BLOG, INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
Resources, discussions and information produced by Charlotte Lattin - Level 5 Sports, Remedial and Holistic Massage and Soft Tissue Therapist, Movement Coach, Psychologist, Runner, Swimmer, Yoga practitioner, Lover of Outdoors, Mum to 4 children, Owner of a crazy dog (and a couple of other dogs) and fascinated by all things to do with how our bodies and minds work...
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Lower back pain and sciatica can be excruciating and can be caused by various different factors - poor posture, tight muscles, alignment issues or a weak core.
It can be tempting to stay in bed as movement can be painful but this is not going to help in the long term. So what is?
Massage, postural assessment and exercises designed to help the body to move as it is meant to are key to recovery but there is also a lot that you can do to help yourself.
Check out the advice from the NHS below and work on an exercise routine based on some of these stretches. It would also be useful to get some advice from a professional (GP, massage therapist etc.) to find out whether these are suitable for you as an individual and what else you can do for your specific circumstances.
It can sometimes be a simple cause or often it is a more complicated process to find out what is going on and how best to get you back to fully mobile but it is possible (and no need to just take loads of medication for evermore - though this can be helpful in acute phases).
Exercises for sciatica
This exercise routine is designed to help relieve sciatica – a pain caused by the irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, all the way down both legs, ending at your feet.These stretches help to mobilise the sciatic nerve and improve lower back flexibility.
When starting out, go gently to get used to the movements and work out how far you can go into each position without feeling pain.
Aim to do this routine at least once a day if the pain allows. You can complement this routine with walking, cycling and water-based activities.
You're advised to seek medical advice before starting these exercises for sciatica, and stop immediately if you feel any pain.
Knee to chest stretch
Improves the flexibility of your lower back
Start position: Lie on your back on a mat or the carpet. Place a small, flat cushion or book under your head. Bend your knees and keep your feet straight and hip-width apart. Keep your upper body relaxed and your chin gently tucked in.
Action: Bend one knee up towards your chest and grasp your knee with both hands. Slowly increase this stretch as comfort allows. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds with controlled deep breaths.
Repeat three times, alternating legs.
Sciatic mobilising stretch
Mobilises the sciatic nerve and hamstrings
Start position: Lie on your back. Place a small, flat cushion or book under your head. Bend your knees and keep your feet straight and hip-width apart. Keep your upper body relaxed and your chin gently tucked in.
Action: Bend one knee up towards your chest and grasp your hamstring with both hands. Slowly straighten the knee while bringing your foot towards you. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, taking deep breaths. Bend the knee and return to the starting position.
Repeat two or three times, alternating legs.
Stretches and mobilises the spine backwards
Start position: Lie on your stomach and prop yourself on your elbows, lengthening your spine. Keep your shoulders back and neck long.
Action: Keeping your neck long, arch your back up by pushing down on your hands. You should feel a gentle stretch in the stomach muscles as you arch up. Breathe and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to the starting position.
Repeat 8 to 10 times.
Stretches and lengthens the hamstring muscles
Start position: Stand upright and raise one leg on to a stable object, such as a step. Keep that leg straight and your toes pointing straight up.
Action: Lean forward while keeping your back straight. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds while taking deep breaths.
Repeat two to three times with each leg.
Stretches and lengthens the piriformis muscle
Start position: Lie on your back. Place a small, flat cushion or book under your head. Bend your left leg and rest your right foot on your left thigh.
Action: Grasp your left thigh and pull it towards you. Keep your tailbone on the floor throughout and your hips straight. You should feel the stretch in the right buttock. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds while taking deep breaths.
Repeat two to three times.
For more advice and a free consultation drop me a line or call me on 07725 334604.
So what have abs got to do with shoulders I hear you ask..? I've been trying out a new method of shoulder injury rehabilitation that involves more ab work (no, not crunches and sit-ups) and hanging around than you might expect. It might be worth reading on as there are many people (maybe you) who don't have good range of movement in the shoulder and are at risk of injury..the key is to work on posture and movement rather than stopping moving (which is tempting).
I have had a slight shoulder issue (rotator cuff strain) that I have been taking a new approach to treating - I have had massage and also am carrying out self-massage techniques to the area (read on for more details) but have also been working on alignment, strength training and building a solid core (it needs work but it's getting stronger so it can be done even for someone pushing forty with 4 children so no excuses ladies - or gentlemen!)
So, the key to functional and injury free movement is a stable base (and happy muscles - massage is part of my rehab too). Your shoulder and pelvis both require a solid foundation to move freely from without moving too far out of proper alignment - that's where your abs come in. Does this mean hundreds of crunches? NO!!! Crunches can actually lead to injury if not carried out properly (pulling on your neck or arching your back for example). Want to have a go? Try these exercises instead:
1. Plank - an old one but a good one - several variations are possible and you can add complexity by adding leg movements
2. Leg raises - single alternating or double leg raises work the lower abs
3. Superman - these work the other side of your core (the muscles running along your back are also an integral part of core strength)
4. Dead bugs - sounds weird but good and effective
What about the shoulder?? Well, for effective shoulder movement you need to have your shoulder in correct alignment - this might mean you need some massage to loosen tight muscles and help to train the shoulder into the right place and gain range of motion around the joint. If you can't raise your shoulder above your head this might be important before you do more. You can also try stretches and using a ball around the shoulder to self-massage (see my stretches pages for some good stretch ideas or ask me!)
What next? A great way to get correct movement and add strength in the shoulder is to practise Y, T, W moves whilst lying down on the floor...Keeping your core engaged raise your arms above your head making a Y shape (yes, all you YMCA dancers...fancy dress optional) and hold this for a second or two, then move arms out to the side parallel to each other - that's your T position, hold that for a second or two then move onto the W - arms bent elbows in line with the body and hands out next to your shoulders. Repeat 10 times (that should warm you up!). That might be enough for you but if not try hanging out...
Hanging - from a bar or (my personal favourite) rings allows you to stretch out the shoulder area and lats and move the shoulder carefully whilst applying some downward force (i.e. this is a GREAT stretch). This helps to set your shoulder back into the right alignment (sitting hunched over that desk tends to draw your shoulders forward and cause decreased range of movement...
You can then try some more stretches and swing about on that bar/rings...not got any rings? Come down to UTC Oxfordshire Sport and have a go there (if you're local) or head to your nearest park/playground. If you want advice on using these for shoulder strength and mobility ask for more information.
I'll try to keep you posted with the ab strength and work towards some impressive calisthenics moves if I can (new years goals coming out there...was meant to keep them hush hush in case I fail!)
Hopefully this is more than a New Year blah blah do some exercise blog (though of course I endorse that) but actually more about this being the year that I have already made some big decisions and hope it will be the best year for me so far.
Followers of the blog may have realised that I was not very well for some of last year, with weird hormonal overloads possibly caused by a lack of balance in work/life/family etc. BUT things are on the way up.
Now these health improvements haven't come without some work (diet, rest, supplements and some (but not over-doing it) exercise), as well as taking some time to focus on what I want and need in life and health.
Having taken time to work on myself a bit I have finally made the decision to work in massage full time, ditching the pscyhology job (yesterday!!) and taking the plunge to being fully self-employed.
This was not an impulsive decision but still feels pretty scary but despite this there are some really good aspects to this. Working at UTC Oxfordshire Sport can now increase to 3 evenings and a Saturday morning a week - which is good as the demand is high, especially with all the new gym-goers up there in 2017 so far.
I am working in Reading at Ayurveda Retreat doing sports and Ayurvedic Massage on Wednesdays (some great treatments available here and it keeps my holistic and pampering practice going) AND a new venue starting next week, sports massage at the The Body Sculpture Studio in the beautiful Aynho Park (if you're anywhere near come this is worth checking out).
Other plans for 2017 are completing my personal training qualification (if you see me please nag me, this needs doing, especially so I can help out some of my clients with stretch and strengthen classes!) and completing my Thai Yoga Massage certificate. I am looking out for 'dummies' for Thai Massage so if you're interested get your name down.
Exciting times ahead and also a bit of time to work on my own fitness and hang out with my family.
Have you thought about how you can stay healthy this year? Whatever your plans are massage can help in so many ways, these are just a few:
Book yourself in - give me a call or book online via the website.