I am spending this summer caring for my mother who suffering from sciatic nerve pain due to a herniated disc. This didn’t just happen overnight, it’s been years of poor posture and then one final jolt as she pulled her suitcase off the carousel and here she is, 76 feeling like 90.
We have been to acupuncturists, physio therapists, osteopaths, physiatrists, and chiropractors – you name them, we have seen them. What I have learned is that this is the most common back injury on the planet. Most people’s backs will heal with time but many opt for surgery. Here in Canada, the wait is months, so in the meantime, as I help her manage with her walker, and we do gentle extension movements to help the bulge move back into the spine and away from her sciatic nerve, we practise these 4 movements. It’s a good reminder for all of us and I hope you find this helpful. Video to follow.
1. Lift your sternum up – this is the large bone between your breasts that your ribs attach to. Imagine there is a hook on the bottom pulling it up. Notice, as soon as you do this what happens to your shoulders.
2. Retract your chin. Many of us stick our chins out and this leads to strain in the neck muscles and to a bulge at the top of the back over time. Not pretty and certainly not good for the spine. When you do this, notice what happens to your back.
3. Squeeze your shoulder blades towards each other. Notice how this affects your shoulders, as they move back away from their normal forward slant.
4. Squeeze the tips of shoulder blades down towards your hips. My aunt says imagine putting them into your jean pockets and I think that’s a great analogy.