This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in December of 2021. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT_o2BPmU6o&t=70s
Bob: Let’s talk about sciatica. Let’s get some relief to people out there.
Brad: Right. When you have sciatica, pain from the back running down the leg, and you want to put the kibosh on it, and at least get some relief so that you can get through that pain. We’re not going to talk about necessarily a treatment plan, but three different options that you can oftentimes do throughout the day to find some relief. You should be able to find something, some position, that works for you. So, with sciatica, we’re talking almost always about the lower two vertebrae.
Bob: L4, L5, or L5, S1.
Brad: And we find out that if you can position the spine in a certain way by going one way or the other, forward or backward subtly, or even decompression where you pull the spine apart, you can relieve the pressure on that nerve. The pain will drop significantly. And that is a nice way to manage it throughout the day.
Bob: Well a lot of times if you can string a bunch of them together, you’ll find out suddenly, that your pain is gone.
Brad: Right, that’s true as well. Yeah, you just have to work with it, and we’re going to show you three different options. We’ve got some subgroups in there. But the four minutes on the title, it might take three and a half. Once you get good at that one you might go down to two. The first time it might take four minutes and 40 seconds. But one way or another it’s just a ballpark figure. So the first one, shall we start with lying down?
Bob: Okay. So we’re going to start supine.
Brad: So you can lie there in bed or you could do this on a couch possibly if it's not too soft. The first thing that we’re going to talk about is just lying on your back and getting some pillows underneath your legs.
Bob: Just one leg or both legs?
Brad: Both, you might even want three pillows, depending on how thick your pillows are. And that may be enough to let that pain settle down. It kind of depends. You may want to shift around a little bit. I had this work with a lot of people, if they say this isn’t high enough, and they’re able to get around, lie down next to a piece of furniture, and get their feet up.
Bob: He’s talking about an ottoman or a footstool.
Brad: Or even a chair if you can, even a soft cushy chair that’s in your living room. Something of that nature. I’ve had good success with this position.
Bob: Right, and you yourself would often put a cold pack under your back with this.
Brad: So that’s always an option as well, a nice gel cold pack. You don’t want to get one made out of frozen peas or something of that nature. And you just lie there as long as you feel comfortable, you might be there for 5, 10, even 15 minutes. And just let things settle down. Then you can get up and move carefully. Is there anything else?
Bob: The leg wedge is actually made for this purpose. Now we don’t understand why, but for some reason, it feels better when you have this little slant here.
Brad: That contact against the hamstrings, it just allows you to relax more. You can buy these online, they cost about $30, somewhere in there. But if one of these other options works, this will probably work even better. And it’s up to you, the other ones are just fine.
Bob: You don’t have to have so many pillows on your bed then.
Brad: Exactly, you can give them back to the kids.
Bob: Now prone?
Brad: Yes, prone. Now lying on your stomach with sciatica all by itself can oftentimes relieve the stress in the back and get that leg pain to go away. Sometimes you have to lie down and just lay there for 30 seconds to a minute before you get things to settle out. And then if it doesn’t, there are a few little tricks that w. First of all, you can try going back to the pillows.
Bob: If it’s too much to lie there without a pillow. Try a pillow first. Put it under your abdomen and see what happens.
Brad: Yeah if it feels better you could try two.
Bob: You can also, once you progress away from the pillow, get up onto your fist. You can try putting your fist underneath your chin. And then you can actually go to two fists if that feels okay. And then the next progression would actually be the prone prop where you actually get up on your elbows.
Brad: And you can experiment with each of these and find which way gets rid of the leg pain and makes things feel better. Do you want to show them the roadkill trick from our course?
Bob: Sure. So let’s say the pain is on my left side. You can actually try bringing your leg up. And I’m taking my left foot and putting it on my right knee. And you’ll find out this for some reason, well we understand why, but this will actually reduce your pain quite often.
Brad: Right, and if it does, it’ll happen relatively quickly within 10 to 15 seconds.
Bob: And obviously if it’s the other side, you’d go to the other side.
Brad: And if you want to just do a shift with your hips to the right or to the left. If it’s on your left leg, usually you just slide your hips gently to the right. And you wait 10 to 15 seconds and people will say “Oh yeah, it feels like the pain is coming out of the leg and moving up.” That’s a really good thing. And then you’re going to redo this every hour or so.
Bob: So basically you’re turning your body into a banana. Yeah if we take the camera and look from the top.
Brad: All right, now finally, this last thing is we talked about the decompression or the traction options. There are a lot of different options for that. We’ll show you the easiest and the cheapest way to do it.
Bob: Oh I forgot to mention this one. So side lying, this is one where you put the painful leg on top and you actually put a pillow or two or a Pete’s Choice Pad underneath. And quite often, this takes away the pain and it actually will allow you to sleep sometimes.
Brad: Right yeah if you can’t sleep. So here we have the Pete’s Choice pad. You could use the pillow as well. The good old Pete’s Choice. I got one of these for my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas because they were working on a house project and they were working on the floorboards and they’re on their knees all the time.
Bob: They probably think kindly of you.
Brad: Yeah they’re grateful. So let’s carry on with the decompression or the traction options.
Bob: All right, and one is, you could just use any two regular chairs. And the reason is, it’s the seat pan that we’re worried about.
Brad: Right, you want to have a solid surface, you’ll see. So you’ll get down here gently, hands on the seats. Now, watch my knees, and everything is the right height. I’m just going to relax my core, so that we get the traction on the low back, push up with my arms, and there we have traction through the back. Now if you find that you’re too short and the chairs are too high, you can put a pillow or something. I’m going to use Pete’s Choice pad. Just anything that gets you up. The idea is you don’t have your elbow too bent pushing up, or you’re not reaching down. You’re at the right height. That you kind of have to fiddle with depending on your height.
Bob: Now if you have a solid object, like a countertop, or if you find a bench that is cemented in like at the park, you could lean on the back of it, and just lean forward to get the decompression. This will help you. Stuart McGill talks about that one.
Brad: Now the other thing that works kind of neat is just, if you have a pull-up bar, you have some hanging handles, anything where you can suspend your body weight. But Bob, wouldn’t you agree, the key thing with this is that you have to do it with a very controlled motion.
Bob: That's why you start with your feet planted on the ground. It can slowly lower you down. And that’s going to allow you to relax and really allow the midsection to relax. And therefore you can get some traction.
Brad: And if things are feeling good, you can experiment a little bit with trying to shift your hips right or left or do a slight rotation, but the only reason you’re going to do that, is if it clearly makes it feel better. Either it takes the leg pain away or decreases it. Because you might want to hang and just go to the right if the leg feels clearly better with that, or just straight. And you’ll be there, your hands will probably tire out before anything, 30 seconds or so.
Bob: It’s a great thing you can do every hour if you need to just to give yourself a little relief. So the final?
Brad: The option is the old inversion table. I shouldn’t say old, they’ve been around for a while. But they can work really well. The bad part about it is I would not go out and buy one if you’ve never used one. You could, but if it doesn’t work.
Bob: It would behoove you to maybe go to a neighbor or somebody who has one and try one once. I had one for a couple of years. It’s the Teeter, by the way, a very good product.
Brad: The Teeter is built really well. But I’ve had a number of patients who just swear by their inversion table. It worked well for me for a couple of years with my spondy, things started to settle down, I didn’t need it anymore and I sold it used. But here we go. And I typically never advise anybody to go into a full inversion. I think, like about 60 degrees, is good enough. But I know some people who go straight up and down. And I could go there. I figure, if you got enough here, which I’ve always had enough, and the people I’ve worked with, be conservative. And if you haven’t done one of these, I would never go full inversion. Don’t hang too long.
Bob: Yes, probably start with just a minute or two.
Brad: If you’ve got eye problems you’re not going to use it. If you’ve got blood pressure problems you’re not going to use it. You really should consult your doctor and make sure you don’t have anything wrong with you. If you’re a completely healthy person, you’re probably fine.
Bob: And, an interesting fact, this is called a Teeter, cause it looks like a teeter-totter, right? But the guy who invented it, his name is Teeter.
Brad: I really wonder if he changed his name after he invented this. I don’t know. I don’t think he invented the whole system but whatever. He’s got a sense of humor, we think. He doesn’t mind if we say that.
Bob: Remember, Brad and I can fix just about anything.
Brad: Except for a broken heart. There you go. Be careful.
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