I've been a Massage Therapist in Perth, Fremantle and Margaret River for over 15 years. I've experienced good physical health for most of this time, apart from 3 years ago, when I discovered a disc bulge and sciatica!
In 2015, I was 6 months Post Partum with my 3rd child. I began to notice some numbness in my left foot when I pushed the pram on the 2k walk to school. I had some muscle tension in my back and hips and put it down to 3 pregnancies and poor posture whilst breastfeeding. You know, the slouching in the couch for hours on end feeding baby. I figured some stretching, increased exercise and self massage would help, right? Wrong!
The pain and numbness got worse to the point where I found sitting extremely painful and could barely walk. Yet I pushed on, eating far too many nurofen than I'd like to admit.
Finally I took myself to the GP, had an MRI and discovered a disc bulge in my lumbar spine that was irritating my sciatic nerve - hence the pain and numbness. The GP suggested surgery. I said no way. Needless to say, living with an injury that was getting progressively worse over time got me down. I couldn't move like I used to. I was frustrated and not sleeping well, but there was no way that I wanted to go under the knife.
I developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for pain - both the physical and emotional effects. And I set about developing my own healing plan based on experiment and intuition. I should note though, that the course of slow release anti-inflammatory medication that my GP prescribed me really helped to give my body the time and space it needed to break the pain/inflammation cycle and begin healing.
Here is how I overcame my Back Pain:
1. Gentle Exercise
I kept on moving, within my pain threshold. I googled and You Tubed some Feldenkrais exercises from a Physio Therapist in Perth and did these exercises daily, every day for a good 2months. I still do these exercises now, if I notice my back is feeling a bit tight. I also went to the local pool and walked in the water.
2. Massage Therapy
I received weekly Massage sessions from one of my staff at my Massage Clinic. Initially the sessions were lighter and more relaxation focused to soften the muscles and relax the nervous system. After about 4 sessions of this, the massages were more Remedial in nature, more specific, getting the restrictions out and working deeper into the soft tissues.
3. Get Adjusted
I also engaged in regular Chiropractic adjustments. The alignment of my spine and pelvis was completely out of balance and the trauma of the pain and pressure on the sciatic nerve and played havoc with my nervous system. I started off with once a week for 4 weeks and then every 10 days and then 3 weeks, until I only needed adjusting monthly. Now days I get adjusted periodically when I feel I need it.
4. Epsom salt baths
Twice a week I would soak in a deep, hot Epsom salt bath. This helped on 2 levels - 1, it was deeply relaxing and 2, Epsom salts contain magnesium. The body will heal itself quicker when it is in a state of relaxation. I love taking baths for relaxation, so soaking twice a week kept my stress levels at bay. Magnesium is a mineral which many people are deficient in and is needed for healthy muscle function. Taking a bath in epsom salts helps to increase magnesium levels through absorption.
Yep. Being patient with myself and my body. Learning to really listen to the signs and signals (pain, tension, restriction, lack of flexibility) my body was communicating with me and pulling back when I needed to, resting, restoring.
Healing takes time. In my case it was a good 6 months. Not one thing stood out more than the other, for me it was a combination of all of the above that helped my body to heal. And it is different for each person and every body, as is the severity of the injury. I thoroughly recommend investigation with your GP early, get the scans, rule out anything serious. And then be proactive about your healing.
In Fremantle you can book in with me for Remedial and Therapeutic Massage or Foot Reflexology for Relaxation may be of benefit to you. Fremantle Chiropractic have be in practice for 20 years and offer a great service to the Fremantle Community. Don't have a bath? Try Floating. Float Fremantle have amazing float pods that use an Epsom salt solution, a float is deeply relaxing and restorative. And there are plenty of free local opportunities to engage in your healing. South Beach, Bathers Beach, Leighton and North Fremantle all give rise to opportunities for gentle exercise - swimming, walking in the water or floating. You can meditate at the beach or at home. Or find a local gentle Yoga class.
It is possible to move through or overcome an injury or back pain by being proactive, patient and adopting a relaxed state of mind. It is important to make sure that your listen to your body when it whispers, so you don't have to hear it scream.