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Posted at: May 12, 2018, 12:34 AM; last updated: May 12, 2018, 12:34 AM (IST)

Hold back the heavy weights

Dr Sudeep Jain

In the recently held Commonwealth Games some of our weightlifters were unable to win bigger or better medals as sciatic pain hampered their performance. The pain of sciatica is really unbearable, and the risk increases for those who lift heavy weights. 

Nowadays, many youngsters in their pursuit to have well-sculpted bodies like Hollywood or Bollywood stars are they spending  long hours in the gym, lifting heavy weights and trying to achieve bodies like their favourite stars. However, many times this heavy lifting of weights, if done in incorrect manner, can lead to their developing sciatic pain.

What is sciatic pain?

Sciatica is a symptom of leg pain which is accompanied by tingling, numbness, or weakness. It starts in the lower back and moves through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg. Sciatic pain is unbearable. The victim has to face many other problems along with the pain. The symptoms of sciatica are of different types. It is the result of a loss or injury to the sciatic nerve, so other symptoms of nerve damage are also usually accompanied by pain.

Why lifting heavy weights can cause it 

The sciatic nerve begins in the lower part and runs through the lower limb. It is the longest and widest single nerve in the human body, which is why it is more likely to get harmed. The problem of sciatica quite common among weightlifters because when they lift heavy weight; the sciatic nerves become highly stressed due to which the chances of injury increase. Sciatic pain may also be caused due to severe injury or degenerative disc disorder.

Preventive measures

When young people do heavy weightlifting in the gym, especially without any expert guidance they are more likely to have this problem. Hence, they should completely follow the advice of a physical trainer or a coach before weightlifting. They should do proper warm-up before lifting weights. They should also be careful of having right amount of fluid in the body. Besides, they should wear a proper well-fitted belt around their waist as it helps in protecting from an injury. Most important is that one should lift weights according to one’s body capacity.

Treatment

Physical exercises offer the best possible treatment for sciatica pain. Exercises where one has to stretch one’s body forward are more beneficial. Other treatment options include application of hot and cold water packs. These are very effective in providing immediate relief from sciatic pain. Having proper rest, medicines and sometimes even prescribed injections by an orthopaedics can help in getting relief from the pain. 

Nine out of 10 people get relief from sciatica pain with help of these measures. However, those who do not get any relief from these measures, surgery maybe the best option. They need to consult an orthopaedic surgeon who can guide them what is the best option for them.

— The writer is spine surgeon and director, Spine Solutions India, New Delhi

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