As I wrote last Saturday, I reintroduced a lower body exercise too soon. In this case it was kettlebell squats. The pain came back with a vengeance in my left buttocks, and the sciatic nerve was shooting pain and numbness all the way down to my left heel.
Where am I today? I’m writing this on a Sunday morning with a bag of frozen peas on my left buttocks. In twenty minutes, the hot water bottle will be next. So, I’m obviously not back to 100%. That said, I have had slow, but steady progress since the flare up nine days ago. Specifically, the pain is nearly gone; my mobility is nearly 100% and the slight numbness in my bum cheek, thigh and left foot is slowly going away. I still have some pain and weakness in my calf, but this is noticeably improving. I was even able to sleep on my left-side on Saturday night!
Back pain is as mysterious as the Trinity and is different for each sufferer. That said, from doing some research and getting a bit of advice, this is what I came up with. For those who are suffering from pseudo-sciatica, this may get the ball rolling. Remember, this is not medical advice. Consult your doctor!
Cold Packs and Hot Packs
I’ve been doing this twice a day. Cold peas on the painful area for twenty minutes followed with a hot water bottle for another twenty minutes. The cold reduces the inflammation; the heat encourages the blood to rush back in to the tight muscles causing me pain.
I’ve used a therapy ball on the tight muscles over the last week. This was the thing that saved me a few weeks ago when I couldn’t stand up without intense pain. I laid off the ball for a few days last week. Why? I think it could become a bit counterproductive lying on a ball even if it was stretching the muscles causing me pain. My feeling was that too much of this could end up bruising the muscles themselves and making things worse. So I stopped this for four days. I started up again on this past Friday. There were no ill effects and I had less pain in my calf after the ball therapy.
On a social media platform, someone suggested these stretching techniques. I gave most of these a go. In particular, I’ve found prone press-ups, standing extensions, lying flexions and toe touches to be very helpful. Across the past week all of these movements have become less and less painful to do. I’ve also returned to nearly full mobility.
These have really helped. I stated in my original post that the stretches were not helping. I managed to find new ones that really targeted my tight gluteal muscles and my piriformis. The best ones have been the seated stretch, the stretch on the floor and especially the pigeon stretch.
I now do these stretches before and after work.
I don’t wish the pain I suffered on my worst enemy. Well, maybe Stalin, Mao, Lenin and Hitler. I’m going to continue with the rehabbing for some time and keep up with the stretches in perpetuity. I’m going to do some limited upper body work today (press-up and pull ups) and go for a short walk. I think I need to lay off squats, box jumps, etc. for months.
I’m a man of a certain vintage. I can’t expect my body to bounce back as if I were twenty. Maybe I should take up yoga next?