Posts Tagged ‘Sciatica’

Sciatia and Stretching

Working on Your Sciatica With a Stretching Routine

Lots of the clients who come for back massage or sports massage in Ely Cambs are suffering from sciatica. So what exactly is sciatica? In simple terms if it is muscular then it is caused by one of your buttock muscles pressing on your sciatic nerve and irritating it which will send symptons down your leg.

If you have visited your GP and he thinks your problem is caused by compression of the nerve by muscle rather than a herniated disc then he may well have sent you away with a prescription for pain killers and you are not sure what you should be doing about this discomfort now.

Well firstly, if you keep living your life the way you have been living it, it’s pretty certain this won’t be the only episode of sciatica you suffer. You can’t change your job or your commute – unless you live quite close to work in which case you could get up a little earlier and walk it. What you can change is what you do with your body in your leisure time. Seek out a remedial massage therapist to give you some advice on your posture and how to correct it, some hands on physical therapy to ease the symptoms and advice about a sequence of stretching to loosen up your tight muscles.

Stretching and massage can help you to get you body back to functional balance. Even in people who exercise regularly muscles can become imbalanced. Some will become short and tight and will pull the skeleton in odd directions causing pinching and pain. Think about it , you have a big pile of letters, you need an elastic band on each end to secure all these letters but you have one short thick one and one long thin one. How is your pile of letters going to look when you have secured it? It’s going to look wonky! That is how your body will look with one tight muscle and one overstretched one, the tight one needs stretching to restore balance.

Fixing sciatica need not always be a major thing and seeing a remedial massage therapist could well help you make big changes to your life.

Treatment for lower back pain

Treatment for lower back pain.

Let’s talk about muscle pain today and because the most common type of muscle pain is lower back pain let’s make that todays area of focus.

Just about everyone suffers from lower back pain at some point. Modern life pretty much guarantees that. Even when we exercise regularly, the things we do to excess during the day contribute to our most important muscles malfunctioning. This results in lower back pain.

The most significant muscles governing locomotion and stability are the glutes. The tight sling of muscles we all know as the buttocks.  Yet every working day in Ely, Cambs I can be almost certain that I will see at least one patient with problematic glutes complaining of lower back pain, usually more than one.
The glutes are central to the posterior chain. It is vital for them to work efficiently otherwise other muscles are recruited to do their job. The whole body then loses strength and balance and lower back pain can develop as a consequence.

So, you’re one of the good guys. You get up early to get to the gym before work. Excellent. Then you spend an hour sitting on your glutes on your commute to work. Not so good. You get to work and spend most of your day sitting in meetings, at your computer or on the edge of someone else’s desk with your body contorted at a strange angle whilst you exchange ideas. Bad. Then another commute before later, worn out, collapsing in front of the TV, very bad. It gives me lower back pain to just contemplate a day like this.

All that sitting overstretches the glutes. They get used to being lengthened for excessive periods. So much so that the muscle spindles re-set themselves in the lengthened position, so that when you stand up and ask them to work they simply don’t have enough tension in them to do the job they are supposed to do. The result of this lack of support from the glutes is often lower back pain and over tightened hip extensors which causes hip pain too.

So what can you do about it, you can’t give up work and it’s a pretty long cycle ride to get there. The answer is to re-balance the central stabilisers with stretching, exercise and massage.
How do you know if your glutes are weak? The quickest way to tell is to stand sideways to a full length mirror. Do you have a flat rear? It may look small  and neat but chances are if it doesn’t protrude much further than the line of your back, then your glutes are lacking tone. Does your pelvis tip forward slightly? Do you get low back pain? Time to do some work on your deep muscles.

Your first port of call should be your doctor to ensure that there is nothing amiss. If he or she says you are ok then you can start working on your recovery. When I see a patient we look at ways of putting this into action and work towards getting back to a body which is mobile and pain free.

Sciatica

Treament and stretches for sciatica pain

Even fit people suffer from low back pain. If you are a runner you may still have the muscular problems associated with the pain of sciatica, Especially if you run to counterbalance a fairly sedentary working life.

Many people consider they are doing everything right because they are at least exercising regularly but if I ask patients who come to my practice in Ely Cambs for massage whether they stretch regularly and effectively the response is usually a wry grin.

It’s great to put in place massage to help with the recovery of your muscles, at least monthly but more if time and money allows. Without stretching too you are doing yourself a disservice. The hip rotator muscles work very hard whilst you are pounding the streets,this can lead to problems with the piriformis and commonly the tensor fascia lata. tightness in both these muscles leads to deep hip pain. Trigger points in the piriformis are very common and problems with this muscle are very often associated with sciatic pain.

Even if you don’t run, using the legs uses these same muscles so walking a distance which is unusual for you and then returning to sitting for long periods can also cause sciatic pain. I would also add here that it is beneficial to keep your weight within a healthy range. Extra stresses and strains placed on muscles by carrying more load than they are meant to will eventually cause problems even when doing normal day to day activities.

A good set of stretches for runners can be found at www.runnersworld.co.uk/quicklinks/stretching

Can massage help sciatic pain?

Can massage help sciatic pain?

Firstly you need to understand something of why you are suffering sciatic pain. Sciatica is caused when the sciatic nerve becomes irritated. There are a number of reasons why this can happen. A common one is caused by the piriformis pressing on the sciatic nerve.  In simple terms the job of the piriformis is to keep your hip neatly in place in its socket. If you run, walk a lot, spend hours sitting or driving your car, play golf, are a woman over 40, stand with your weight on one hip, are currently pregnant – the list goes on, then you are stressing your piriformis, it will become inflamed and press on your sciatic nerve causing sciatic pain, hence sciatica.

Equally problems with your lower back will irritate the sciatic nerve. This type of sciatica will often be accompanied by lower back pain. Properly known as radiculopathy, sciatica following the path of a spinal nerve root may be caused by damage to a disc.Therefore it is important to consult your doctor first because a doctor will be able to tell by examining you whether the sciatica is due to a herniated disk or piriformis syndrome. For quick reference,  sciatica caused by pressure from the piriformis is often worse when you are sitting down but less of a problem when you are standing or moving around but sciatica which is caused by herniation of a disc is eased by sitting down.

So, can massage help sciatic pain? If your sciatica is due to problems with your piriformis then definitely. A huge proprtion of the patients I treat at my massage practice in Ely Cambs have piriformis syndrome. It generally presents as pain in the buttock and may extend as far as the ankle, I would first check for a facet lock in your spine and if I suspect this may be the cause of your sciatic pain then I would refer you to one of the team of Osteopaths I work with at Ely Complementary Health Centre in order that it might be corrected. Once we are happy that all is fine with your spinal mobility then I can commence with the soft tissue work which will help to ease your symptoms and get you back to top form.