Best Sitting Position for Sciatica

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Best Sitting Position for Sciatica

Did you know that there is the best sitting position for sciatica? If you are one of the many people who suffer from this painful condition, it is important to find a sitting position that will help relieve your symptoms. In this post, we will discuss the best sitting position for sciatica and provide tips on how to achieve it. Keep reading to learn more!

sciatic nerve diagram

As a general rule, in order to prevent sciatica, you should sit with both feet flat on the ground, hips at 8-10 degrees higher than knees, and lean back in an upright position. In this way, you can relieve pressure from your gluts, spine, and sciatic nerve.

Keep reading to learn how to ease sciatica while sitting, through my 30 years of advising, treating patients, exploring, designing simple solutions (even a successful Kickstarter campaign!), and I even published a book on this topic.

How to Sit With Sciatica

As a general rule, the best way to sit if you are suffering from sciatica is to get your seat height as high as possible with both feet flat on the floor, use a lumbar cushion, and have your forward seat tilt at an 8 to 10-degree angle.

Best Tip for Leg Pain Relief After Prolonged Sitting?

I recommend that you use an orthopaedic seat wedge for immediate sciatica pain relief while sitting. It’s simple, quick and effective!

As we all know poor postures can lead to leg pain from our chairs so I advise my patients about this solution: sit up straight by moving their spine into a more optimal position with the help of a personally designed orthopedic cushion. 

seat cushion piriformis

The orthopedic seat wedge will be your best friend when you want to sit comfortably. The extra surface area and higher angle of the hip joint allow for more comfort as well as better posture!

Orthopedic Wedge Cushions are a great way to keep you seated upright and comfortable. The forward tilt works with your natural curves of the lower spine, so it’s easy for weight distribution while sitting in this position!

7 Tips for Relieving Sciatica Pain While Sitting:

  • It is important to get up and move about every twenty minutes or so. This will help alleviate the pain that results from sitting too long!
  • Lumbar supports are extremely helpful for reducing sciatica pain and, in a pinch, you can use a rolled-up towel as support.
  • Keep your feet flat on the ground and elevate your seat to the highest level possible. Consider using a footrest if necessary.
  • My most frequently mentioned tip is to keep your hips above your knees. By doing so, they are naturally tilted forward, and your pelvic and spinal muscles are relaxed.
  • Increasing your chair’s width is another tip I get great feedback on. Good ergonomic chairs have adjustable seat depths. You should make sure that your knees do not touch the edge of your seat any closer than two fingers depth.
  • Stretching your leg muscles while sitting is another way of relieving sciatica pain. Even when you are sitting, move your legs. Extend and contract them. Schedule regular stretching breaks.
  • Under your desk, you need to have enough legroom. Store your files, cords, printers, and other items elsewhere, and remove any clutter from under the desk.

Here is a video I made on how to prevent sciatica while sitting:

Is It Better to Sit or Lie Down With Sciatica?

As a general rule, bed rest can make sciatica worse, so once you are able to rise and move, it’s important for your health and safety. A long period of time spent sitting on hard surfaces or driving without breaks will put more pressure on those discs, causing more discomfort!

It is important to remember that nobody can say for sure whether sitting is better as each sciatica sufferer is different, so you must find out what works for you.  

Typically, it is usually a combination of sitting and standing that helps to alleviate sciatica pains. It is often recommended to switch between the two positions as often as required but beware of sitting in a low position as standing from a low seated position can cause additional pain.

If you’re experiencing chronic sciatica pain, it’s important for your body to be in a perfect position. In general terms, this means avoiding sitting or sleeping incorrectly which can lead to not only discomfort but also permanent damage over time!  The positions that trigger sciatic pain are usually sitting or sleeping without support.  For example, we experience far greater discomfort when we sleep on a soft mattress or sit in a soft chair. 

Does Sitting Make Sciatica Worse?

sitting makes sciatica worse

Generally speaking, sitting typically makes sciatica pain worse.  In contrast, if you choose the right seat to accompany your sitting, you can drastically reduce your sciatica pain. To avoid the effects of prolonged periods of sitting or standing, I always recommend that you alternate between sitting and standing frequently.

It is also best to keep your legs moving when sitting or standing for extended periods to keep your muscles warm and improve circulation.

Is It Better to Walk or Sit With Sciatica?

man walking with sciatica

Each sciatica patient is different, so no one can say whether or not sitting is better. So during your treatment process, you have to figure out what works best for you. It is usually a combination of sitting and standing that alleviates sciatica pains. Many chiropractors advise switching between the two positions as often as needed, but be careful sitting in a low position as standing from a low seated position can be painful.

How to Stop Sciatica Pain When Sitting

Sciatica pain when sitting can be unbearable. If you are suffering from this condition, you should consider the following suggestions for your sitting environment:

Sciatica Exercises

Here is a video I made with some great exercises for sciatica.

Finding the Right Chair for Sciatica

Investing in an ergonomic office chair with the following minimum requirements may help prevent the pain associated with sciatica:

  1. Seat height adjustment. If your chair can’t go low enough or high enough, you can fix this by replacing the gas shock to be right for you.
  2. Capability for a forward tilt. Again, if your chair doesn’t have this function, you can quickly get a seat wedge. Just make sure you put a thicker wedge on the back of the seat and keep your hips above your knees.
  3. You want your seat to be able to support your body. The general rule here is that the more surface area you sit on, the fewer pressure points. The distance from the edge of your seat to your knees should be at least two to three fingers.
  4. Keep moving! Standing up and sitting at least every fifteen or twenty minutes again keeps complacent patterns at bay.

Getting the Right Mattress for Sciatica

If you’ve ever found yourself waking up from pain in your lower back and hips, then it’s possible that sciatica is causing the problem. This condition can make sleeping difficult because of radiating sensations down one side or both legs which makes getting any rest very challenging at times; however, having an appropriate orthopedic mattress to cushion sore spots will take pressure off this area allowing for relief while also giving muscles some time needed relaxation!

thespinery.com mattress

As a general rule, the best mattress for sciatica promotes spinal alignment, has pressure relief, and durability to support, conform to your body, cradling pressure points while supporting your spine.  Look for a mattress that has been designed by a medical expert or chiropractor.

What Should You Not Do With Sciatica?

Sciatica is a common condition that can cause pain in the lower back and legs. While there are many things you can do to help relieve the pain, there are also some things you should avoid doing.

Here are five things you should not do if you have sciatica:

  • Don’t sit for long periods of time. If you have sciatica, sitting for long periods of time can make your pain worse. Instead, try to take breaks often and move around as much as possible.
  • Don’t stand for long periods of time. Just like sitting, standing for too long can also aggravate your sciatica pain. If you have to stand for long periods of time, make sure to take breaks often and move around as much as possible.
  • Don’t lift heavy objects. Lifting heavy objects can put unnecessary strain on your back and legs, making your sciatica pain worse. If you need to lift something heavy, ask someone else for help.
  • Don’t twist or bend your body awkwardly. Twisting or bending your body awkwardly can also aggravate your sciatica pain. Be careful when you’re moving around and avoid any sudden or jerky movements.
  • Don’t stay in bed all day. While it’s important to rest when you have sciatica, staying in bed all day can actually make your pain worse!

How Can I Walk With Severe Sciatica?

piriformis pain

If you suffer from severe sciatica, walking can be difficult and even painful. However, there are a few ways that you can make walking with sciatica a little easier on yourself. First of all, it is important to take things slowly at first. Walking too quickly or too far can aggravate your symptoms and make the pain worse. Start by walking just a few minutes each day, and gradually increase the time as you are able.

Another important tip is to make sure that you are walking with good posture. This means keeping your head up, shoulders back, and abdominals pulled in. It may also help to wear supportive shoes with good arch support. Finally, be sure to stretch before and after walking, as this can help to prevent pain and further injury. If you find that the pain is too severe or that walking is not helping, be sure to talk to your doctor for other treatment options.

What Triggers Sciatica?

There is not one specific event or activity that causes sciatica. Rather, it is the result of an underlying condition that puts pressure on or irritates the sciatic nerve. Some common causes include:

-Herniated disc: A herniated disc occurs when the inner, jelly-like portion of the disc leaks out through a tear in the outer layer. This can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause pain.

woman with low back pain

-Degenerative disc disease: This is a condition that results in the deterioration of the discs that cushion the vertebrae. As the discs wear down, they may become less able to protect the nerves, which can lead to pain.

-Spinal stenosis: This is a narrowing of the spinal canal, which can put pressure on the nerves and cause pain.

-Piriformis syndrome: This is a condition in which the piriformis muscle, which is located near the sciatic nerve, becomes tight or spasms. This can irritate the sciatic nerve and cause pain.

There are many other potential causes of sciatica, so it is important to see a doctor if you are experiencing pain.

How Do You Calm a Sciatic Nerve?

woman jogging low back pain

There are a number of ways to calm a sciatic nerve. Some simple methods include rest, ice, and heat. More complex methods may involve physical therapy or massage. In severe cases, medication or surgery may be necessary. However, most cases of sciatica can be resolved with nonsurgical treatments.

My most successful treatments to calm sciatica are:

  • non-surgical spinal decompression
  • Class IV laser therapy
  • Shockwave therapy
  • Spinal Adjustments (chiropractic or osteopathic)

How To Sit on Couch With Sciatica

With sciatica, there is no honest good advice about how to sit on a couch. The best option would be to avoid it altogether! However, if you sit on your couch, remember to think of the sofa as like alcohol, and you should only use it only in moderation.

How to Get Your Sciatic Nerve To Stop Hurting

Below are some quick things you can do right now to help relieve sciatica:

  1. The alternating application of heat and ice to the sciatic nerve can provide immediate relief. While heat may help reduce pain while relieving inflammation, ice may reduce swelling. Heat and ice create a physiological pump to reduce inflammation. Heat and ice may also help ease painful muscle spasms that accompany sciatica.
  2. A powerful natural anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin or turmeric creates an improved immune system and overall health.
  3. A chiropractor can help you when you have a mechanical problem that may be causing your sciatica. One of my favourite treatments is non-surgical spinal decompression.
  4. With a deep tissue massage, the spine’s range of motion will be restored, improving its flexibility. Message can also help release knots, trigger points, and tension in the muscles.

Sleeping With Sciatica

Best Lumbar Support for Sciatica

As a general rule, the best lumbar support cushion for an office chair would have to be natural latex foam that conforms to your body and provides the support you need while still allowing you to change your posture as needed. 

Your chair’s lumbar support will assist you in maintaining proper posture and relieve pressure on your sciatic nerve. Since sciatica arises from the lumbar region, which is often tight or weakened, lumbar support can alleviate your sciatica symptoms. 

Even though there are several lumbar support products marketed specifically for chair use, a towel rolled up behind your lower back may work just as well. It’s never too late to get lumbar support; whether you choose a special lumbar pillow or a roll-up towel, either is both convenient and helpful. They’re easy to carry, light enough to transport to and from work, and easy to position on any chair.

Are Reclining Chairs Good for Sciatica?

As a general rule, sciatica sufferers tend to find that reclining chairs may relieve pain by taking pressure off their lower backs, but the effectiveness of these chairs has been mixed.  However, it is important to find a reclining chair that offers the right level of support. 

reclining chair

People with sciatica should avoid chairs that are too soft, as they may not provide enough support for the lower back. In addition, it is important to find a chair with good lumbar support. This can help to keep the spine in alignment, which can reduce pain. Finally, people with sciatica may also want to consider using a pillow or other support when sitting in a reclining chair. This can help to maintain the natural curve of the spine and prevent further aggravation of the condition.

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a reclining chair for sciatica. First, it is important to find a chair that offers the right level of support. People with sciatica should avoid chairs that are too soft, as they may not provide enough support for the lower back. In addition, it is important to find a chair with good lumbar support. This can help to keep the spine in alignment, which can reduce pain. Finally, people with sciatica may also want to consider using a pillow or other support when sitting in a reclining chair. This can help to maintain the natural curve of the spine and prevent further aggravation of the problem. 

Does Sitting Cross-Legged Help Sciatica?

As a general rule, it is not a good idea to cross your legs if suffering from sciatica. Many people believe that sitting with your legs crossed can help but there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, some people swear by it.

crossing legs on chair girl

In addition, sitting cross-legged is a good way to improve your posture and alignment, which can help to prevent sciatica in the first place. If you do decide to try sitting cross-legged, be sure to do so with good posture. Otherwise, you may end up exacerbating the pain.

Best Seated Exercise for Sciatica

For those who suffer from sciatica, exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do. However, incorporating some simple seated exercises into your daily routine can help to alleviate pain and improve mobility. 

One of the best exercises for sciatica is the pelvic tilt. To perform this exercise, sit up tall in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Slowly tilt your pelvis backwards, then forward, arching your back as you move. You should feel a stretch in your lower back and buttocks. Hold each position for five seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat the exercise 10 times. 

Another helpful exercise is the leg lift. Again, start by sitting up tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift one leg straight out in front of you, keeping your knee bent. Hold the position for five seconds before lowering your leg back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise 10 times, then switch legs and repeat with the other leg. If you find these exercises too difficult to do from a seated position, you can also try them lying down on your back with your legs bent. Just be sure to keep your back flat on the ground and your knees pointing straight up toward the ceiling. 

As always, consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Sciatica can be a debilitating condition, but incorporating these exercises into your daily routine can help to ease pain and improve mobility. Give them a try today!

Does Low Heat Help Sciatica?

Many people suffer from sciatica, which is a debilitating condition that can cause severe pain in the lower back and legs. While there is no cure for sciatica, there are treatments that can help to relieve the symptoms. 

One popular method of treatment is to use low-level heat therapy. This involves applying heat to the affected area for a period of time, typically 15-20 minutes. The heat helps to relax the muscles and reduce inflammation, which can lead to pain relief. As a general rule, low-level heat therapy can help to improve circulation and promote healing. While there is no guarantee that low-level heat therapy will work for everyone, it is generally considered to be safe and effective, and it may be worth trying if you are suffering from sciatica.

Does Chiropractic Help Sciatica?

If you suffer from sciatica, you’re not alone. This painful condition affects millions of people each year, causing shooting pain, numbness, and weakness in the lower back, hips, and legs. 

chiropractors recommend natural latex pillows

As a general rule, chiropractic care is a common treatment for sciatica, and research shows that it can be effective in reducing pain and improving function. Chiropractors often use spinal manipulation to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. They may also recommend exercises and other lifestyle changes to help ease sciatica symptoms.

If you’re considering chiropractic care for sciatica, be sure to consult with a qualified practitioner to get the most benefit and avoid any potential risk.

Final thoughts…

This advice that I gave to you today is based on experience, as I’ve worked with so many people, all of whom spend a lot of time sitting to avoid low back pain issues caused by sitting. If you implement these easy changes to your sitting environment, you’ll enjoy long-term benefits

Several other factors may also play a part in sciatica problems. It is a good idea to get a proper diagnosis and imaging (like an MRI). One of the primary reasons for this is that we tend to fit into our chairs rather than making them provide us while working at a desk. All of these factors can endanger your physical health. They include leaning forward, reaching for the mouse or keyboard, crossing your legs, the incorrect seat pan, sitting on a stiff seat that is too low, and not having forward tilt control. 

Therefore, it is vital to find the best seat for you. What you should remember is that unconscious and complacent movements will end up making you break down. If you stay active and conscious throughout your day, your low back pain may disappear. 

Sources:

  1. Roffey, D.M., Wai, E.K., Bishop, P., Kwon, B.K. and Dagenais, S., 2010. Causal assessment of occupational sitting and low back pain: results of a systematic review. The Spine Journal, 10(3), pp.252-261.
  2. Hartvigsen, Jan, Charlotte Leboeuf-Yde, Svend Lings, and Elisabeth H. Corder. “Is sitting-while-at-work associated with low back pain? A systematic, critical literature review.” Scandinavian journal of public health 28, no. 3 (2000): 230-239.
  3. Williams, M.M., Hawley, J.A., McKENZIE, R.A. and van WIJMEN, P.M., 1991. A comparison of the effects of two sitting postures on back and referred pain. Spine, 16(10), pp.1185-1191.
  4. Gupta, N., Christiansen, C.S., Hallman, D.M., Korshøj, M., Carneiro, I.G. and Holtermann, A., 2015. Is objectively measured sitting time associated with low back pain? A cross-sectional investigation in the NOMAD study. PloS one, 10(3), p.e0121159.
  5. Heliövaara, M.A.R.K.K.U., Mäkelä, M.A.T.T.I., Knekt, P.A.U.L., Impivaara, O.L.L.I. and Aromaa, A.P.R.O., 1991. Determinants of sciatica and low-back pain. Spine, 16(6), pp.608-614
  6. Wheeler, A.H., 1995. Diagnosis and management of low back pain and sciatica. American family physician, 52(5), pp.1333-41
  7. Bernstein, I.A., Malik, Q., Carville, S. and Ward, S., 2017. Low back pain and sciatica: summary of NICE guidance. Bmj, 356.
  8. Clarke, J.A., van Tulder, M.W., Blomberg, S.E., de Vet, H.C., van der Heijden, G.J., Brønfort, G. and Bouter, L.M., 2007. Traction for low‐back pain with or without sciatica. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2)
  9. Kuslich, S.D., Ulstrom, C.L. and Michael, C.J., 1991. The tissue origin of low back pain and sciatica: a report of pain response to tissue stimulation during operations on the lumbar spine using local anesthesia. The Orthopedic clinics of North America, 22(2), pp.181-187
  10. Dahm, K.T., Brurberg, K.G., Jamtvedt, G. and Hagen, K.B., 2010. Advice to rest in bed versus advice to stay active for acute low‐back pain and sciatica. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (6).
  11. Tubach, F., Beauté, J. and Leclerc, A., 2004. Natural history and prognostic indicators of sciatica. Journal of clinical epidemiology, 57(2), pp.174-179
  12. Hagen, K.B., Jamtvedt, G., Hilde, G. and Winnem, M.F., 2005. The updated cochrane review of bed rest for low back pain and sciatica. Spine, 30(5), pp.542-546.
  13. Grøvle, L., Haugen, A.J., Keller, A., Natvig, B., Brox, J.I. and Grotle, M., 2010. The bothersomeness of sciatica: patients’ self-report of paresthesia, weakness and leg pain. European Spine Journal, 19(2), pp.263-269.
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Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Founder

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

 

Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

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