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Help with Sciatica

I seem to be having some trouble with Sciatica (Lower back pain coupled with shooting pains down your leg(s)).

This is the 4th time this has happened to me and I’d like to know if there is a way to prevent this. The last time it happened I took a week out and returned as though nothing had ever happened (no loss in strength etc.) so there doesn’t seem to be any lasting damage.

Here’s how it happened this time round. My first exercise was Deadlifts and my lower back was extremely fatigued, I moved onto Barbell Hack Squats and at the top of my first rep I felt the sensation of something moving in my lower back. I abandoned the session immediately and needless to say I woke the next day with Sciatica symptoms. It’s already starting to ease up, but I don’t want to ignore it just to find out one day that it’s too late.

The only thing I can think of is maybe the fatigue in my lower back compromised my ability to tighten up properly but I would welcome any thoughts or suggestions from you.

The routine isn’t anything new to me, but of course I add a little weight to the bar each session if earned.

I’d like to hear what anybody has done with this as well. I’ve got a tinge of it through my left butt cheek and the back of the leg. Not bad and doesn’t hinder my training, more an annoyance. Sounds like yours is more acute.

#1 you can go to a podiatrist. Many cases of sciatica originate from something with the feet (fallen arches, over/under pronation etc.)
#2 you can check with a chiro, especially for pressure in the L5-S1 regions, which bears a lot of the brunt in terms of pressure on the back, and can causes referal symptoms to the glutes, quads and down to the knee (via sciatic nerve through ITB)

With me, I used to have it quite accutely and it affected the lower right-hand side of the back, buttock, and down the quad to the back of the knee. A few chiro sessions and in-steps and I feel better than ever…sciatica gone.

X

Ice the area. Rest is usually recommended, but I think being active(walking or some activity would be appropriate) and moving around is your best cure for sciatica. If it gets worse, see a doctor.

Between heavy sets of any lower body exercise, try and hang from a bar for 15-20 sec with your knees up to your chest to decompress the spine. This seems to work well for me and has eliminated a lot of my pains.

As always, perform what you can WITHOUT pain!!!

I suffered the symptoms once.

I found in my case that a lot of it had to do with tightness in the lower back and hips.

How I treated it was:

  1. rest
  2. massage
  3. chiro
  4. lots of stretching - the MAGNIFICENT MOBILITY stretches help a lot and I now use them always
  5. I got a product called a lumbar extender which stretches the spinal vertebrae especially in the lower back.

the other product which may be of benefit is an inversion table

Good timing on this question. This could be the same thing I have been experiencing.

To the OP, I hope you don’t mind me asking about this as it pertains to me.

I’ve been tempted to ask myself but didn’t really know how to describe the pain/discomfort.

Could someone please tell me if the “pain” of what you are experiencing is felt during the exercise or while at rest?

It’s weird to me b/c it does not hurt while squating or deadlifting but hurts when getting up out of a chair. Pain is in left Glute and lower back.

Any input would be appreciated.

I know everyone here seem to love deadlifts but if I were you I’d give them, squats and any other heavy spine load lift a miss for a few weeks. I’d also get myself to a chiro NOW.

You only have one spine.

My father has had sciatica for a long time. He gets steroids shot into his lower back every two months and he’s pain free after.

Sorry this reply is long, but I want to be detailed.

I have bachelor of science in sports medicine and a doctorate in physical therapy. I currently specialize in treating orthopedic and sports related injuries from the amateur to the professional athlete, as well as the every day average joe. Having said that, the following is only my opinion and not medical advice being that I have not evaluated you and I am not your health care provider (have to say that for legal reasons).

First of all based on your description of the mechanism of injury and coinciding symptoms you have done one of two things: 1) strained a intrinsic (stabilizing) muscle in your lumbar spine which is now inflamed and putting pressure on one of your lumbar nerve roots. 2) injured a lumbar disc which is now either bulging or herniated and again putting pressure on one of your lumbar nerve roots.

Pressure on the nerve root is what is causing the pain to shoot down your leg, and until this pressure is removed your pain and discomfort will not subside.

As for how to deal with this injury.

  1. Rest, give yourself 1-3 days of inactivity/rest to let things settle down.

  2. Ice your low back 2-3x/day for 20-30 minutes each time to calm inflammation.

  3. Take anti-inflammatories (Ibuprofen
    or Naproxen) 2x/day for 7-10 days, again to calm inflammation. Legal statement: Check with your doctor before taking any medications.

4)Perform GENTLE, PAINFREE low back, and leg stretches.

5)If symptoms DO NOT subside in 3 days make an appointment with your doctor, preferably an orthopedic specialist and get them to prescribe physical therapy. They also may need to have an MRI done to diagnose disc pathology (x-ray will not see this). If disc issue is present or severe pain persists doctor may give you an epidural (shot in spine to block pain and reduce inflammation).

Many people have suggested that you see a chiropractor. I have nothing against chiropractors, they definitely have their place. But getting an adjustment when there is a possible disc issue is simply not a good idea. Your need to relieve pressure in the area, calm inflamation, and strengthen the weak stabilization muscle in your spine in order to prevent reoccurrence of this condition. The movement you felt in your back was likely one of your vertabrae moving due to fatigue/weakness of associated stabilizing muscles (specifically your multifidae).

And by the way DEFINITELY DO NOT SEE A PODIATRIST, this has nothing to do with your feet.

Hope this helped. If you have any more questions let me know. Good luck

1)if pain persists, see a professional
2) get a tennis ball and roll the piss out of your hip rotators. along the line where your upper part of your jeans pocket would be.
3) learn how to stretch the external hip rotators
4) start bridging for time, after the stuff is completely rolled out and stretched out. The little muscles of the back, the multifidi, gain strength real easy. post injury, regaining the endurance is more beneficial.

Thanks for all the responses. Luckily it’s almost subsided, I can nearly touch my toes without pain (normally this isn’t a problem) which is a vast improvement from a few days ago.

Although I do use a foam roller and use dynamic stretches prior to workouts followed by static stretches after, I know could do more in this respect, maybe this is my opportunity.

As for seeing a Chiropractor is it worth going to a specialist when you are no longer suffering the symptoms?

Thanks again.

[quote]Dr. PT wrote:
As for how to deal with this injury.

  1. Rest, give yourself 1-3 days of inactivity/rest to let things settle down.

  2. Ice your low back 2-3x/day for 20-30 minutes each time to calm inflammation.

  3. Take anti-inflammatories (Ibuprofen
    or Naproxen) 2x/day for 7-10 days, again to calm inflammation. Legal statement: Check with your doctor before taking any medications.

4)Perform GENTLE, PAINFREE low back, and leg stretches.

Many people have suggested that you see a chiropractor. I have nothing against chiropractors, they definitely have their place. But getting an adjustment when there is a possible disc issue is simply not a good idea. Your need to relieve pressure in the area, calm inflamation, and strengthen the weak stabilization muscle in your spine in order to prevent reoccurrence of this condition. The movement you felt in your back was likely one of your vertabrae moving due to fatigue/weakness of associated stabilizing muscles (specifically your multifidae).

[/quote]

Thanks for the detailed response, much appreciated. I have been using an Ibuprofen based gel and it seems to be doing the trick. I was going to do the chest session I missed yesterday tomorrow but I think I’ll give it another couple of days to play it safe.

You mention strengthening my stabilizing muscles, any suggestions in regards to exercise selection? The exercises I currently perform which I would class as lower back intensive are Deadlift, Squats & Good Mornings though I recognise it plays a significant role in other exercises (Rows, Lunges, Military Press etc.)

[quote]new2training wrote:
Good timing on this question. This could be the same thing I have been experiencing.

To the OP, I hope you don’t mind me asking about this as it pertains to me.

I’ve been tempted to ask myself but didn’t really know how to describe the pain/discomfort.

Could someone please tell me if the “pain” of what you are experiencing is felt during the exercise or while at rest?

It’s weird to me b/c it does not hurt while squating or deadlifting but hurts when getting up out of a chair. Pain is in left Glute and lower back.

Any input would be appreciated.
[/quote]

Yes I do mind, all the answers in this thread are for me, me , ME!!! j/k:)

Personally with the pain that I have had, when it was hurting it hurt all the time (except when I was lying down). But the shooting pains down my leg were worst when seated.

Those exercises are all excellent for strengthening what are called gross musculature or global muscles, but they do not isolate your intrisics. What happens when you do those heavy lifting exercises is your larger/global muscle do all the work and the small stabilizers do not get stressed as much. Therefore you are not building the endurance of those muscles.

The exercises that help strengthing your intrinsics are tedious and not very exciting, but they work.
An example would be using a physio/plyo ball (don’t know what you call it in England, large ball with air in it) lie on it in the prone position with the center of the ball at your belly button.

Keep your core muscles tight and lift opposite arm and leg of the ground. Important to lift and lower slowly, keep core (stomach) tight, and maintain good balance. Repeat 10-20 reps x switching arm and leg with each rep.
This is just an example, there are countless exercises that can be done on the ball. Just do a web search and you will find them with pictures.

But remember most of these exercises seem boring to a heavy lifter, but they work and should be done 1-3x/week. A 10-15 minute routine should suffice.
Next time I’m at work I’ll look for some websites that I have saved and post them for you.
Hope that helps

[quote]Dr. PT wrote:
Those exercises are all excellent for strengthening what are called gross musculature or global muscles, but they do not isolate your intrisics. What happens when you do those heavy lifting exercises is your larger/global muscle do all the work and the small stabilizers do not get stressed as much. Therefore you are not building the endurance of those muscles.

The exercises that help strengthing your intrinsics are tedious and not very exciting, but they work.
An example would be using a physio/plyo ball (don’t know what you call it in England, large ball with air in it) lie on it in the prone position with the center of the ball at your belly button.

Keep your core muscles tight and lift opposite arm and leg of the ground. Important to lift and lower slowly, keep core (stomach) tight, and maintain good balance. Repeat 10-20 reps x switching arm and leg with each rep.
This is just an example, there are countless exercises that can be done on the ball. Just do a web search and you will find them with pictures.

But remember most of these exercises seem boring to a heavy lifter, but they work and should be done 1-3x/week. A 10-15 minute routine should suffice.
Next time I’m at work I’ll look for some websites that I have saved and post them for you.
Hope that helps[/quote]

Thanks for the advice, I already own a ball so I’ll have to do some research to build a drill.

[quote]

Yes I do mind, all the answers in this thread are for me, me , ME!!! j/k:)

Personally with the pain that I have had, when it was hurting it hurt all the time (except when I was lying down). But the shooting pains down my leg were worst when seated.[/quote]

lol

Thanks for humoring me and thanks for the information.

Good Training

Supine planks(unilateral and bilateral), bird dogs, fire hydrants, donkey kicks, back extensions (NOT hyperextensions) would all help with low back strengthening.

Be sure that you’re also getting your hips loose and mobile before heavy deads or squats. Leg swings, kicks, spiderman crawls, side shuffle, lunges, in addition to the above exercises would help. 10 minutes worth of warm up and dynamic stretching can really go a long way.

Periformis stretching would probably help too. If the periformis is tight or inflamed, it’ll put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Sit on a chair, and put your right ankle on your left knee. Gently pull your right knee towards your left shoulder until you feel a stretch. Repeat for the other side.

[quote]Steve-O-68 wrote:
Periformis stretching would probably help too. If the periformis is tight or inflamed, it’ll put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Sit on a chair, and put your right ankle on your left knee. Gently pull your right knee towards your left shoulder until you feel a stretch. Repeat for the other side. [/quote]

Thanks for both of your posts. It’s funny but the most painful thing I can do when the pain is at it’s worst is putting on socks, which I do by putting my ankle on the opposite knee while sitting (sounds like the stretch you’ve recommended).

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