• What to Do for Your Sciatica (When You Can’t Get Into Your Massage Therapist Immediately)

    First, let me apologize for Tuesday’s oops when I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “save draft” and an obviously unfinished blog was emailed or rss’d to you. Sigh. My status as a mere mortal is in no danger of being upgraded anytime soon.

    Now, onto this week’s post…

    Hip massage

    So you got off the plane or outta the car with that familiar ache going down the back of your leg, called to get an appointment with your massage therapist, and was told that s/he was booked solid for the next 3 days. Yikes!! What do you do while you wait for your appointment; besides put yourself on their cancellation list, that is?? Well, lucky for you I have a few suggestions!

    1. Heat – use moist heat* if possible and apply it to your low back, hip, front of your thigh, and back of your thigh for about 20 minutes each. If tight muscles are “pinching” the sciatic nerve, heat will help to relax them and ease the squeeze. *Moist heat can be achieved many ways – 1) moist heating pad (follow manufacturers directions) 2) a microwavable grain pack (you know it’s still good if your microwave window fogs up a bit while you’re heating it) or 3) a thick towel that’s been soaked in hot water for a while (make sure to keep heating the water in a pan on the stove or in the oven on low while the towel is soaking). To use – fold a dry bath towel (or use 2 hand towels), place the moist towel between 2 dry layers to make a hot towel sandwich, apply sandwich to your area of choice. If the heat makes the pain worse, remove it and switch to cold.
    2. Cold – If heat doesn’t help (or makes it worse), try using cold*. Apply the cold to your low back, hip, front of your thigh, and back of your thigh for about 20 minutes each. Cold is an analgesic and will therefore numb some of the pain. If the cold is painfully cold or makes your pain worse, remove it. *Ice is the best cold treatment, but blue packs will also work.
    3. Meditate – Meditation and mindfulness are excellent ways to dull the pain by moving your focus from the pain to something else, like the breath or a sound. There are many types of meditation, so hopefully you can find one that works for you. If you’re not much of a meditator, you can check out my May 2012 blog post on meditation for stress relief to get some ideas.
    4. Warm bath – A 20 minute warm bath with 1-2 cups of epsom salt can help reduce your pain. The warm water will help relax your whole body, while the epsom salt will work to regulate and optimize your muscle and joint function. If the heat aggravates the pain get out of the bath.
    5. Stretch – A simple, yet gentle forward bend will help to stretch out your low back, hip, and thigh muscles. If you do it from a standing position, make sure you have a chair handy to lean on if need be. It’s also important to only bend until you just begin to feel a stretch and to do it slowly. If you stretch too far or too fast, you risk having the muscles tighten up to protect themselves from possible injury and that would only serve to make your pain worse.

    So there you have it. A few tips that should help you make it through until you can get in to see your massage therapist, or keep you going between sessions.

    Do you have recurring sciatica? What do you find most helpful? Please leave a comment below and share the love won’t you?

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