One important part of playing in the outdoors is maintaining a level of physical fitness. As anyone will state, as soon as an injury or sickness is experienced there is nothing more important than your health. Two years ago while snowmobiling, I herniated my L4-5 lumbar discs (lower back) which in turn caused major back pain and sciatica (pain, weakness or numbness caused by pressure on the sciatic nerves that run down your legs). After a massive physiotherapy bill and time I was back to doing my regular outdoor routine. However as things tend to slip and the weekend warrior in me wasn’t getting to the gym as much, some recent skiing and surfing incident(s) put me right back in the position where I wasn’t even able to put on shoes, get dressed or more than three hours of sleep because it was too painful to lay down or sit with the sciatica I now had in BOTH legs.
So with summer coming up and all the fun activities that go with, I’m kicking the stubborn part of me that figures I’ll just work through the pain in the butt and am trying a more proactive method to get this back on track and hopefully avoid a painful surgery. I figured I’d share some basic learnings from the research I’ve been doing because this is a very common problem for people between the ages of 30 to 45! Prevention and maintenance is the best way to avoid damaging the injury further so here are some of the tips and tricks to help healing herniated discs if you’re experiencing the same problem.
For yoga back relief exercises click here
Ever tried Yoga? The simple moves demonstrated above are used in certain sequences of yoga practice and can be used to relieve back pain and help strengthen core and back muscles. To get some relief I do these simple moves for 10 minutes every hour. (Tip: a yoga mat at the office is extremely helpful, maybe looks silly but sitting for 2-4 hours without a break will not feel like a joke). During initial recovery of the back injury (first two weeks) I would suggest just doing the simple exercises and not completing an entire yoga session, it could end up doing more harm than good.
Protect the Core
A key element to helping your spine and protecting it from all the bumps, shocks and jarring that it absorbs when you are out playing is to develop a strong core. Abdominal exercises may not be your favourite and other than a 6 pack being your goal, building up your core muscles will help heal and protect your back from a reoccurrence of the injury. Don’t forget that with all core exercises you need to counterbalance with muscle building, back exercises to build up a proper suit of armour.
For core stabilizing exercies click here
As much as I hate to swim laps, aqua therapy once again proves to be highly effective in maintaining and improving muscle tone with minimal impact to the spinal column, allowing the herniated discs to heal while you work on protecting your core.
Lastly avoid sitting for extended periods, try and stand or stretch at least every hour. Consistency will pay off and the injury will heal much faster, however realize that it could be up to 6 months until the discs are fully healed so take care, and you will have many more adventures ahead of you!