By Kathi Casey, EYRT, CPI –
October has an entire week designated as Back Pain Awareness Week; it’s about time! One of Baby Boomers’ most frequent complaints is low back or sciatic nerve pain. If you are having pain in your lower back that sometimes radiates through your buttock and down your leg, comes and goes, and you’re wondering what on earth is causing it, then read on!
There are definitely activities that exacerbate piriformis syndrome and sciatic nerve pain. Running, biking, kick boxing and tennis are the most common Boomer activities that can give you a pain in the butt. All of these fun sports shorten the muscles surrounding your sciatic nerve so that if you play often, but don’t stretch, you’ll feel the pain.
Just the other day, one of my clients told me that it couldn’t possibly be her mad, mad biking that’s causing her butt and leg pain because she’s been biking for years. When I asked her if she stretched before or after she got on the bike, she responded: “I just jump on and go!” I found a delicate way to let her know that while that may have worked when she was 20 years old, now that she’s a full fledged member of the Baby Boomer generation, she has to treat her body better if she wants it to function properly. Years and years of not stretching have not helped – the pain simply took it’s time showing up, sort of like my brother Joe, “fashionably late,” as he likes to refer to it.
The sciatic nerve is actually three nerve endings that exit your spinal column at the base and then travel across your buttocks and down the backs of your legs, which means that there are several thick muscles surrounding it. When these muscles tighten up too much or too fast, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, you’ll be in pain. The hamstrings and the piriformis muscles are the biggest culprits, but don’t worry – there’s an easy fix.
Most runners know that you need to stretch the hamstrings after running, but the piriformis can also be a big pain in your butt (pun intended). The piriformis stretches from your hip to your tailbone and when it gets tight it pulls one toward the other, throwing your whole pelvic area out of whack – Ouch! Simply stretching all of these muscles both before and after your exercise will keep them healthy and flexible, and, most importantly, stop your pain. Stretching after you exercise is even more important because you need to stretch and relax the muscles that have just been tightened during whatever strenuous activity you were engaged in; those muscles and joints are thoroughly warmed up now, making the stretching easier, and reducing the chance of straining. Yes Martha, you can even injure yourself by stretching too enthusiastically!
Another problem in this fast paced society is that we sit too much. There are many easy ways to stretch while sitting, we simply have to remember to do them! Here’s an example from my Amazon international bestselling book “STOP Back Pain – Kiss Your Back, Neck and Sciatic Nerve Pain Goodbye!” that will help you stretch and make you more comfortable, so you can keep on biking, running, and playing your favorite games well into your “Golden Years!”
- First, sit tall in your chair and relax your shoulders.
- Then rest your right ankle over your left thigh. Make sure you don’t have the ankle resting on your knee.
- Now, take hold of the seat of your chair with both hands and lean forward with a flat back. You’ll feel the stretch in your right hip, thigh and buttocks.
- Breathe deeply for one to two minutes and then switch legs.
This is especially recommended for times when you have to sit in long meetings. It will help keep those muscles stretched so that they don’t tense up on you. Repeat every hour.
Kathi Casey, “The Healthy Boomer Body Expert” is a renowned health and wellness coach, popular Baby Boomer columnist, Amazon bestselling author, has appeared on Fox 23, ABC-8 Evening News, and produces her own TV show, “To Your Health.” She’s the founder of The Healthy Boomer Body Center in Massachusetts. Her book “STOP Back Pain” is an Amazon international best seller. Her blog ranked #10 in nursingschools.net list of 50 top Health Blogs. For the last 9 years, she’s been teaching people how to take charge of their own Health Care – Regardless of what Congress does! http://www.HealthyBoomerBody.com