DEFINITION – What is a Sciatica?

Sciatica (pronounced sigh-at-eh-kah), is a term used to refer to the pain that radiates from the lower lumbar area of the back down through the back of the thigh at the buttocks and into the backs of your legs past the knee. Named for the the sciatic nerve through which the pain travels, sciatica is often called simply, ‘sciatic nerve pain’. The pain itself can present as anything from mild and slightly troublesome burning sensation to severe and hobbling and normally is accompanied by numbness and weakness along the length of just one leg.

Sciatica is the result of the sciatic nerve (the body’s longest nerve) being irritated by any number of things, most commonly a herniated lumbar disc pushing directly into (also known as a pinched nerve). Other causes include irritation from a nearby bone, muscle, tumor, or infection, and depending on the severity of the irritation, pain can flare up quite quickly. However, sciatica normally presents itself as an acute issue, disappearing as quickly as it came, and is seldom a chronic condition causing long-term suffering.


The term ‘Achilles tendon’(or ‘heel’) originates from Homer’s lliad, in which Achilles is the greatest warrior; a hero in greek mythology. According to legend, his mother, the immortal nereid Thetis, dipped baby Achilles by the ankle into the River Styx. Known for its powers of invulnerability, the river clad Achilles in an invisible, impenetrable shield. Unfortunately, the ankle by which he was held was not so cloaked and he was eventually felled from a poison dart. For this reason, we refer to a weak spot as the achilles heel.

In truth, the Achilles tendon is thick and strong, measuring about 6 inches long (15 cm) for the average adult and yet even still, an injury to the achilles tendon can be extremely painful and debilitating. In normal exercise such as walking or swimming, it receives a stress load of as much as 4 times body weight, and when running, that can double. Under such heavy stress, injuries occur more frequently- it’s important that athletes are using proper equipment and techniques.

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