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Wellness Camp

One of the worst things about this piriformis muscle drama is that it turns sleeping into a painful activity (by now, the bulk of things points to piriformis syndrome as the major cause of my woes). Things feel best when I spend some time doing windshield wipers and pigeon pose, which tells me I should continue this combination of stretching and strengthening of the surrounding gluteal muscles.

One of the other things I have come to realize is that THIS is an explanation for what I've been meaning, for years, when I say, "I itch on the inside." The piriformis aggravates the sciatic nerve, twanging on it, and that twanging radiates down the back of the leg, causing muscle spasms primarily in the hamstring and calf. The net effect is that, if I sit for too long in an incorrect position, I develop Crazy Legs, where I feel like I MUST get up and move around, immediately! And it's also why I have a hard time sitting for extended periods, and wind up sitting in all kinds of bizarre postures instead of sitting "normally" in chairs.

I'm still going to listen to my wise physical-therapist mother and go to see a specialist. I have this feeling that my mom is really curious about my lower back bone structure, and heck, I'm intrigued, too. So, we shall see. The physical therapist who helped me with shoulder problems never did give me details on the diagnostics he measured, but then again he seemed to be keeping quite busy.

This morning, I am fantasizing about alternative careers. It starts with thinking that if I ever teach musculoskeletal anatomy again, I am definitely going to introduce the piriformis by saying, "The piriformis is the literal pain-in-the-butt muscle." Then I got back to thinking about how one of the things I might do if academia doesn't work out is go back to school and study physical therapy. That would align well with my interests in sports and fitness. But then, I'm more interested in the notion of preventative medicine rather than recuperation. So, what are good ways to make that happen? I could see good reason to develop some sort of adult "Wellness camp" activities that could appeal to businesses looking to help their employees be healthy, and that also offer a chance for people to go on a retreat and focus on mind/body/spirit (from a nonreligious standpoint). I would want to do all of this from the standpoint of giving more people tools they can put into practice in everyday life to build or maintain fitness and prevent injuries. This is clearly not rocket science, and yet I can't say I've found the perfect resources for myself yet, so I suspect there's room for improvement.


( 6 remarks — Remark )
Jun. 20th, 2015 04:29 pm (UTC)
This sounds a lot like restorative exercise and the work that Katy Bowman (among others) do, which is focused on teaching people how to integrate movement into all they do, rather than confining all their movement to a once-daily exercise session.

I think you'd be great at it, and I love the idea of you working on true wellness programs or camps that would let people learn a library of movement tools that they could apply to all aspects of their everyday physical life.

I've dreamed for years of opening an retreat center, no reason why we couldn't go in on it together. :)
Jun. 21st, 2015 04:36 am (UTC)
It's a fairly appealing alternative career, eh? :-)

The restorative exercise + teaching people how to integrate movement sounds great!
Jun. 20th, 2015 11:24 pm (UTC)
I experience a lot of this pain and itch/restless legs.
This is why I have such a ritual about bedtime. I take a super hot bath to relax everything, sometimes when the pain is really bad, I sleep with pillows to kind of elevate certain things so the pressure lessens. (most of my ish is related to hypermobility and having to keep everything in order so it doesn't slip out and get wonky.)
Jun. 21st, 2015 04:40 am (UTC)
The hypermobility has carried over from the ballet days? If so, man, that sucks. One of the things my mom has been having me do is work on specific yoga poses to re-teach muscles what they should consider proper alignment. I have generally low muscle tone, which I think gets me into the same sort of trouble with hypermobility. In the present case, it sounds like the piriformis will start to try and do some of the work that the gluteal muscles are supposed to be doing, but then it gets fatigued and starts to freak out. So the situation seems to call for a combination of stretching/icing/relaxing the piriformis, and activating the gluteal muscles (with those windshield wiper exercises) so the damn things will wake up and do their job.

The amazing part in most of this is that the results are near-instantaneous. If I get up and do some stretches and windshield wipers, I can walk. If I don't, I suffer. It hasn't been perfect in terms of comfortable sleep, but I'm optimistic that things are heading in the right direction. A physical therapist is still likely to have a few additional tricks up his or her sleeve, though - at least, that's what I found to be the case when trying to figure out wonky shoulder issues ~6 years ago.
Jun. 20th, 2015 11:49 pm (UTC)
Whoah. I had never even considered the piriformis/sciatica connection. That's huge. I'm going to be doing a bunch of looking into this. Thank you.
Jun. 21st, 2015 04:43 am (UTC)
I wound up looking up "piriformis" on Wikipedia, which declared that ~17% of the population has this thing where the sciatic nerve runs through the muscle. So it's weird, but fairly common. I never would have known/guessed, except for the powers of Physical Therapist Mom. I really don't know how people who don't have Physical Therapist Mom can even survive everyday life.

I hope this helps you, too! Share what you learn!
( 6 remarks — Remark )

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