Training for a half marathon when you have sciatica


This article is close to home for me at the moment as I am suffering with sciatic nerve pain. I have treated numerous clients over the years both back home in Australia and also here in Islington at the Angel Massage Clinic with low back pain and sciatica

The understanding of a ‘condition’ or ‘injury’ obviously becomes more apparent when you are suffering from it yourself and I can now really sympathise with all my clients. The symptoms I am suffering from are exactly what my clients have described to me in the past and it is a real eye opener!

I can empathise with everyone I have treated with this problem, and it is very frustrating when you like running or keeping fit yet have nerve pain. At the moment I am in training for a half marathon in Killarney-Ireland on July 14th. A lot of the patients I see with low back pain and or sciatica at the massage clinic in Islington are in there 20’s and 30’s. Most are physically very active so keeping active and maintaining fitness is important to them during their recovery from their problem. As it is to me!

Symptoms of sciatica or nerve root pain:

• Constant pain on one side into the glutei muscles or down the leg
• Pain worse when sitting
• Burning or tingling down the leg
• Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
• A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or to walk

Sciatic pain can vary in its intensity and of course it can vary in its level of annoyance. Sciatica can range from being intermittent and only mildly annoying to being constant and incapacitating with pain on almost every movement. In my experience of being a massage therapist in Islington the specific symptoms of sciatica can also vary widely and everyone’s interpretation of pain can also be different.

While symptoms can be very painful, there is a glimmer of light as it’s rare that permanent sciatic nerve damage will result. If there is nerve damage and a loss in reflexes or in the innervation of a muscle this should heal over time.

The Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica background:
• Sciatica symptoms occur when the large sciatic nerve is irritated. The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and is composed of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back and combine to form the “sciatic nerve” which runs down the back of the leg.
• The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back at lumbar segment 3 (L3).
• At each level of the lower spine a nerve root exits the spine between the vertebrae and behind the intervertebral disc they then comes together to make up the large sciatic nerve.
• The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, down the back of each leg
• Portions of the sciatic nerve then branch out in each leg to innervate certain parts of the leg e.g. the buttock, thigh, calf, foot, toes.
• The sciatic nerve provides both sensory and motor nerves.
• The sciatica symptoms (e.g., leg pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, possibly foot pain) are different depending on where the nerve is pinched. For example, a lumbar segment 5 (L5) nerve impingement can cause weakness in extension of the big toe and potentially in extension of the ankle.

As the massage therapist in Islington at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic I think it will be helpful to all of my patients that have sciatica and a disc problem if I let you know how I am treating my disc pain and sciatica. I will also keep you up to date with how I am maintaining my fitness levels for the approaching half marathon whilst juggling the discomfort of having a pinched nerve radiating pain down the back of my left leg!

The treatment I have found to be the most effective for the pain is the application of ice. I usually apply ice for approximately 20 minutes and then repeat it every two hours. It is not so easy at work to walk around with a bag of frozen peas shoved down the back of my trousers but it’s no problem when at home.

Most of my clients use ice first. This approach does make sense as ice reduces acute inflammation such as in an acutely inflamed disc. I like to remind my massage clients that you ice a twisted and swollen ankle. This is similar to the damage in a disc that leads to sciatica and a pinched nerve.

In some cases ice just doesn’t have any effect on them and they find more relief with heat. This doesn’t make any sense to me but if it works for them who am I to disagree! The cold and heat can be alternated in some cases but have a chat with an osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor first and get a proper diagnosis first.

So what have I been up to that helps decrease my discomfort? Firstly I have been having regular massages in Islington to free up the tightness in my low back the and the buttock muscles. Massage helps to increase the blood supply to the muscles and this improved circulation helps to clear out the build up of lactic acid produced by the chronically tight muscles. Therapeutic massage also helps to produce endorphins which can also help to relieve some of the symptoms.

Finally, working at Islington’s Angel Wellbeing Clinic I have access to chiropractic, osteopathy, physiotherapy and acupuncture so I am tackling this problem from all angles.

Next article will be about my experience of having my sciatica treated by an osteopath and how I plan my training around the sciatica.

Wishing you all well,

Julie Curran

If you are suffering form sciatica or are jest a keen runner and want to have a sports massage in Islington with Julie click below to make an appointment.


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