Sciatica - what is it and is it ok to run?

ftm42ftm42 ✭✭✭
edited May 5 in Health + Injury
Been suffering from mild sciatica since at least January 2019. I ran a 56 minute 10K in Feb with slight pain in back which radiated down both hamstrings. Was running through it - oddly it seems / seemed to help as I find walking is more uncomfortable than running?

However, I had a bad incident after a yoga session a week ago last Thursday [so about 10 days ago] when getting up from the floor to go back to work! So not the yoga, but the getting up again! Hobbled back to work with a colleague who was also at the yoga session. Got worse during the afternoon but managed to get home OK.

The following morning was in so much pain I could hardly move, let alone walk. A nurse friend kindly gave me some diazapan which helped a little but didn't take the pain away. Just made me sleepy. Seen an osteopath and my regular sports physio who both said 'sciatica' but suggested that running should be OK as long as I'm gentle with myself but I'm not good at that!

Yesterday, we spent the day in London at a concert where I was up dancing a lot of the time [partly as I liked the band, but partly as my right hip and knee were sore and sitting down did not help]. This morning, I had seized up again - not as bad as first flare-up, [right hip felt very tight and some numbness down right hamstring] but bad enough to take some high-dose ibuprofen. Then seemed to take nearly 3 hours of walking about, stretching and doing  yoga session for sciatica before it calmed down.

Been for a gentle stroll in the woods with hubby and the dog this afternoon and still feel sore, but not the pain from this morning.

I stopped running altogether last week. I had a training schedule written up for me, but after discussion with my coach, he suggested that I take May 'off' running altogether and just rest and stretch. Plan is to pick up again in June. Having spent nearly 4 years sorting out a chronic knee problem, I am angry that my body is now letting me down in a different way.

Does anyone run with sciatica, or is it a hopeless cause? Should I just be patient and hope? After a few years of DNS's, it looks like most of my summer 'races / fun runs' are likely to be DNSs again.


  • YnnecYnnec ✭✭✭
    edited May 5
    ftm42 said:

    Seen an osteopath and my regular sports physio who both said 'sciatica' but suggested that running should be OK as long as I'm gentle with myself
    I think that's the answer to your question that you don't want to hear. 
    ftm42 said:

    A nurse friend kindly gave me some diazapan which helped a little but didn't take the pain away. Just made me sleepy.
    I'm a lover of benzos, but don't go down that route if you can avoid it.

    All the best
  • CalletCallet ✭✭
    Everyone’s back problems are different but don’t get too despondent. In my case, I’ve suffered from chronic back pain for about 25 years and bizarrely I’ve found the best way to keep it at bay is by running. My osteopath has come to the same conclusion that movement such as running actually helps in my case. Like you, I’ve also had a few times where back spasms make it impossible to do much, and I’ve also had to resort to diazepam and even coproxemal (before they banned it) but after a short time of rest I’ve managed to resume running. Sounds like you're doing the right things by practising yoga. I’ve ve found that ice packs and heated wheatbags also really help alot. Obviously we’re all different so it’s tricky to generalise but keep the faith - it certainly is possible.
    Good luck! :)
  • ftm42ftm42 ✭✭✭

    Ran a 5K charity run last night - right knee 'went' at 2K but I carried on. Some cramps in legs. Once I finished, iced knee; stretched out back etc.

    This morning back feels like it's seizing up again and is about to pop. [It did go 2 weeks ago]

    'Trainer' says stop altogether; sportsphysio [herself a runner] says - keep stretching and take next run really easy; DH is a total non-exerciser [he's very overweight and let's be frank, lazy when it comes to anything that might raise his heartrate] and is totally unsympathetic.

    I'm just confused. Should I stop altogether and get fat on chocolate; keep running but do less and slower [even though I do little and don't run fast]; find something else to do after 35+ years as a runner?

    I've been doing really well - PBd at parkrun and at 10K in Feb, but all with nagging pain all the time. I'm sure mostly down to having a desk job for the last 3 years, so I get so stiff.

    Feeling v down [rum n coke sort of down] and could do with some positive thoughts please!

    Mileage for this month = 8.7 yes, that's all
  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    I feel your pain, I have many DNS. How about taking a complete break, keeping fit by cycling, swimming and really concentrating on SC? Then start again with C25K? Alternatively do you have access to an Alter G treadmill? Might be a way back as you can increase and decrease the intensity really quickly and also work on your style. 
  • ftm42ftm42 ✭✭✭
    Thought I'd give you a little update. I ran a 10K last weekend [against advice] that I have done 2x before, so knew what to expect. At 4K I started walk/run/jogging and didn't get going again. I finished 30 seconds over the hour [a good 5+ minutes off my usual time] and then almost collapsed. Tried to lie down and stretch but just could not stop the world spinning. I had been in my 'usual' pain, but up to now, I have never had to actually resort to walking. On top of this I didn't help myself by running a morning 10K after a 'breakfast' of 1 painkiller, sip of tea and a shortcake biscuit. [stoopid]

    Fortunately a fellow club runner's son was at the finish and I sent him off to get me an ice-cream for a much needed sugar hit. Once I'd had that I was OK.

    I have since stopped any exercise altogether [apart from walking to work and the odd cycle ride] to try to get things to settle. After chatting to my GP [on coach's advice] she thinks it could be spinal stenosis [trying not to google it too much but doesn't look like a nice thing to have].

    I am now awaiting a blood test [might just be an electrolyte imbalance?] and a referral to the spinal unit at the local hospital.

    I'll keep you posted!
  • ftm42ftm42 ✭✭✭
    Bloods were negative. Still not even had a letter with an appointment yet from hospital. Done a couple of 2Ks just round the block which felt as if my legs aren't turning over + felt exhausted. Surely I can't have lost fitness that quickly?

    Now I'm thinking of just running with painkillers if necessary as it might take ages to see spinal unit + I'm scared they'll just say there's nothing wrong.

    Back seems better but so so stiff. Can't touch my toes any more + can barely get down to my knees when doing yoga.

    (Did I say I was scared there's nothing wrong...?)
  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    Ftm42 unfortunately you can lose fitness very quickly. Are you able to pool jog? Use the cross trainer? Both would allow you to keep some fitness without putting your body under the pressure of running. Pool jogging is really good for you, bit can be a little boring!
  • I've previously experienced similar. Try stretching with a yoga 'pigeon' pose (or modified kneeling pigeon if you're tight in the hips like me). Helps a little bit as do band walks to fire up the glutes.
  • ftm42ftm42 ✭✭✭
    edited June 12
    Found out today, after 5 calls to different departments, that I have been referred for an MRI scan, BUT they wouldn't say what date the letter has given me; there's a 4-6 week wait; then you have to wait 3 weeks for the results.

     If I add in the nearly 3 weeks already waited, I'll be doing my head in if I can't run until then. If they then say there's nothing wrong + I need to go down a different route, I'll have wasted the entire summer!

    My plan now is to get back running (even short distances will keep me sane) with painkillers if I need to, and keep seeing my physio. I'm not sitting around waiting for someone to say there's nothing wrong.

    If there is a diagnosable issue I'll cope with that when it comes.

    Unless I go private of course...
  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    In my experience, if you go private you will need to have a consultation with a consultant, they will refer you, you will have the MRI, then you will wait two weeks for the results, and you will need another appointment with the consultant. Given where you are it is most likely going to be quicker to wait for the NHS. Costs about £150 each time you see a private consultant plus about £500 for the MRI. 
  • ftm42ftm42 ✭✭✭
    Food for thought TT. My health cover is a cashback scheme that only pays a limited amount. £300 for an MRI being one of the figures. So a choice between running anyway so I stay sane until the scan, or give up running + wait, knowing I'll be mega [email protected] off if the results aren't conclusive.

     Given that I've been running with it for months anyway, I might as well carry on doing what I can.
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