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Sciatica, Rotator Cuff, Etc.

Posted by Dorothy on 1/18/05 at 14:27 (167479)

I said I would give some references and some exercises for the above. Please see previous post re. rotator cuff. I have been trying to put together a useful bibliography for you, based on my own library and reference materials, for these problems but I am getting impatient doing it because I have a bunch of stuff to get done today. A few days ago, I gave the URL for the spine-health website specific to sciatica and I think that has some excellent moves. I think that is where I got one of my favorites:Lie down on floor or bed, feet flat on floor, knees bent; gently pull right knee to chest. Place left hand on right knee and gently pull right knee across body toward left shoulder. Don't over pull or over stretch. Hold for a few seconds for gently stretch only as comfortable for you. Return foot to floor and repeat on other side.
Another move I like (I think came from Pilates, not sure anymore..) is: lie down on floor, arms down at sides, legs outstretched. Bend one knee (say, right) and bring it to chest, then begin to circle that leg in smallish circles out to side, across mid-body, back to chest; reverse directions. You can do this with straight leg if you have the strength and flexibilty or you can keep the knee bent and do this. Keep your abs. taut to support the back. Think about what you are doing, keeping in mind supporting your back and not overextending. I don't have written instructions for this, so I am just trying to mentally recreate what I do and this may not be entirely exact or clear. The concept is to release the hip, lower back, glutes tightness. Another one I like is to lie down on back, knees bent; cross one leg over the other knee (i.e. right leg at knee over left leg at knee - just as if you were sitting and crossing your legs); then very gently begin using the top leg to move the lower leg down toward the surface (floor or bed), giving a gentle stretch to the lower back, glutes, iliotibial band, piriformis, etc.; don't overstretch - just gently and slowly. Hold briefly, return to center and reverse legs and repeat.
Another lower back move that can relieve sciatica comes from the beloved video, 'Say Goodbye to Back Pain' (available at http://www.collagevideo.com) : Lie on your stomach, legs outstretched, toes turned inward, arms and elbows bent so that forehead/head is resting on hands. Take a deep breath and release. Tighten buttocks. Relax. Repeat this 3 times. This follows in their sequence and the immediately preceding exercise is done lying down on the side; bring the legs up into the fetal position. slide the top leg out/down the bottom leg; return to fetal position and then repeat three times. Reverse positions and repeat on other leg. I add a leg lift to this position, doing it both with leg/knee bent and then with leg straight. Then roll over onto stomach and do the exercise given above (tighten buttocks, release, etc...) After doing that, go back onto side and repeat the side movements given; then onto back for knee to chest and other lower back stretch/strengthen movements.
There are other very helpful moves on that VHS and I recommend that video highly. It looks a little dated and old-fashioned, but it works and is a very good product.

I realized that I have too many books - and I have mentioned a number of them before - on the subject of backs, PT, yoga, etc - but I use all of them at one time or another and they are like my arsenal that I rely on when I get in a pickle. One that is very recent though I will mention now because I think it looks like it's going to be a good, all-around 'helper.' I got it just a few months ago so it's new to the 'family' :-) It is:
'Instant Relief: Tell Me Where It Hurts and I'll Tell You What to Do' by Peggy W. Brill, P.T. (Bantam Books, June 2003). This book has good illustrations with clear, short text for a variety of exercises and stretches for all the body parts, including backs, feet, shoulders, etc...
What the book says about author Peggy W. Brill is: '..a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy. Her private practice, Brill Physical Therapy, has three offices, two in midtown Manhattan and one downtown. Her expertise is sought after by the Duke University men's basketball team, top executives all voer the workd, and leading physicians at the Hospital for Special Surgery and several other major medical centers. ...... Visit her website at http://www.brillpt.com.'

I should also mention - again - Robin McKenzie and the McKenzie method (he has several books out on this). His method is recommended for back pain and sciatica and emphasizes a kind of (yoga) 'cobra' or 'sphinx' move. I do this as part of my repertoire and there have been times when it has helped a lot - but not always. Nothing helps always, but everything seems to help at one time or another. The McKenzie method is a good set to incorporate, in my opinion, into one's repertoire.

I hope that these references, these exercises, and the various website references will lead you to good information.