Sciatica was an overwhelming feature of 2023. For many months I was struggling to get about due to severe numbness down both legs - from buttocks to the soles of my feet. It wasn’t particularly painful but significant discomfort meant walking was severly impaired, sometimes managing only a few hundred steps before I had to stop, sit and stretch. I was contemplating whether I needed to get a disabled badge for the car so that I could get about.

It was fortunate that the problem was almost entirely triggered by walking so I was able to train around it, so long as that training didn’t involve taking too many steps!

Training Focus


I’d signed up for the Thames Half Marathon river swim at the end of last year and I trained pretty diligently for the the first half of the year. By the middle of the year I nearly abandoned my place due to the disabling sciatica, but in the end I swam with my walking stick packed in a tow float, just in case I had to abandon the swim and walk back along the river bank. It turned out to be a lovely event and my back caused me no particular problems.

Assorted Mace

For a brief moment I thought I might be back the following year to complete the full marathon distance but that was just a post event buzz that rapidly wore off.

Rope Flow and Tim’s Gym

Rope flow has been a constant feature since I discovered it last year. Even though the sciatica has surfaced strongly this year, I think the rope flow is going to help me escape it eventually. Mostly because it encourages / requires, both sides of your body to be utilised and slowly I’m noticing my kinked spine is straightening up. Or at least I have the awareness that it is kinked and can take action to straighten it.

I’ve been a member of the online group, Tim’s Gym for most of this year. It’s a great community, particularly for those that like to experiment with more fringe techniques. I was introduced to Tim through his Way of the Rope rope flow course and later discovered we were interested in many similar avenues of training. He has tried even more modalities than me and his platform contains mini courses in all the areas that have particularly resonated with him. It’s a fantastic value resource with regular updates, including the inclusion of some of Tim’s older standalone courses. I particularly like the opportunity to chat with like minded fitness explorers - the sort of people who wear barefoot shoes, swing rope and enjoy learning about novel ideas such as those wrapped up in Weck Method or indeed anything relating to biomechanics.

Strength with Leo

In May, I started training weekly with @LatsLikeLeo, who I met years ago at CrossFit. She was hands down the best trainer in the gym and I feel very lucky to get 1 on 1 time with her. Because of the sciatica, many of our sessions in the early days, started with me reeling off a list of movements that I couldn’t do that day. Fortunately Leo has the experience and patience to improvise and seemingly magic a new training plan despite all the last minute restrictions.

Positive Ending

Despite suffering quite considerable movement impairment throughout this year, I managed to maintain a high level of hope about my potential to regain mobility. Training with Leo enforced a level of consistency that I have always struggled with and this has been key in helping me keep the faith. We only train together once a week but if you give it long enough, consistency makes an impact.

I’ve been able to sprinkle in extra sessions as and when I felt able and by the later stages of the year I’ve been feeling noticeably more confident in my ability to move my body with weight (and without) and getting in 2-3 strength sessions a week.

Starting 2024 I feel like I have my strength and fitness mojo back and my Instagram account has woken up again as I feel excited to share my exploits. I suspect a few more fitness experiments may spring to life this coming year, I no longer feel broken but entirely invigorated to uncover the warrior within.