Mechanical methods hurt the spine – sciatica stretching makes it worse
The stretch sag is shown in Figure A with a female athlete who has a good physique and soft elastic tissues. Still, even for her, such a sag can be harmful. However, if it concerns a person with acute lumbar and sciatic nerve palsy, it can be dangerous – sciatica stretching makes it worse.This position causes the competitor’s body to break down significantly in the lumbar section (Mb axis), called hyperlordosis. The effect on the spinal discs from S-1/L-5 to L3/L4 is shown in Figure B1. Compared to the natural lordosis in the standing position (Figure B2), the spine bends near the rigid wedging of the sacrum between the iliac plates (5). These discs are also damaged by using incorrect movement patterns when bending the body, as well as when lifting. Damage also occurs in gyms, where athletes use the so-called hinge lifting, which slowly but steadily stretches the annulus fibrous from the side of the spinal cord. Such exercises “prepare” the injury that usually occurs when lifting a critical weight or temporarily weakening the muscles. Figures B and C show the most commonly damaged spinal discs in magenta. Figure D shows their actual herniated discs as an MRI image. The stretching sag of a person with a herniated disc may lead to a more significant tear or weakening of the annulus fibrosus.
Then, returning to the normal upright position may cause further adverse effects consisting in increasing the pressure on the damaged disc due to additional stretching or tearing of the annulus fibrosus. Possible adoption of an unfavorable torsion position of the trunk or its uncontrolled bending may even lead to sequestration of the intervertebral disc. Sciatica stretching makes it worse. It usually leads to an increase in pain perception. It can also cause serious nerve damage, which can cause partial paresis of part of the lower limb or the foot itself. Another consequence may be damage to sphincters function.
Almost 14 years ago, I had acute nerve palsy caused by a disc disease that prevented me from walking. I found a YouTube video of “modern” stretching for patients with sciatica. The device looked as impressive as a CT scanner. The method consisted of placing the patient on a special table and securing his legs and torso in a special harness. The patient was stretched according to the parameters indicated on the computer monitor. There were 5-6 people in white coats gathered around him. The film then made me regret that I could not be repaired in an instant by such a modern device. Later, I changed my mind when I learned about disc herniation treatment. During my stay with my brother in New Jersey in 2017, I searched with interest using an Internet search engine about how this therapy method developed. There was almost no trace of the developer of the “modern” stretching method for patients with sciatica. I only found two brief notes that it had been banned a few years earlier. Such stretching methods were used in the Middle Ages. There was no computer connected at the time, but I think the effects in both cases were similar.
Correct Hanging Technique
Figures 5 and 6 show two safe hang—pull-up—techniques. None of them are free hanging. Both consist in tucking the pelvis—raising the pubic bone—by tightening the abdominal muscles (Fc forces) and tightening the gluteal muscles. This technique eliminates the lumbar lordosis and sets the torso in one line with straightened legs (axis Mb – Graphic 5) or the trunk and legs to the knees (axis Mb – Graphic 6). This ensures that the vertebrae and spinal discs are aligned correctly on the 3D axis. Almost all coaches and players know the need to adopt such a position. A hang with such muscle tension can almost certainly not be performed by people with neurological back pain. Even if they could do it, it doesn’t stretch the muscles.
I believe that in the case of spinal hernia, global mechanical stretching of the body should not be allowed, preventing both the patient and the therapist from controlling the range and directions of forces acting on the damaged tissues in and around the spine. Sciatica stretching makes it worse.
However, any manual stretching can be performed by an experienced therapist. It should concern selected myofascial structures in order to remove blockages that cause pain. Unfortunately, there are few therapists with knowledge and experience in performing such procedures. It should be borne in mind that even a successful therapeutic procedure that brings some relief from pain is only an introduction to proper treatment lasting many months.
If the patient himself is not seriously interested in the possibilities of his cure, he does not take comprehensive and consistent care for recovery, he may face a sequence of increasingly stronger pain attacks. Another scenario is persistent pain that gets worse over time and becomes unbearable. In both cases, he will end up with a more or less invasive operation. Unfortunately, in addition to the possibility of moving the pain away in time, it brings greater or lesser mobility restrictions, which will intensify over time.