leg outward. The sciatic nerve travels directly underneath the piriformis muscle.

Sciatica: Tightness in the piriformis muscle is a chief contributing factor for the occurrence of sciatica. Sciatica originating from over tightness or spasm of the piriformis muscle is called piriformis syndrome. A taut piriformis muscle places pressure on the sciatic nerve. The result is pain and symptoms beginning in the gluteal region that travels into the leg. Symptoms can go as far as the big toe. Symptoms of sciatica include sharp shooting, shock-like pain, numbness, tingling and weakness.

Foam Rolling: Lessen tautness in the piriformis muscle to prevent and manage sciatica. For optimum results emphasize the piriformis while also working the surrounding muscles. Foam roll the lumbar spine, iliotibial band, gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, hamstrings and hip flexors along with the piriformis. These structures function in conjunction with the piriformis.

If you have a history of nerve damage in your lower spine, glutes, hips or thighs do not use the foam roller for piriformis syndrome.

Place the foam roller on a level surface. Begin with very mild pressure. Learn the motion and get the feel of the movement before increasing pressure. Control the amount of pressure by raising or lowering your body over the foam roller. The amount of bodyweight you use either increases or decreases the pressure you exert. If sciatica symptoms increase while foam rolling lighten the pressure.

To work the right piriformis muscle, sit on the foam roller with the right side of your buttocks resting on it. Using light pressure slowly slide over the roller. Hold a tender spot for six seconds then proceed to the next tender area. Slowly work the entire muscle with precision and intent. When completed switch to the opposite side. Perform two or three repetitions on each side.

Combine foam roller with self massage and static stretching to increase effectiveness. Static stretching executed after foam rolling further decreases tension. Athletes, especially runners, should employ foam rolling in their post workout recovery phase and rest day activities to reduce muscle tension and lower injury risk.

Sciatica can be quite debilitating. Piriformis syndrome is common among runners. Prevent the occurrence or worsening of sciatica by eliminating the source. Utilize the foam roller to lessen muscle tension in the lower back, hips, thighs and especially the piriformis muscle to overcome sciatica.

Dr_Donald_A_Ozello_thumb_medium150_Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is the owner and treating doctor at Championship Chiropractic. 6445 S. Tenaya Way, Suite #120, Las Vegas, NV 89113.  His web address is He can be contacted at (702) 286-9040 and

Dr. Donald A. Ozello’s mission is to educate and inspire others to live healthier, fitter, more functional lives.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC proudly handles Standard Process Supplements and Foot Levelers Orthotics.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC writes a weekly health, fitness and nutrition column for the Las Vegas Informer. His is published in OnFitness and . He has educational health, fitness and nutritional videos on Informer TV and

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is an award-winning public speaker. He has spoken to numerous groups on the importance of health, fitness, exercise, ergonomics, nutrition and injury prevention.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is a fitness enthusiast. Functional kettlebell training, running and bike riding are his favorite types of exercise.

Before pursuing his career in Chiropractic, Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC served in the United States Navy aboard the USS Bremerton, SSN 698.

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One Response to Foam Rolling to Overcome Sciatica

  1. I used to have all my clients roll on a foam roller only to learn that If you have a mechanical movement loss or stiffness in your lower back your problem isn’t the piriformis. Get a MDT assessment first to find the true cause of your problem. Piriformis syndrome is rare and can never be accompanied by a lower back pain or movement loss. To find out what you have, see a certified or diploma therapist trained in MDT. to find a clinician near you.

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