Remove The Cause of Your Pain
The first thing we have to do, before implementing long term solutions is to STOP doing the things that are likely triggering the pain in the first place.
Believe it or not, research has shown that most people are doing the very things that are causing the pain. They might think it's helping, but those activities are actually prolonging the pain.
To Stop Pain Think Subtraction Not Addition
Before you can feel your best and look your best you need to subtract before you add. Let's look at weight loss as an example because I am sure most of you want to get out of pain so you can do the activities that you love. And let's be real, you want to look damn good while you are doing those activities!
A nice toned set of abs and arms would be awesome, right? I agree. Unfortunately, we all tend to make the same mistakes trying to get out of pain that we make while trying to lose weight and get in shape.
To lose weight the first thing you need to do is Subtract NOT Add. Before adding some overwhelming fitness regimen make sure you have a plan for your nutrition.
Subtract the refined sugars and refined carbohydrates like white breads. Stop adding Turmeric (or any other spice or herb that promises health benefits) to your meals if you are still drinking soda and adding sugar to your coffee.
Now when it comes to pain we do the same thing. We think adding more exercise is the answer. Or we think that pushing through the pain will somehow result in future pain relief.... that is a head scratcher.
Once we are in pain we start to replace our normal exercise with "corrective exercises" that our physical therapist or personal trainer gave us. Which usually equals lots of low back and butt exercises. It is the right idea, but often poorly timed.
Before you add or start interchanging new exercises we need to subtract to get rid of pain. We start by subtracting...
- Poor postural habits
- Poor movement quality
- Poor work ergonomics
- Poor quality and quantity of sleep
- Poor nutritional habits and food quality
These subtractions help reduce pain by:
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing nerve sensitivity
- Promoting healing
This should give you a HUGE sense of relief. It is not about more. It is about less.
5 Things You Can Subtract Immediately
1.Rounded Back Postures
2.Stretching Your Hamstrings
3.Stretching Your Lower Back
4.Self Back "Cracking"
5.Crunches and Twist Exercises
Sitting, Standing & Lifting In a Rounded Back Posture
Low back rounding is likely what triggered your symptoms to begin with. Recall repeated rounding and twisting at the back is often the cause of Sciatica and Back Pain.
Surprisingly, people unconsciously adopt this posture in their lower back when in pain. It is a compensation that often delays your progress and worsens a pinched nerve.
Somewhere along the way you were told to keep a flat back posture with exercise, standing and sitting. If you weren’t coached into this posture you gradually adopted a flat back or slightly rounded lower back posture before or after your pain started.
This is a sure fire way to make your back and Sciatic nerve SUPER angry. Some degree of curvature (hollow) is naturally built into your lower back. Respecting this posture will prevent back pain and keep your Sciatic nerve from being compressed.
A= Wrong B=Right
Stretching Your Hamstrings
This may feel good in the moment, but it is really stressing your Sciatic nerve in a way that is going to exacerbate the pain in the long run. An already angry nerve doesn’t like to be tugged on! If stretching were the secret formula for getting better you would not be here. And honestly, I’ve met almost no one who has contributed stretching to relief from Sciatica pain. Interestingly, some of the most flexible people are the ones coming into my clinic complaining of back pain and Sciatica.
Stretching Your Lower Back
Many think their “tight back” is causing their sciatica and take steps to become more flexible in that area. In reality your tight back is only a symptom not the cause. Stiffness in the hamstrings, back and butt muscles are often because of an irritated disc and Sciatic nerve. You are not going to stretch the pain away. Think of your lower back more like the foundation of your house. You want it strong, stable and secure! When you start adopting this mindset and learn the proper way to move and exercise you will finally get the relief you have been looking for.
Self Back "Cracking"
Sciatica is often triggered by an injury to a disc in your back. With disc injury comes a little bit of instability in the lower back. This instability is often to blame for your back “locking up” or muscle spasms with even the most subtle movements. We want to strengthen and stabilize your lower back, NOT make it more flexible. Your back “cracking” might feel good for a second, but it is only a temporary solution that leads to more chronic pain over time.
Doing Crunches AND Twists
I saved this one for last because I think it has become more common knowledge that these are a “no, no.” It has taken years for the Army to remove them from their Physical Fitness Test, but it finally happened. It is important to understand that the lower back is built to be STABLE, not flexible. Exercises like crunches, side crunches and Russian twists are an excellent way to injure your back. The lower back (lumbar spine) is meant to RESIST not create motion. One of the biggest mistakes I see in the gym is poor lower back posture with lower back strengthening (Core Exercise), general strengthening and cardiovascular exercise.