The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks and all the way down both legs and ends at your feet. When the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, it can cause pain or numbness. There may even be a tingling sensation that radiates from your lower back that travels down your leg to your foot and toes. Some people experience weakness in their calf muscles and in the muscles that move their foot and ankle. Sneezing, coughing or sitting for long periods of time can make matters worse and even unbearable to tolerate.
The pain usually affects the buttocks and legs much more than it does the back yet the ‘hunched over’ stance is very common for people suffering from sciatica. Your chiropractor has very effective treatments for sciatica pain. Early treatment can prevent long-term effects.
There are proper techniques for doing very basic things such as sitting for long periods and for lifting objects that can help prevent recurrence. Being mindful of sleeping positions and posture throughout the day is also important. Remember that stretching is always a good idea before and after workouts and for keeping the body limber!
You can minimize your risk of sciatica with good posture, good lifting habits and incorporating exercise and stretching into your daily routines. Simply being aware of sitting properly and to always bend at the knees when lifting can prevent sciatica, too.
Correct sitting position:
- Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair.
- All three normal back curves should be present while sitting. A small, rolled-up towel or a lumbar roll can be used to help you maintain the normal curves in your back.
- Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips.
- Bend your knees at a right angle. Keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips – use a foot rest or stool if necessary – and your legs should not be crossed.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
- At work, adjust your chair height and work station so you can sit up close to your work and tilt it up at you.
- Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- When sitting in a chair that rolls and pivots, don’t twist at the waist while sitting. Instead, turn your whole body.
- When standing up from the sitting position, move to the front of the seat of your chair. Stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist. Stretch when you are upright.
Correct lifting position:
- If you must lift objects, do not try to lift objects that are awkward or are heavier than 30 pounds.
- Before you lift a heavy object, make sure you have firm footing.
- To pick up an object that is lower than the level of your waist, keep your back straight and bend at your knees and hips. Do not bend forward at the waist with your knees straight.
- Stand with a wide stance close to the object you are trying to pick up and keep your feet firm on the ground. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift the object using your leg muscles. Straighten your knees in a steady motion. Don’t jerk the object up to your body.
- Stand completely upright without twisting. Always move your feet forward when lifting an object.
- If you are lifting an object from a table, slide it to the edge to the table so that you can hold it close to your body. Bend your knees so that you are close to the object. Use your legs to lift the object and come to a standing position.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects above waist level.
- Hold packages close to your body with your arms bent. Keep your stomach muscles tight. Take small steps and go slowly.
- To lower the object, place your feet as you did to lift, tighten stomach muscles and bend your hips and knees.
How can you change up your work station to support your spine health?