BPS #057 How Should You Sit With Sciatica

Today, we’re going to talk about how you should sit when you have sciatica. This is a very common question and the best answer is really to move about. You shouldn’t sit at all, but sometimes, especially if you’re at work and you have certain things to do, you have to sit. So that’s what we’re going to talk about.

To give you guys a bit of a backstory here, I’m going to tell you the story about Kim. Kim is about 30 years old. She’s female and she has had sciatica for about six months now. It’s located mostly in her left leg, all the way down to her foot, and she has a tingling sensation and some kind of weakness.

She had an MRI for this and it showed she had a slipped disc at L5-S1, a very, very common level to have a slipped disc. So she has this and the pain is just horrible you know, especially when she’s sitting. It’s just irritating her very, very much.

Internally, Kim was struggling right now because she’s just had a big promotion at work. She’s actually like the lead air traffic controller at an airport, and what she does essentially, is she’s controlling all the planes and giving them directions and orders how they should land at the airport, okay?

So this kind of work is very, very — it’s a big responsibility to have you know. You have thousands of peoples’ lives in her hand every day, you know. She has to be very, very like on, constantly, okay?

There were some other issues at work as well, because she wasn’t allowed to take any medication whatsoever, because that would affect her mind, right, and she couldn’t stand up because this was like a big switchboard, and she had to sit down for the majority of her working shift, right?

It’s a big, big problem. So externally, she was also like doing some stupid stuff you know. She was stretching her piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle is the buttocks, basically. You have a muscle down there, and sometimes it can feel quite nice when you do the stretch there. It gives you a temporary pain relief when you’re stretching, but it’s not a long-term solution.

She was also doing something really stupid. She was cracking her own back. She was on her side and she was just twisting and turning, you know, and that wasn’t good at all. That actually irritated her, but a friend of her told her to do that, and she’s been doing that for quite a bit.

She’s kind of a tough woman. Also Kim is like kind of hardcore. So she was into CrossFit, you know, and she was doing the CrossFit routine three times a week and she did this like she did the squats, she did the deadlift, and quite a lot of heavy weights, you know, hardcore stuff. That was also irritating her back quite a bit, but she just kept on doing it because she was thinking you know, I need to exercise in order for me to become better and stronger.

She hit this big wall now you know, because she’s at work. She has all this responsibility, but she started to see or notice that her pain and the lack of sleep, her crankiness, her irritation on everything was affecting her job, you know, and she understood that she couldn’t put that amount of people at risk just because she had this pain you know.

So she actually reduced her workload to 50% and that helped her quite a bit you know, because she had an opportunity to just lie down more at home and relax more, but she really didn’t want to lose her job, okay?

They told her at work, if you can’t come back in like two- or three-months’ time at a hundred percent, we need to put someone else in there to fill the spot you know, and she was really, really annoyed and irritated around this.

So when she came to me to my office, she just had one question you know. “Robin, how can I sit with my sciatica at work, because I need to sit? I know I need to move around, walk around, and do all this core exercise and do the other stuff, but I need to sit down, okay?”

So that was the question she had. So first off, I told Kim, you know when you sit with sciatica you shouldn’t cross your legs. It’s very, very important. Number two, Kim, when you’re sitting with sciatica, you need to have your feet flat on the floor, okay? Also a very good tip.

Also when you’re sitting, you need to have your hips and your knees in about 45 angle degree at all the times, or most of the time, and also try to get, if you have a chair, an office chair, you should have the office chair and that should have wheels on it so you’re moving around in it and you’re moving your body in like one unit, okay, with the wheels. You’re not twisting or turning your back too much, okay?

So that were a few tips that she was using, and that actually helped her quite a bit. So right now, she’s at work and she’s working six hours in front of sitting down, and she has two hours where she can do some of the work at a standing desk and additionally to that, she’s walking every day and she’s using these cold showers as well and she’s doing some stretching for the piriformis muscle, but she’s not hitting the gym. She’s not doing any CrossFit whatsoever, guys, and she’s just calming down a bit.

So that’s what you should think about guys. If you need to sit down when you have sciatica, it is possible, but you need to think about the things I just mentioned, okay?

Today guys, I’m going to go out. I’m going to go to the beach actually, you know. It’s a sunny day and I’m going to enjoy it with my family. So take care. I love you and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.