Aches and pains: Our bodies are puzzles each of us has to figure out for ourselves

by Jay Hiller August 7, 2022

Photo by Ross Sneddon on Unsplash

For about 2 weeks, I’ve been living with mild sciatic discomfort, literally a pain in the butt. I’ve had sciatica to varying degrees for about 25 years now. Sometimes, I won’t have to deal with it at all for months or years. At other times, more often in the past and less frequently now that I’ve learned to manage it, I’m aware of the discomfort almost all the time. Learning to manage this condition has been like a puzzle, that I’ve been working over a period of years. I’ve tried different exercises, yoga positions and other tools. Some have worked. Some haven’t. And I now have a pretty good set of things I know to do that work for my body at the first sign that sciatica is back. The puzzle’s not completely solved and will probably never be, but it’s close enough.

All of us have idiosyncrasies in our bodies that can lead to discomfort of pain. In many cases, it’s unlikely that it’s necessary or even helpful to completely stop moving. (By the way, that was the first puzzle piece I tried when I first experienced sciatic pain. It didn’t work at all.) Some of the puzzle pieces we can try are decreasing load, stretching, strengthening, foam rollering, getting a massage, seeing a physician, physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist. Keeping in mind that I’m not a doctor or a physical therapist, in my own body I’ve found that pain many times is due to muscular weakness and the pain is from another muscle that is being asked to do a job it’s not meant to do.

An important puzzle piece for me has been access to skilled yoga teachers, massage therapists and acupuncturists who have helped me at times of acute pain, certainly. But more important than that has been information and instruction from those professionals that has helped me work the puzzle out for myself.

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