Q&A with Roger Teeter: Sciatica
In this ongoing series with Teeter Hang Ups founder, Roger Teeter, we ask him questions about his own use of inversion as well as his opinions on why inverting with a Teeter is helpful.
This week: How can a person decrease their sciatica symptoms by inverting with a Teeter?
“Sciatica is caused when one or more of three nerves that exit the spine and go down each leg is pinched. By their thickness, discs control the opening on each side of the disc where nerves come out from the spinal cord. A degenerate disc, as it is often called, is a disc that is thinner than it should be, which in the case of sciatica, reduces the nerve opening to the point that the nerve is pinched.
The pain from that pinched nerve can often be felt all the way down the leg and is very debilitating. Inversion is at its best in this situation. While inverted, your own body weight pulls traction, increasing the intervertebral separation and taking pressure off the nerve, often giving immediate relief.
In a small percentage of cases, the DEX or DEX II can be more effective than an inversion table. The reason for this is when you are inverted in the seated position, the psoas muscle is relaxed and the lumbar curved flattened – making the discs less pie-shaped and therefore changing the loads to give relief in a slightly different way.
One clue as to the possibility that inversion in the seated position might be better for you is if your discomfort is less noticeable when seated than standing. The only way to be sure is to try both the inversion table and the DEX. If a DEX is not available, I encourage you to still try the inversion table, as 85% of the time the table works best.
One final point: be sure to come up slowly if you have an inflamed joint, taking a full minute stop at the horizontal position before gradually lowering your weight back onto your feet. This is essential if the problem is a bulged or ruptured disc, but is good policy for a pinched nerve as well. The reason is that when inverted, all discs will imbibe moisture and you need the pause to allow the excess fluid to come out of the inflamed disc before putting weight on it again. Failure to do that could result in a sharp pain as the hydraulic pressure inside the disc hits inflamed nerves. Allowing excess fluid to come out before putting weight back on the joint will avoid this problem.”