Sciatica Story with Harris Ashraff
Lifting with sciatica, hypervigilance, recovery, Barbell Medicine and much more
Thanks for reading the 38th edition of my newsletter. This newsletter tracks my research as I write a book about lumbar radicular pain!
This edition, it’s my pleasure to bring you my conversation with Ash, a project manager from Chennai, India, who has a long history of back pain and sciatica but has nevertheless pursued his powerlifting goals and, to a great extent, recovered from pain.
Ash is deeply insightful about his journey and about his pain. During our conversation, he told me not only about how he approaches training with pain, both practically and psychologically, but also how he has found that things like sleep, stress, work and friendship all have a bearing on how his back pain and sciatica feel.
One thing that struck me during our conversation was how much work Ash has put in to teaching himself about pain and exercise. He showed me piles of notebooks and, on his laptop, reams of pdfs. He’s a skilled and tenacious autodidact. This is greatly to his credit, but it did also serve as a reminder to me of how hard it is for all of us - laypeople and clinicians - to get our heads round this pain thing.
I think this episode will be useful for clinicians who want a reminder of the power of education and of the right approach to training. I also think that, like my conversations with triathlete Kate Charlton (here and here), this episode will be useful for athletes with sciatica who want to get back to training.
Finally, here are some links to the resources Ash mentions during our conversation (asterisk = particularly strong endorsement from Ash):
The Gift of Injury book by McGill and Carroll
*Explain Pain book
*Recovery Strategies by Greg Lehman
Muscle Strength Pyramid approach
Stronger by Science website
Strength System, biopsychosocially enlightened gym in Chennai
Back Pain talk by Mark Rippetoe
*Aches and Pains article by Austin Baraki