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Getting through the day with Sciatica

Getting through the day with Sciatica

If you have been following my previous blogs, hopefully you will have had a reasonable nights sleep, managed to get dressed and done some gentle stretching. The following blog is about getting through the day when suffering from sciatic pain. For the purpose of this blog lets assume you are over the worst and the pain is starting to reduce even if only a little.

Be Smart and Keep Moving

Remember the litter picker from the blog on Getting Dressed with Sciatica? This could become your new best friend. I found that walking and keeping mobile helped to keep the pain at bay, but if anything fell on the floor it was a daunting task to pick things up, which is when the litter picker is worth its weight in gold. But sometimes the litter picker is n’t to hand or not up to the job and you have to bend to pick something up.

Twenty plus years ago I injured my back, and again this is where adversity can introduce a major plus into your life. I went to see Mr Dennis Wright the Senior Physiotherapist at Rochdale Infirmary who became my inspiration to take up remedial massage, but I digress.

Dennis explained how a weight lifter approaches the weights, the position they take up, feet wide apart. How they bend forwards from the hips, take hold of the bar, drop the hips into a squat, take the weight up through the arms, shoulders and back and then drive up with their legs.

These, he said, are the professionals at lifting weights who have developed their technique over centuries and it is these professionals whom we should look to when teaching people how to lift a weight off the floor.

Picking up larger items

My first bit of advice here would be don’t lift heavy items if you can avoid it. Obvious I know, but it needs to be said. When picking a large item up off the floor, such as a box, spread your feet wide apart like a weight lifter and bend as much as possible at the knees. Then sink as low as you can into a sitting position, hinge forwards at the hips and take hold of the item in question. Now drop the hips into a squat, take the weight up through the arms, shoulders and back and then drive up with your legs, being careful not to overload your back.

Reaching down low for small items

If the item is small, such as a bunch of keys, I found this to be the best way. Again, spread your legs wide like a weight lifter, with the foot of your good side nearest to and slightly behind the object. Then reach forwards and down with the arm of your affected side and pick up the object in question.

Reaching up high

When you have to reach up for something off a high shelf, for example, follow these steps as in my previous The Easiest Stretch for Sciatica. This opens up the spine and the sacro-iliac joint on the offending side, taking pressure off the nerve and at the same time stretches out the sciatic nerve itself, and is a safe way to reach those high up items.

In the bathroom

Another problem that has been highlighted to me is washing your hair (as you can see I don’t have to worry about this :-). But the advice from my wife is the following; instead of bending over the sink or bath, kneel down and lean against the side of the bath so that the bath supports your weight and reduces the stress on your back.

In the kitchen

Some people find that bending forwards over the sink to wash is painful. In this case what I would suggest is that, similar to lifting a weight, stand at the sink with your feet apart and let your knees bend so that you don’t have to lean forwards so much.

One final tip, when working in the kitchen either preparing food or washing up whilst stood on a hard surface, wear well-cushioned shoes or crocks, or alternatively have a cushioned non-slip mat on the floor. Personally, I go for wearing the cushioned foot wear (and yes, I do the washing up :-).

Once again, I hope this helps.

All the best, Ian

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Yiping Song
Yiping Song
2 months ago

I initially suffered from mild lower back pain since August this year. Later on, the lower back pain is gone, but it turned into left buttock, hip, back of knee, calf, and out side of my leg pain. The pain is so bad and I really struggle to stand or walk. When I read through the blogs, I feel my symptoms are somewhat different from most cases, so I want to see your opinions. I suffer very little pain on sitting, driving, lying, or bending forward, but I suffer from enormous pain on standing and walking. Tried many pain killers but none had significant effect. What is causing my pain and what I can do to walk normally again?

Reply to  Yiping Song
2 months ago

Dear Yiping,
Without a proper examination and full medical history by a healthcare professional it is not possible to accurately diagnose the cause of your symptoms so the best thing to do to get an accurate assessment would be to go to see a healthcare professional. The symptoms you describe are common for people with sciatica symptoms due to nerve root irritation in the lower spine. The reason why standing up can be a problem is because the particular configuration of disk bulging or disk herniation is susceptible to compression in the spine while standing and then pushing against the nerve roots. In this scenario when the symptoms are acute and very debilitating some individuals benefit from off loading pressure (compression) through the spine by using a walking and standing aid for a short period of time. Best wishes.

2 years ago

I myself suffered for a long time with sciatica and also arthritis in my knees and hips I don’t go out much so what would you recommended please any advices welcome vanessa .

Reply to  Vanessa
2 years ago

Hi Vanessa, it is quite common to have more than one health challenge to contend with at the same time. It can feel daunting. If there was one piece of advice for you to consider it would be to get out and get some fresh air with a gentle walk. If you can only manage 5 minutes that’s fine. The key is to do a little bit everyday. Best wishes.

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