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About 3 months ago I had a bulging L5/S1 disc (confirmed by MRI) pressing on Nerve Root. Cause? Really unsure, but I travel lots for jobs and feel like way some too vigorous flexion based Yoga and some pretty poor squat bracing mechanics helped cause it.
Loads of Prednisone and 6 weeks of time later, things were tracking well back to normal and back to WOD as usual.
However, last week while squatting probably due to some missing ankle mobility / thoracic extension had a bit of a butt wink situation resulting what felt like a lower back / high glute spasm. Felt “fine” for a day or two but progressed into some horrific sciatica now, which is only felt in my piriformis and lower calf. Sitting is absolute agony, which is not ideal for someone who needs to you know, live.
I’ve visited a great physio who found a rock hard piriformis, but despite dry needling, some glute supernova work and lots of QL / upper glute work, nothing has released. I’m now about two weeks later and things are just as bad as before, with pretty chronic pain meaning I can’t sit (when I do, feel like a knife in my calf) and a general breakdown in other things from standing 24/7 at work and home.
Any tips would be welcome, so far I’ve tried:
– Pelvic Fault ‘Reset’ Work (big clunk sounds, but no progress)
– Smashing (All kinds)
– Flexion and External Rotation Piriformis ‘Stretching’
Any tips welcome, this is all becoming quite unbearable!
First off I would like to mention that disc herniations are common, even in the asymptomatic population and that they can heal with time and conservative treatment. The important thing is to keep moving and do what you can while symptoms resolve. Complete rest is never the fix. When symptoms are a bit flared up, a good place to start is by Googling the “McGill Big 3” exercises (curl-up, side plank, and bird-dog) and doing these daily. It’s a great way to reintroduce core stability for low back pain. Also getting up and walking throughout your day can be extremely helpful in maintaining the health of your spine. Try getting in 3 short 10 minute walks a day if you can. Try to eliminate optional sitting as well, which can be difficult. When you are sitting or standing, just try and not be in one position too long. I would keep addressing ankle and thoracic mobility, but also address hip mobility with mobilizations that don’t get into your low back or aggravate symptoms. Tight hips can also contribute to compensations like butt wink in your squat. Ease back into movements like goblet squatting, hip hinging, carries, etc making sure to keep working on your positions with good control. Gradually increase the load as you can tolerate. Patience and graded exposure are the name of the game. Let your body heal and keep moving and you should be able to get back to pain free squatting.