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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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