It all started about two weeks ago when I was cleaning the bath. While bending over I felt some tightness in my hamstring and glute appear. I have pulled muscles in the past as this was just a minor tweak. It just felt like I needed to stretch out a bit more than usual. I played hockey later that day and trained on it all week with no adverse effects. On Friday I was due to head up to Scotland on a running weekend that oddly I was really looking forward to. So the day before, I decided to go to my physio and get a sports massage to loosen off the hamstring a bit – big mistake!!!!!!
At the time the massage was good – very firm and temporarily really loosened off the tightness but the problems all started the next morning when leaving for the airport. I couldn’t walk I was in agony all down my left leg from the glute to the big toe. To cut a long story short the sports massage had inflamed the sciatic nerve – and yes it is as painful as it sounds.
Now I had heard of sciatica but never really knew what it was – I always just assumed that it was something other people (particularly old and unfit people) got – WRONG!
It turns out that the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet. When something compresses or irritates it causes pain. The most common cause is often a disk problem or as in my case a pyrifiromois issue (a muscle in the buttock linked to the hamstrings, which is tight and pressing on the nerve).
The weird thing about sciatica is that the pain hardly affects the back at all but radiates out from the lower back, down the buttocks and into one or both of the legs, right down to the calf. The best way to describe it is feels like trying to walk with pins and needles on a numb foot with someone stabbing you repeatedly in the buttock!
I realised fairly quickly I needed to get treatment but what sort of treatment? My physio who I would normally go to has moved out of the area and I wanted someone good so I went to see an osteopath who had treated me before for a bad back. I had never really known the difference between a physio and osteo but in general I have always gone to an osteo for a back issue and physio for a muscle/tendon issue.
The difference seems to be that osteopaths believe that the body has the capability to heal itself if the blockers to recovery are removed so they focus on the solving the root/underlying cause of the problem wherever in the body this may be. Physios on the other hand treat the condition where the pain is arising. This may explain why in the past a physio spent 3 months on my shoulder with no great result and an osteopath solved it in a day!
Anyway it turns out that in my case the underlying problem is related to a fall I had over a year ago on some concrete steps where I broke my coccyx. The sacrum was traumatised and the sacroiliac joint locked up which it has been ever since. Because I am fairly fit my body has been compensating for this but the added tension explains why I have been getting so many minor injuries. I have also been told that I carry too much tension in my feet so something else I need to work on!
I find this all quite interesting and have also believed that the body is a remarkable (and often mysterious) thing.
My recommendation to anyone who is picking up lots of niggles is to give the physio a miss for a bit and go have a session with an osteopath to try to find out identify the underlying problem. The cracking is not pleasant but it works.