Sciatica and yoga?

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  • 02-06-2013
    kikoraa
    Sciatica and yoga?
    A little background.
    Skip to next paragraph for my "point" if you don't want to read.

    2007- I weighed 250 at 5'9" and was always drunk or high and lived a shitty life. Ended up doing some stupid **** and ruptured a disc. Overtime my right leg started going numb. One day it was shot and I drove myself to the emergency room. Started seeing a neuro and they put me through physical therapy and whatnot. It was so bad I stayed in bed for nearly 4 months. I went in for a checkup and she said "we have to do surgery tomorrow morning" (oct7th) immediatly after I felt great! That was a really humbling/life changing experience. Since then I lost about 50 pounds and I live a lot healthier. No longer do drugs (unless you count the occasional green a drug but even then its like once a month) back in school, full time job, and BIKES!!! I'm 25 now by the way. Way too young for back problems I think.


    Anyways... In the past couple of months my Sciatica has been acting up. I can't sit in a firm chair for more than 20 minutes without my right hamstring and glute developing an uncomfortable numbness. When I lay in bed still sometimes ill feel it along with my right toes twitching. Random times throughout the day I feel a numbness in my hamstring or a strange twitch in the top of my foot.
    I started doing hip flexor exercises (bikeJames 10minute mobility stretch video) recently and I think it may have somehing to do with it? I've been feeling a strange stiffness in my right hip/groin area when I walk too.

    I did some gentle yoga for the first time in years (not that I was big into it to begin with) yesterday and I went to bed feeling the same way although this morning its not acting up as bad.

    Anyone with experience like this?
  • 02-06-2013
    kikoraa
    Re: Sciatica and yoga?
    I just read in a previous thread about caffiene and restless.leg syndrome. I have upped my coffee intake by a ton since I started school a little over a month ago. Crap!
  • 02-06-2013
    jeffscott
    The yoga form has to be bang on....your a twisting and stretching if you do it wrong you can definately hurt yourself...

    Get some real live instruction....talk to the instructor about your problem before deciding on the instructor.
  • 02-09-2013
    slomo
    Yoga helped me a TON with back issues - both physically and mentally. I have had disc issues since 2001, culminating in fusion surgery last Jan. My pain was always in my right leg, at it's worst it felt like someone was grabbing a piece of razor wire at my glute and pulling it upward, I would feel this from my big toe all the way up my leg. Sometimes the pain would actually knock me to ground.

    I found yoga mid-way through my issues (06-07?) and have been through a lot of classes and probably 1/2 dozen instructors. Definitely talk to the instructors. The good ones will understand your injury and call out modifications to poses during class: "If you have a problem with {insert issue here} you can change the pose this way." The really good ones will walk around and adjust you mid-pose.

    There are also many styles of yoga, my favorite is vinyasa, I think it's also called "power flow". In this style you move progressively from pose to pose, it is not just a stand & hold kind of thing. It also focuses a lot on core strength which is great for protecting your back and helps on the bike. Depending on where you take classes (like a gym), sometimes the instructors have the flexibility to incorporate whatever style they want.

    Good luck with the back and I hope the yoga helps for you too.
  • 02-09-2013
    4Crawler
    I had some back/leg/hip issues like that a year and a half ago. Tried various stretches but the pain and tightness would not go away.

    So taking a cue from the chiropractor I see for a neck issue, I decided to try an inversion table to stretch out my back and decompress the discs. I started out with 2 - 15 minute sessions/day and after about 3 weeks, started to feel improvement. Then once I got the back loosened up and took the pressure off the nerve, was able to do the hip flexor stretches and have those do something.

    Been a year now and no pain and I still hop on the table from time to time when I feel my back tightening up. I had thought about seeing the chiro. about the back issue, but decided the table would cost me about the same as 7-8 sessions. So if it worked, I was ahead of the money. Not saying it'll help in your case, but might be worth checking one out if you know someone with one.
  • 02-11-2013
    FitmanNJ
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by slomo View Post
    Yoga helped me a TON with back issues - both physically and mentally. I have had disc issues since 2001, culminating in fusion surgery last Jan. My pain was always in my right leg, at it's worst it felt like someone was grabbing a piece of razor wire at my glute and pulling it upward, I would feel this from my big toe all the way up my leg. Sometimes the pain would actually knock me to ground.

    I found yoga mid-way through my issues (06-07?) and have been through a lot of classes and probably 1/2 dozen instructors. Definitely talk to the instructors. The good ones will understand your injury and call out modifications to poses during class: "If you have a problem with {insert issue here} you can change the pose this way." The really good ones will walk around and adjust you mid-pose.

    There are also many styles of yoga, my favorite is vinyasa, I think it's also called "power flow". In this style you move progressively from pose to pose, it is not just a stand & hold kind of thing. It also focuses a lot on core strength which is great for protecting your back and helps on the bike. Depending on where you take classes (like a gym), sometimes the instructors have the flexibility to incorporate whatever style they want.

    Good luck with the back and I hope the yoga helps for you too.

    I never quite understand posts like this (and I see them a lot), so I need to offer an alternative way of looking at things.. The basic facts of this person's back history seem to be: 2001- Back pain began; 2006 or 2007- Began doing various forms of yoga; 2012, January- Had back fusion surgery. Therefore, over the five or six years of doing yoga, it was clearly NOT successful at stabilizing the low-back problem. So, why is yoga being recommended/considered a good therapy for the OP?

    From what I have seen, yoga may help some back patients, but for many, it will have no effect, or can even make the problem worse! It's unclear which of these effects we see in this person's case, but a rational conclusion based on the reported history is that the yoga may have had no effect, or even accelerated the demise of the discs causing the pain, resulting in the necessity for doing fusion surgery.

    I can recall personally speaking with a person whose back pain consistently got worse after doing yoga. Her response? -- "I must have been doing the yoga wrong." This type of reaction indicates a level of brainwashing that's remarkable. What about the possibility that yoga was an inappropriate therapy for the condition being "treated?"

    Yoga is heavily advertised and has an abundance of practitioners who are willing to offer their testimonials as to its value. I really wonder, however, if many of these testimonials are just the marketing talking. I've thoroughly researched the scientific literature on back pain and noted how little research has been done with regard to yoga -- and how low in quality the existing literature is ("good results" often being reported by yoga instructors who make their living teaching yoga -> financial confict; no control groups used, questionable analysis applied, and not peer-reviewed -- overall, just weak research).

    If anyone reading this board wants to try something with infinitely more scientific research behind it, Google "Stuart McGill, PhD" and see the mountain of evidence that he has amassed with his team at the University of Waterloo in Canada regarding exercise and low back pain/sciatica. Find a thoughtful local practitioner of these methods and give it the same test of time that you'd be willing to give yoga or some other alternative, unproven method. The McGill techniques won't help everyone, but they have given many individuals great relief. They arenít a "miracle cure," but they do provide a scientifically rational and proven approach to discogenic low back concerns.

    By the way, inversion therapy for back discomfort has been reported to temporarily relieve nerve compression-related pain in some persons. A related issue, though, is that hanging upside down substantially increases blood pressure in the brain. While for most persons, this is probably OK, some experts have expressed concern about a potential relationship between inversion therapy and stroke incidence. To be prudent, therefore, prior to using an inversion table, one should probably address this concern with his/her physician.
  • 02-11-2013
    jeffscott
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by FitmanNJ View Post
    I never quite understand posts like this (and I see them a lot), so I need to offer an alternative way of looking at things.. The basic facts of this person's back history seem to be: 2001- Back pain began; 2006 or 2007- Began doing various forms of yoga; 2012, January- Had back fusion surgery. Therefore, over the five or six years of doing yoga, it was clearly NOT successful at stabilizing the low-back problem.This is NOT a valid conclusion So, why is yoga being recommended/considered a good therapy for the OP?

    I can recall personally speaking with a person whose back pain consistently got worse after doing yoga. Her response? -- "I must have been doing the yoga wrong." This type of reaction indicates a level of brainwashing that's remarkable. What about the possibility that yoga was an inappropriate therapy for the condition being "treated?"Certainly in some cases Yoga may not work


    If anyone reading this board wants to try something with infinitely more scientific research behind it, Google "Stuart McGill, PhD" and see the mountain of evidence that he has amassed with his team at the University of Waterloo in Canada regarding exercise and low back pain/sciatica. Find a thoughtful local practitioner of these methods and give it the same test of time that you'd be willing to give yoga or some other alternative, unproven method. The McGill techniques won't help everyone, but they have given many individuals great relief. They arenít a "miracle cure," but they do provide a scientifically rational and proven approach to discogenic low back concerns.

    What you don't know is what would have happened if yoga was absent....perhaps he would have had the surgery much sonner. Basically that is what the guy is saying.

    Most if not all modern treatments for back pain involve core strengthing and extension and twisting stretches of the back....

    A well tailored yoga program meets these requirements.

    Even after surgery the exersize programs are continued.
  • 02-11-2013
    kikoraa
    I (the op) had L5 surgery in October 2007 and admittedly did not do a great job of continuing with the recommend daily stretches/exercises they provided. My own damn fault on that. I am fairly active though with a labor intensive job (landscaping for 5 years) and getting into mountain biking the past few years along with road biking a little more serious the past year. It seems that if I do beginner yoga exercises I found video of, I get a little relief of pain. Also I have been a little sedentary with the weather dropping work hours and focusing on school over riding my bikes.

    The bike james mobility stretches may have been a little to extreme for me to be doing daily so I backed off of those since I originally started this thread. Yoga, however, has been doing great so long as I don't push myself or try to hold something that "hurts" I understand there has to be some discomfort in reaching proper form and holding that pose but considering im not flexible to begin with, if something doesn't feel right, I just don't do it. Maybe once I get more accustomed to these poses, I will be able to properly do them instead of waiting for the next pose.

    I found this link and I may start using these as a 3x/week exercise
    Vinyasa Flow Yoga for beginners-Ekhart Yoga

    thanks for everyones replies. keep em coming!
  • 02-11-2013
    Tim Easterday
    I used to have frequent sciatic nerve pain but since I started exercising 5-6 days a week it hasn't been a problem. I think what really helped me was good old-fashioned lunges, squats, and deadlifts combined with regular core exercises. Don't forget the back too - cobra stretches and "supermans" work well for the back and help balance things out when doing ab work. When everything is done stretch out really good. Look up "piriformis stretches" because the piriformis muscle can really irritate the sciatic nerve.
  • 02-13-2013
    slomo
    Let me just add for the record that the OP asked for experiences and I presented mine. My experiences are my experiences and should not be taken for medical advice. I am not a doctor and I did not sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    One observation that I have made through my experiences - many of the back and core strengthening exercises taught to me in PT or by Chiros were slightly modified or straight up moves I did in yoga class later on. Things that make you go hmmmmmm...

    Again, good luck OP, hope you're getting some relief.
  • 02-22-2013
    bstoic
    Yoga is a great form of exercise
  • 03-03-2013
    Ricisan
    One size does not fit all! That being said, I have done most of what has been suggested.
    The "folding" moves in yoga nearly killed me. Inversion has been part of my daily program for 30yrs. Core training and all is also good.
    The best move I have picked up from a gym rat is to lie on back, then pull knee to same side shoulder. After that, roll slightly to your side and pull your knee to the oppisite shoulder. Then as your back relaxes, you can try and rotate the knee to the floor.
    Take your time and let the muscles relax through the stretch.
    I also do some "good mornings" in the shower. JMHO

    R
  • 03-03-2013
    kikoraa
    Thanks for everyone's replies. I get excited every time I get an email notification saying there is a post in this thread. Lot's of great info.

    Just an update. I've been doing more gentle stretches, beginner yoga type, and piriformis before I go to bed/wake and at random times throughout the day. Also do a 20 minute core routine every couple of days. I haven't had a spell of sciatica pain since my last post 2 weeks ago. I've also picked up running and have fallen in love with it. Look forward to it everyday even though I can only run a little over two miles consistently. I also don't wear any items in my back pockets which may be a placebo effect but seems to be more comfortable.
  • 03-21-2013
    kikoraa
    Sciatica and yoga?
    Another update :(
    I did something wrong and may have another disc problem. I'm in the process of changing insurance so I have to wait before I see someone. Probably next week.

    I have even running 3 days a week. Usually 2-3 miles and have been pushing hard when I Mtb. My diet is also much better. Lots of raw foods.

    I raced a 6 hr last Saturday and had a blast/ felt great. Monday mornig I woke up with severe sciatic pains in y right leg. It escalated from there. Now I can't be in a sitting position because the pain is so uncomfortable. When I bed forward I can actually feel something being pinched and my leg starts flooding from the hip down with pain. I can literally adjust the pain with how far I bend. It's strange. Also when I arch back I can feel another pinch and my right leg tingles and slowly starts going numb but without pain. Standing is the only time I feel normal. I weigh 205 and am 5'9".

    My worst fear has returned. These pains feel all too similar. I never wanted this to happen again. Damn...
  • 03-21-2013
    FitmanNJ
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kikoraa View Post
    Another update :(
    I did something wrong and may have another disc problem. I'm in the process of changing insurance so I have to wait before I see someone. Probably next week.

    I have even running 3 days a week. Usually 2-3 miles and have been pushing hard when I Mtb. My diet is also much better. Lots of raw foods.

    I raced a 6 hr last Saturday and had a blast/ felt great. Monday mornig I woke up with severe sciatic pains in y right leg. It escalated from there. Now I can't be in a sitting position because the pain is so uncomfortable. When I bed forward I can actually feel something being pinched and my leg starts flooding from the hip down with pain. I can literally adjust the pain with how far I bend. It's strange. Also when I arch back I can feel another pinch and my right leg tingles and slowly starts going numb but without pain. Standing is the only time I feel normal. I weigh 205 and am 5'9".

    My worst fear has returned. These pains feel all too similar. I never wanted this to happen again. Damn...

    You've clearly been doing some very demanding activities for someone with a back issue. Then again, I viewed the video of yoga exercises that you provided the link for and noticed that about 2/3 of the movements replicate the spinal motions and loads used in biomechanics laboratories to create herniated discs. I suggested a source for an alternative approach to treating this type of back problem, and was ridiculed. I'm sure there will be a number of persons who will now post that your latest problem is because "...you just weren't doing the yoga correctly."

    I wish you well in getting better, but, unfortunately, you may now be moving toward another back operation.
  • 03-21-2013
    kikoraa
    Sciatica and yoga?
    I did the yoga a couple of times but didn't stick with it. Mainly biking and running have been my main form of exercise since the last post a few weeks back. This sciatica started Monday. Thank you for the wishes. It's discouraging but that's life.
  • 03-21-2013
    On3_kn0WN
    I experienced a lower back injury, after falling in basketball from a jump straight onto my tailbone. This caused a chip in one of my vertebrae as well as some compression in several discs. I couldn't hardly move for the 2 weeks afterwards, with "weakness" to my entire lower back. Shortly after the injury, started having pain down my right leg, Sciatica, tried a few stretches from a doc, to loosen the piriformis muscles death grip on the nerve, didn't seem to help a lot. Consulted a neuro surgeon, she was against surgery as i had full strength in my extremities.

    She recommended a book, "8-Steps to a Pain Free back" 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot: Esther Gokhale, Susan Adams: 9780979303609: Amazon.com: Books

    There are very simple, logical steps described in this book, after performing some of the tasks within this book, within a week i had noticed improvements, it has helped relive all pain from my lower back.

    The biggest change, was i used to sleep on my stomach, after stopping this, immediately my pain subsided and was rare, then, putting a little more time in exercising, i was able to shed about 20 pounds, and strengthen my core. All together, i have been pain free from sciatica and lower back pain since the injury about 18 months ago. I've been back to playing basketball, mountain biking, weight training, ping pong, snowboarding, running even. I started slow, back into my activities, to loose the weight i chose cycling to help as it was low impact, and slowly i've gotten back to full on mountain biking, jumping, etc.

    Everyones different, don't give up and just accept the pain will be there, there must be a solution to it, keep looking, 15$ for a book is minor in terms of cost, so keep trying. Maybe the book will help you, maybe not.

    Good luck, Sciatica sucks, take care of yourself (also i wear padding in most activities now, to help prevent injury... just a little more cautious). and dont over do it too soon, it was months before i did impact related activities again, wanted to rebuild the strength in the right areas before attempting stuff like that.
  • 03-21-2013
    cmc4130
    :mad:i also had/have sciatica. it has gone away 95%. this seems to be the best stretch for me, especially in a hot tub followed by cold pool.

    my hamstrings were so tight from riding and sitting at a desk, that previously i could barely stand straight up wtih a my leg straightened on a raised bench. i had a massage therapist explain to me that sometimes people's hamstrings are so tight they pull, causing strain on low back. so far she seems to be right. i tried chiropractor and other physical therapy, but this single stretch has helped the most....

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_b8UQcpeuK...ingstretch.jpg

    http://www.yourdrgreens.com/blog/wp-...am-stretch.gif
  • 03-21-2013
    kikoraa
    I'll have to try that when I can actually lift my leg. I couldn't even tie my shoes this morning. any kind of bending, sitting, even when my right leg goes out to far while walking causes pain. My hamstrings are ridiculously tight.
  • 03-25-2013
    kikoraa
    Sciatica and yoga?
    Seem to be getting better. The mornings are horrible. Almost to tears every day. Once my muscles warm up I feel good. Lots of pins and needles on the bottom of my right foot and the shocks of sciatica down my leg are easing up a little. Load up on the meds at night to sleep but still wake up screaming. I'm able to sit comfortably and for longer periods of time which is good because I have a test to study for. I have to tuck my legs back under my chair though. Driving sill gets me. When I press the gas that's about where my leg starts to bend at my waist for that pinch feeling. Threw a leg over my commuter on my trainer last night and spun super easy for about 20 min pain free. Felt good to sweat. I can ride the hoods just fine but experience slight discomfort in the drops. I'm guessing it will be a long while before my doc clears me for Mtb. Appointment isn't until next Wednesday so I have a week and a half of worrying to do I guess. Guessing ill have to start PT and after a while, ask about chiro visits. I bought that sarno book "healing back pain" and look forward to reading it. Saw a lot of recommendations on the forum about it.
  • 04-24-2013
    jlf.ski.bike.sail
    kikoraa,

    anything high impact is not going to be good for a disc problem.
    I ruptured my L5/S1 october 22 2012. After attempting to ski in late december, began having pain in my right leg and foot. then decided to take this seriously and changed my lifestyle. On march 1st 2013 i did my first real mtb ride (altho went very easy). In the past couple weeks i have been able to start jumping and riding harder, but i am still not 100%. I am confident that i will be able to get back to 100% tho.
    Before I hurt my back, I ran 20 miles a week, lifted heavy weights at the gym, dirt jumped, downhilled, hucked cliffs skiing, generally had an awesome time. I didnít stretch, I didnít work out my hips, or focus enough on my core.

    Recovery, this is a very slow process. Everyones back problems are different. You mentioned that when you arch back you feel numbness. Thatís probably because your nerve root is really inflamed and getting pinched by your vertebrae and disc.

    Highlights of my work out regime that seem to work for me. ( did this for a solid 5 months before starting to push it on a mountain bike again) Im not out of the woods yet, but I am so glad I did this.

    If you are Fat (more than 15% body fat), then get unfat. excess weight is a first step to removing pressure from discs.
    NOT running.
    Lots of swimming (20-40 mins per session).
    Easy proper posture road riding. (ALOT)
    Lots of leg stretching (at least twice a day, each muscle for atleast 30 seconds). Definitely do a long stretch session before any kind of high intensity work outs (like shredding a mountain bicycle)
    I did beginner yoga, but you have to avoid many poses, donít just do yoga blind, you can get very hurt if you already have a disc problem.
    Proper posture.
    Lots of core workouts. Planks, push ups, variants of both.
    Lots of pull ups (40 a day)
    Hip exercises! Having strong hips keeps you even. These are really boring, looks stupid, but are huge for supporting proper movement.
    Stay hydrated! Donít eat like crap!
    dont use nicotine products.
  • 04-24-2013
    Rigid
    >>If anyone reading this board wants to try something with infinitely more scientific research behind it, Google "Stuart McGill, PhD" and see the mountain of evidence that he has amassed with his team at the University of Waterloo in Canada regarding exercise and low back pain/sciatica.<<

    This. McGill is the expert, exactly as stated. Or go to a good PT. If you're doing yoga for this without expert advice first you deserve whatever happens to your back. Don't run if you have serious back problems, listen to your body.