Preventing Sciatica In Young Athletes

Preventing Sciatica In Young Athletes

A guide for those suffering from chronic back pain.

Tears, aches, bruises and bumps can be unfortunately common for athletes. For many contact sports, it comes with the territory. Athletes who are afflicted with chronic and acute back pain face a recovery process that can keep them off the field and on the bench. Both recreational and professional athletes can strain or sprain key muscles from overuse, even slip a disc.

Before you break out the heating pad and hunker down for a few days of bed rest, it’s important to know what kind of back pain you’re dealing with. Sciatica is pain resulting from the compression of the sciatic nerve, a nerve that runs from your lower back to your feet on both sides. Symptoms often include lower back pain and numbness, radiating pain or severe pain making it difficult to stand up straight or sit down. Such pain often results from direct injury and can be caused by a number of conditions, including a herniated disc.

If you’re a young athlete who has experienced an acute back injury, it’s important to make regular visits to your doctor and to take steps towards proper rehabilitation. These tips will help you keep up with your team while taking the pressure off your back.

Stretch often

It might seem obvious or maybe unnecessary, but stretching before and after exercise is an important habit to keep. It’s recommended that you start off any workout with stretching to warm up, and cool down afterwards with stretches focusing on the muscles you’ve exercised. You might even consider starting your day stretching. There are plenty of low impact stretches designed to relieve sciatic pain.

Alternate weight lifting with low-impact exercise

If you’ve been focusing on gains, don’t ignore your pain. Many weightlifters face sciatica pain resulting from overuse injuries (and occasionally, improper form). Especially if you’re doing the same exercises over and over, you’ll want to mix up your usual workout routine and vary your exercise with equal parts strength training and aerobic exercise. Join a running club, start a Pilates, spinning or step aerobics class, or go solo on a stationary bike or elliptical. Not only will this help you prevent injury, but it’ll help you prevent plateauing in your progress.

Practice yoga to increase overall mobility

There are very few better forms of exercise for increasing your mobility than yoga. Yogic practice for athletes combines strength exercises with flexibility, adding up to a workout that will ease aches and pains while helping you prevent further injury. Yoga will improve your balance and endurance as well, but most importantly, regular yogic practice will help you strengthen your mind-body connection—yoga sharpens your focus and increases bodily awareness, which can help you stay in tune with what exactly your body needs.

Use proper form while lifting

Equally important if you’re looking to go Olympic (or just trying to stay in shape) is proper form. When you’re lifting heavy loads, keep a straight back, and when you perform the lift, lift with your legs. Hold the weight close to your body, and avoid twisting while you lift any heavy object. You’ll want to make sure you’ve nailed your form before you start adding more weight, particularly if you’re coming back to lifting after an injury. Never lift alone, either — go to the gym with a friend and have them spot you when you lift.

Strengthen your core

One thing guaranteed to protect your back? Strengthening your core. You’ll want to be careful how you start adding in core exercise, as some movements will be difficult for a recovering back. Avoid exercises such as toe touches and leg lifts, but consider adding in core strength exercises on an exercise ball, or more back-to-basics exercises such as partial crunches or wall sits. Consult your doctor to plan out the best workouts for you.

Take care and use heat and cold therapy

Some exercises you’ll almost always want to take care performing, such as squats. But with any form of exercise, you might find it helpful to apply heat packs before working out, and cold packs after exercise. Take a warm bath or apply heat to your lower back 15 to 20 minutes before you hit the gym will sooth any stiffness and aid in flexibility before you stretch.

Improve your posture

You’d be surprised how much back pain can be prevented just by changing your posture. Imagine there’s a straight line passing through your body from your feet to the top of your head, and that the top of your head is being pulled towards the ceiling. When you sit, keep your knees and hips level to the floor. Consider buying a small pillow to support your back as you sit, and if you work in an office, take a few minutes every day to get up and walk around, or stretch in your seat.

Cover Image Credit: Vimeo

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Internet outraged at Delhi Aunty for Sl*t Shaming

Public outrage - justified or an overreaction?


When the topic of sexual violence against women arises, women are often held responsible - because of how they dress, or how they behave, or even if they have a voice. A recent incident in Delhi showed that the mindset of people has not changed. In a video posted by Shivani Gupta, a middle-aged woman is seen defending her claim, "Women wearing short dresses deserve to be raped."

This backward mentality surrounding rape and rape culture is horrifying to see. The middle-aged woman first shamed them for wearing short clothes and when she was confronted, she told them "they deserved to get raped." She made things worse when she told other men in the restaurant to rape such women who wear short clothes.

Shivani and her friends later confronted this woman while taking the video. They wanted a public apology for her statement and followed her around. The older woman stood by her statement. Fair enough. They felt threatened by her statements and wanted an apology for her actions. The older lady, however, was brazen about her ideologies and refused to apologize. In fact, she threatened to call the cops for harassment.

The woman who made the regressive statements. Shivani Gupta

While the anger and outrage by the women who uploaded this video are justified, several questions are being raised on whether the older woman was later harassed for her statements. Public shaming is not the way to solve this issue.

"We cannot dismantle a culture of shaming by participating in it." - Rega Jha.

Now, I believe that nobody must engage in victim shaming. Nobody has the right to police the outfit one wishes to wear. It is astonishing to believe that even in the 21st century, people still believe that an outfit determines the morality and character of a person. That older woman was wrong to sl*t-shame the girls for wearing what they want. That being said, even though what that woman did was horrible, public shaming will not work. It will not change the mindset behind these ideologies. What that older woman did was akin to bullying. Publicly shaming her, stalking her facebook account or posting comments or by coercing her, you are also behaving in the same manner of bullying.

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