General Discussion Triathlon Talk » What fixed my sciatic nerve problem Rss Feed  
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2013-12-16 1:16 PM

Griswold, Connecticut
Subject: What fixed my sciatic nerve problem
In college (late 90s) we ran a lot (Naval Academy). I ended up with a double Achilles injury at one point. I also ended up in PT for sciatic nerve pain. Then I went to the fleet, gained weight, quit working out, etc. In 2009, I got into Tris and lost 30 lbs. For about the first 2 years, everything was great. No real injuries or problems.
Then, in 2012 injuries started. Subtle at first. More tightness than normal. Then the sciatic nerve pain returned. In particular, after a fast run like a 5k race. I started stretching more and tried to get around the problem. By the fall of 2012, I was back in PT and completely off running trying to fix the now constant sciatic nerve pain. The PT didn't really help. The stretching provided only a short duration of relief. After 3 months of no running, I was given the OK to return to training, SLOWLY. I did. But 1 month later, I suffered a serious concussion and running was put on hold again.

Fast forward to recently. While I am not over the concussion, I have decided to give up on waiting and just run anyways. The intelligence of that approach can be debated. However, I was still having sciatic pain, and I wasn't even running. Then, one day in the gym, I was on a treadmill with a mirror in front of me. I noticed my right foot turned to the outside at about a 20 degree angle as I ran. For the next few minutes, I forced myself to twist my foot straight. When I got off the treadmill, I could feel how dramatic the difference was in the improvement of my sciatic nerve pain. So I started trying to understand what was going on. I was already in the process of listening to Born to Run on an audio book and then followed that with Running with the Kenyans. The more I read about "barefoot" running, the more I thought I wanted to give it a try.

So, I went to a local store and found a pair of Merrill M Connect shoes, which are a minimalist shoe that encourages a midfoot strike instead of the heel first strike. I took them back to the gym and ran for a few minutes on the indoor track. It was amazing. I immediately transitioned away from heel first landing. And it felt awesome. It felt easier and faster. I was careful not to overdo it, but over the next couple of weeks, I kept doing some easy runs of 20 minutes or less. However, the most amazing realization was, my sciatic nerve pain was gone. The first day I ran in the new shoes, I had NO sciatic nerve pain for 48 hours. Since then, I can actually feel the stretching in my right hip as my foot is realigning with the natural motion it had lost.

What fixed my sciatic nerve problem? Running. And not landing on my heel.

Edited by sawfish99 2013-12-16 1:30 PM
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