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Thread: Sciatica

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    Question Sciatica

    I turn 50 in August - was a gym rat in my late 20's to mid 30's. Made a comeback to gym in December 2010 - I have been careful to slowly increase weights, in small increments, high reps (aiming for max 10, min 8). Now on split routines. Recently developed what I think is sciatica - weird as it sounds, it seems to coincide with adding crunches to workout? Didn't feel a twinge even when worked up to 100KG deadlifts (10 reps) & when my leg routine included squats. Should I just lay off deadlifts & squats or is the hip flexor action from crunches contributing? Is rest the go or seek physio?





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    Mobility and flexibility. Get a trigger point ball or foam roller and use it on your hammies, ITB, lower back and glutes.
    Look up stretches for piriformis, glutes, ITB, Hamstrings, calf.
    Perform them twice a day until you see some lasting improvement, then perform them after every workout or when you feel tight.
    Also consider TA activation.


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    If it is sciatica then crunches do not sound weird as it is pain in your leg that comes from a pinched nerve in your back. I'd see a decent sports physio.
    Curb weight: 78 kg
    DL 84 x 8; SQ 67 x 10 49 x 20; BR 67 x 8; PC 45 x 10; MP 39 x 7; BP 57 x 10
    1RM. DL - 139 PC-FS - 67 BP - 57 (not tested)


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    I have experienced on/off sciatica for about 18 months now as a result of piriformis syndrome. It's not fun but you learn to get around it.

    Google Stuart Mcgill, one of the world's leading authorities on spinal injuries (in particular in a sporting context) and see what he says about crunches. They are one of the worst possible exercises for your spine, because they large load placed on the lumbar discs while they are in flexion. This would certainly explain sciatica. You might want to get a checkup and MRI to see whether there is any nerve impingement from a bulge.

    Not only that crunches involve much greater activation to the psoas than the abdominals, so they don't actually achieve what they're designed to.

    But I would definitely avoid the exercise altogether if that's what provoke the sciatica.

    Read up on McGill's big 3: the curlup, the side bridge and the bird dog. There's a few articles explaining the protocol. You use an exercise called the cat-camel as a warmup. This exercise in itself can produce a lot of relief in the low back.

    I would do these every day, in addition to the advice given by Ugly - all this stuff in combination has worked wonders for me.


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    Thanks for the advice. Piriformis syndrome really seems to describe the symptoms. A long time ago, I had treatment for sacroilliac joint inflammation and I thought it might be recurring, but it looks more like Piriformis. I had a workout on Monday, but will (try to) rest until after I see physio on Monday. In the meantime, will try the stretches - if crunches are an issue, would I be better doing planks for core strength?


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    Planks are good. Side bridges are good. Bird dogs are good. Do them all.

    You'll know if it's piriformis syndrome if doing a piriformis stretch on that side immediately resolves or reduces any pain radiating down your leg. It's that simple. If the piriformis is entrapping the nerve, stretching the muscle will help free the sciatic nerve. The other thing is that anti-inflamms won't be very effective for piriformis syndrome because it is a mechanical issue. If anti-inflamms help a lot it could be a disc related, possibly a tear - these release a lot of inflammatory chemicals that then irritate the sciatic nerve.

    Long term with piriformis syndrome it becomes a matter of releasing tension on the piriformis (stretching and self myofascial release with hard objects) and bringing the other muscles of the hip up to scratch so that the piriformis doesn't become overcome, in particular the glutes and the deep external rotators (gemelli, quadratus femoris etc). I still get occasion annoying pain but I can easily manage it knowing what's going on.


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    Join the Club kunce


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