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Lifting weights with sciatica

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by 7dani4, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. 7dani4

    7dani4 Peer Supporter

    Hey there everyone!

    I'm new to these forums -- just discovered Dr John Sarno's book Healing the Back yesterday and after reading the first 40-50 pages immediately felt mental/physical relief.

    I've been suffering from sciatica for 2 months now. At first I felt it in my right lower back/hip, trained through it, made it worse (deadlifting through the pain), then when it got better my left hip started hurting a bit. The next day when I was walking pain suddenly started out of nowhere -- debilitating pain in my left hip, which then moved around both hips and down both legs. It's bearable now but working out makes it worse and working out is my favorite thing to do (also curbs my negative emotions) -- so you can see how this sent me in a massive spiral of depression.

    When I read the book I realized that the time I got the pain, I was going through a lot of stuff. Exams, relationship troubles, worries about my future, family issues, etc. I've always been a huuuuge worrier. I've been suffering from anxiety + depression for years, extreme mental turmoil -- seemingly out of nowhere because when I look at my life objectively, there's nothing to worry about. At all. And though I realize this my mind obviously doesn't haha.

    If I think about it, my sciatica is worse when I worry, and I feel I'm healing when I'm calm (too bad I'm rarely calm). These past few days I've been getting myself riled up over posture, vitamins, etc, anything that could make my self-diagnosed herniated disc worse. I've been scaring myself with horror-stories of chronic back pain, worrying I'd never be able to work out again.

    But today my pain is 98% gone, and Sarno recommends you get into exercise or the activity you ceased doing, so I may try to get back to lifting weights this Wednesday. I stopped this for 2 months due to my "herniated disc" and fear of making it worse. However, I'm terrified that I do in fact have a back problem due to the disc and lifting heavy weights will make it worse, as it has done before when I tried lifting.

    What does everyone suggest? Do I try getting back into it? Will avoiding it out of fear make me worse or put me at a standstill where I'm neither getting better nor worse, as I have been for the past few weeks?

  2. intense50

    intense50 Well known member

    I too have sciatica and for me its been just being patient 1 day at a time. Don't push it. I would walk the best I could then break. Keep reading ,
    for me that works its like when you see a movie a second time you see stuff you missed. If you can do the 30 program it helps. My peeve is jogging. I really want to jog but as soon as I start my left hamstring bites hard so now I've started just jogging in place stationary to get used to it.
    My recommendation for you is to go through the motions maybe no weights just the bar to show your body'' see no problem'' with this movement. Go slow, reward yourself. Do other things to get warmed up. Look up success stories.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Dani, I wouldn't worry about lifting weights and feeling pain. I think it's much more important to be physically active... jogging in place is fine. You can work that up into more strenuous jogging.

    If you want to keep lifting weights, be sure to do it slowly and work up to heavier weights.

    Looks like you and Intense have a lot in common and can help each other heal.
  4. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Don't be in such a rush, Dani. Rome wasn't built in a day and your sciatica didn't start without a whole bunch of emotional preconditions preceding it's onset. You just can't fix by going back full blast Wednesday. If I were you, I'd take my time and listen to what my body was trying to tell me about my emotional states, which are, after all, what's driving your sciatica and pain syndromes. Reprogramming behavior patterns based on long-standing emotional issues doesn't take place with the flick of a magic wand. By the way, I lift weights most every day, sometimes as many as 14 weight stations plus bouldering in the rock climbing gym every few days, and what I've noticed is that the pain in my left leg varies according to emotional, not physical coordinates. For instance, I was doing really, really well until last week when my left leg started to hurt and get stiff again. What happened? I talked to a real estate agent about selling my late mother's house. Guilt and emotional issues left over from childhood like being a good son were the real culprits, not lifting heavy weights.
  5. 7dani4

    7dani4 Peer Supporter

    Thanks everyone who has replied so far! :)

    Cardio actually helps for some reason, don't really get pain from it. It's just lifting weights which even if done with perfect form hurts.

    I will go in on Wednesday but go light to find a starting point and build up my strength back to what it was.

    I do have a lot of emotional issues, guilt being one of them from my childhood. I've always told myself that I can deal with them but obviously not since this pain started haha.

    Seems like the left hamstring is painful for a lot of people with sciatica. It's exactly there that hurts even if I'm just squatting light weight.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    The "reason" I think is oxygen. If, as Dr Sarno hypothesizes, TMS pain is due to slightly reduced oxygen flow to the extremities, it would be logical to assume that cardio by improving oxygen-rich blood flow would reduce TMS pain.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
    Karen likes this.
  7. 7dani4

    7dani4 Peer Supporter

    Yeah, the book answered so many of the inconsistencies and questions I had with my pain.
    Like apparently you're supposed to avoid hot baths with a herniated disc, but hot baths give me huge relief from pain and I always come out feeling healed for a few hours.
  8. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Why exactly?
  9. 7dani4

    7dani4 Peer Supporter

    I don't know exactly, think it was something to do with inflammation.
  10. 7dani4

    7dani4 Peer Supporter

    Hey guys, I thought I'd update.

    I went back to the gym today and went all out -- unrestricted lifting. I did squats, bench and deadlifts as heavy as I could (proper form of course), and there was nearly no pain! I got a bit of sciatic pain during squats and a cramp during bench, but it quickly went away when I started reminding myself of TMS and what it is, and how my pain isn't from a injury.

    I feel great! I haven't felt this good in months, possibly years. Beating my 2 month long back problems in just a few days and being able to do my favorite thing again is exhilarating!

    I noticed that over the course of the day, after the gym, I had pains in all different places. Upper back, shoulders, stomach ache, headache... never at the same time though. Every time I reminded myself of TMS the pain stopped and moved to a different area. Now I'm feeling pain in my leg exactly like the "growing pains" I had as a child.

    My chronic upper back pain, which I'd assumed was due to incorrect past deadlift form (I corrected my form a year ago but the pain persisted) is just gone.

    This has literally saved me. Working out was all I could do to release all my tension and negative emotions, and not doing it for months made me a complete, nearly suicidal mess. I'm happy I can be happy again!

    BruceMC likes this.
  11. intense50

    intense50 Well known member

    Keep smiling !!!!Life is good!
  12. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I too just got back from the gym and my every-other-day leg weight workout. What I notice is that strenuous exercise has nothing whatsoever to do with TMS. Although vigorous exercise can distract you from the underlying psychological causes of TMS, the real causes are unresolved internalized emotional conflicts. The real reason my left leg got weak and painful last week was because I was talking to a Realtor about selling my late parents' house, not because of any physical workout I was doing at the time. Of course, the exercise might help get some oxygen into those painful areas, but it's not the primary cause of TMS pain.
  13. 7dani4

    7dani4 Peer Supporter

    Final update -- pain is completely gone, 100%! I've nearly gained all my lost strength back and can do anything I could before the injury.

    I'm so grateful it's unbelievable. Will buy a copy of the book for each family member lol. There are a few worriers who are always in pain for no reason.

    Thanks again guys!! :)
    Hen likes this.
  14. 7dani4

    7dani4 Peer Supporter

    An update a month later...

    Zero pain, sometimes I get sudden pain around my hips or my shoulders and chest but I know it's TMS and as soon as I tell myself that it goes away. If I do get this pain it's only when I'm stressed. All injuries in general are healing faster. It's great not worrying about pain!

    All my lost strength is back and I'm ever stronger in terms of weight lifting.

    Thanks everyone!! To think that I could've been worse now if I hadn't discovered the book!
    BruceMC likes this.

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