Here are my classes–On this page look for information on fitness, technique, and health. I will answer questions. I will send along recommendations from others on walks, runs, and other funs. Click Here
Body sculpting Tuesdays 10 am
Centering and Strengthening Wednesday. 7 am
Barrelattes Thursdays 9 am
Pilates Sunday 10 am & Roller Pilates Sunday 11 am
Is it Pain or an Injury?
Because we are high self-testers, we can push ourselves and not recognize when we’ve gone too far until we feel pain. It’s a refrain you can hear after challenging workouts. “Oh, the hip pain was excruciating?” “My back kept hurting.” Sure, workouts challenge our bodies and sometimes force a structural shift or intensity. For some people, they say, “If i don’t feel pain, I don’t feel like i got a workout.”
We’re being a little fast and loose with our language there–you don’t actually want pain. Let me throw in another phrase. Fatigue. Body builders and runners often train to exhaustion or to fatigue–a place where the body feels the work and has drained all the energy from the participating parts. Why is that attractive? Many fitness fans know that crossing thresholds of strength or flexibility have long term effects in the power of the body and the amount of lean body mass. However, remember that this can be a never ending cycle, always pushing.
I appreciate fatigue as a goal, and it can be achieved without going heavier or longer each time. You can change up and cross-train and use different methodologies to support your strength building. You won’t be very surprised to know that faithful weight lifters have a lot of trouble doing Pilates. You can challenge yourself and get to fatigue by interval workouts, rotations and/or cross -training. This is why I try not to repeat a workout in our classes for 6 weeks.
So back to the subject at hand: The difference between pain and injury. Pain doesn’t damage; injury does. I read a great article about pain, its relationship to your brain and your nervous system in Absolute Health Performance and I highly recommend it. When you feel pain, whether from a psychological trigger or an experience, immediately modify your form and stay safe. Try not to stop cold, unless you’re feeling sharp pain, so you don’t cramp. Anything piercing and sharp is a signal to let up.
Muscle soreness is a great indicator that you’re accelerating your strength. But real muscle response usually has a delay of a day or two. You know when you did 1100 squats on Sunday but couldn’t walk on Tuesday? I appreciate this article from UTPhysicians who break down muscle soreness and injury. If something is immediate, you might have an injury. Get it checked out by a health provider and take it easy. However be careful not to get too static. Sometimes moving is the one thing that will get the oxygen to the affect area and start the healing process
What I know about Sciatica
First before I get into my own management methods around sciatica, let’s see how it’s defined by docs:
Sciatica – Topic Overview
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is pain, tingling, or numbness produced by an irritation of the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is formed by the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the lower back. It goes down through the buttock, then its branches extend down the back of the leg to the ankle and foot.
What causes sciatica?
The most common cause of sciatica is a bulging or ruptured disc (herniated disc) in the spine pressing against the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve. But sciatica also can be a symptom of other conditions that affect the spine, such as narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis), bone spurs (small, bony growths that form along joints) caused by arthritis, or nerve root compression (pinched nerve) caused by injury. In rare cases, sciatica can also be caused by conditions that do not involve the spine, such as tumors or pregnancy.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of sciatica include pain that begins in your back or buttock and moves down your leg and may move into your foot. Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the leg may also occur.
- Sitting, standing for a long time, and movements that cause the spine to flex (such as knee-to-chest exercises) may make symptoms worse.
- Walking, lying down, and movements that extend the spine (such as press-ups) may relieve symptoms.
How is it treated?
In many cases, sciatica will improve and go away with time. Initial treatment usually focuses on medicines and exercises to relieve pain. You can help relieve pain by:
- Avoiding sitting (unless it is more comfortable than standing).
- Alternating lying down with short walks. Increase your walking distance as you are able to without pain.
- If swelling is prevalent around the nerve, use ice on/off 20 minutes – until swelling subsides
- Avoid massage or twisting stretches until the inflammation goes down
- For pain control –after inflammation-Using a heating pad on a low or medium setting for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 or 3 hours. Try a warm shower in place of one session with the heating pad. You can also buy single-use heat wraps that last up to 8 hours. You can also try an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. There is not strong evidence that either heat or ice will help, but you can try them to see if they help you.
- Take arnica, use arnica or cpd cream in area
How I manage my sciatica
I was in a canoe in the boundary waters between Minnesota and Canada, celebrating my doctorate. 3 weeks of paddling and portaging and fluctuating temperatures along with constant contact with the metal seat of the canoe started affecting my left leg. After about 2 weeks I felt paralyzed and was really worried because we were 2 days paddle out of any town.
When we finally got me some care, it was the first time I had heard of Sciatica (1985) and actually was relieved that it was something to manage, rather than something I would need surgery for.
Recognizing a couple of things about irritation of the sciatic nerve helps you manage it
- Sitting too long compresses the spine and pushes on the nerve system in the buttocks.
- Vehicles like cars and planes vibrate constantly—the vibration is subtle but endless and often attacks the sciatic nerve
- Putting a wallet/phone in the back pocket is extra pressure on the nerve
- Misalignment of spine and hips contributes
- Exercises that compress rather than separate also irritate.
- Wearing tight pants or a heavy belt should be avoided when having a sciatic episode
The best way to take care of it is to have body awareness
Do you cross your legs while seated?
Do you forget how long you’ve been sitting?
Are you carrying weight in your abdomen?
Do you engage in activities that compress you spine and lumbar?
Here’s what i Do
- i set a timer while I work so I remember to get up every 90 minutes—I do yoga for 10, or go out and throw the ball or stand in the kitchen and make tea
- When I’m riding in any vehicle, I put a pillow under my thigh. This lifts the buttock and the sciatic nerve off the seat, so that the vibration doesn’t agitate it.
- I work very hard on my core, including exercises that lift the spine upward
- I try to keep my abdomen light and lean and I am still trying
- I sleep with a pillow between my knees if l’m lying on my side or under my knees if I’m lying on my back to reduce pain
- If I have a flare up, I start with ice to reduce swelling and take arnica tablets (Chinese meds)
- I use a lap desk to regulate the symmetry of my legs when I’m working on the couch.
- Shoes need a slight elevation to move the pelvis in a little less pressured stance—some people have success with clogs, other with sneakers
As i mentioned before, you have to know what your habits are that influence sciatic flare ups and keep them to a minimum. Like me, you may forget you have it.