Ways to Avoid Sciatica

a woman holding her hands with thumbs up on her lower back

Sciatic pain is one of the most common ailments we treat here at Back & Body Medical.  But the thing is, it’s avoidable.  You can befriend your sciatic nerve (which is the largest nerve in the body, extending from the buttocks down the back of the legs, to the ankles).  You can treat it with respect and intentional care to avoid irritating it.  Kind of like your boss, you spouse, or your barista.

Posture counts.

I talk about posture a lot here because it’s so important.  Posture which nurtures (as opposed to tortures) your body is a simple discipline and one of the best ways to avoid sciatica.  Posture isn’t just for standing.  It’s for sitting, too.  A lot of sciatica cases stem from sitting for too long, in the wrong position.  Slouching and crossed legs are two major culprits.

Here are some things to remember when sitting (especially at work).

  • Get up and move around. If you sit for long periods, it’s tempting to get so embroiled in what you’re doing that you forget to get up and move.  Make a point of getting up and stretching and moving around every 30 minutes.  Even if you’re stuck in a meeting, you can get up to go to the washroom, or pour yourself another glass of water, or cup of coffee.  No excuses.  It’s important.
  • Make sure you’re not perched on the edge of your chair. Your rear end should be positioned at the back of the chair.  With core muscles held in (supporting your lower back), your shoulders should be down and back.  Your head should not be straining forward.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor. Don’t cross your legs or ankles.  That’s just asking for circulatory trouble on top of sciatica!
  • When you’re ready to stand up, don’t bend from the waist. Push yourself to the edge of your chair and stand by straightening your legs.

These are some simple hacks to improve your sitting hygiene.  Sure, it sounds like a lot, but if you intentionally practice these habits, every day, you’ll soon find they come naturally to you.  Isn’t it worth it to avoid sciatica?

Lifting properly.

Whether at work or at home, lifting properly (especially if the item is heavy) is one of the most effective ways to avoid sciatica.

  • Everyone should know this, but I’m going to say it again. Lift with your legs, not your back.  Straighten up by engaging the quadriceps and holding your abdominal muscles tight.
  • Stand with your feet firmly planted and wide apart, prior to attempting a lift.
  • Don’t twist. Use your feet to turn with the object you’ve lifted.  Twisting your back with a heavy weight in your hands will not end well.
  • When lifting, ensure that the lift doesn’t bring the object above your waist and carry it close to your body.

These are some ways to avoid sciatica that really pay off.  Take it from me, you don’t need it in your life.  If, however, you’re already struggling with sciatica, please call.

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