Coping with Sciatica in the Workplace

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Man with back pain at the office

Try these simple methods for easing sciatica woes that come up during the workday.

Have you been challenged with the agony of working with sciatica, or a pinched nerve that causes pain to radiate from your back down through your leg? If so, then it’s time to get relief. Here are some tips to reduce the discomfort of chronic sciatica and get your focus back on your work.

Work Environment Modifications

Your work environment can either be the cause or an aggravating circumstance when it comes to sciatica. Regardless, you can make some workplace adjustments to help lessen your pain.

Sciatica in the Workplace: Posture

Sitting

If your job consists of sitting all day, be sure to sit with proper posture: use a swivel chair with arm rests and good lower back support. You can also put a rolled towel behind the small of your back if your chair is not giving you enough support. It helps to keep your feet flat on the ground, with your knees and hips level. Whenever possible, get up and walk around or do some stretching exercises at your desk.

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Standing

Jobs that require standing all day can aggravate your pain; try resting one foot on a stool or box for periods of time throughout the day. Remember to sit during your breaks and lunchtime. You will benefit from incorporating some stretching exercises throughout the day as well.

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Lifting

Heavy lifting on the job can be an issue if not done correctly. First rule of lifting, do not lift with your back: lift with your lower extremities, using core muscles. Keep your back straight, bend only your knees and move straight up and down without twisting your body. Never attempt to lift any object that is too heavy or difficult to maneuver, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Exercising for Sciatica Relief

Regular exercise is better for sciatica pain than inactivity or bed rest, which can make your pain worse. A routine of moderate strengthening and stretching exercises will improve recovery time and help prevent future occurrences. Your doctor will want to design an exercise program that addresses the underlying cause of your sciatica pain, so an accurate diagnosis is always the first step. In order for exercises for sciatica to be effective, you need to learn the purpose of each type of activity.

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Core Strengthening

The types of sciatica exercises your doctor or physical therapist will recommend will target your abdominal and lower back muscles. By developing these muscles you improve your alignment and posture while providing support for your back.

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Stretching Exercises

Sciatica pain is often the result of tight, inflexible muscles around the sciatic nerve. For example, tight hamstring muscles (in the back of your thigh) puts stress on your lower back, increasing sciatica pain: remember to keep these muscles flexible and stretched. For proper stretching technique, hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds and avoid bouncing or twisting.

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Aerobic and Walking Conditioning

For general overall fitness, aerobic exercise is always encouraged. Walking, however, is especially good for your lower back; you get the same benefits of aerobic exercise but with lower impact.

Living and working with sciatica can be difficult, but most people, with the help of their doctor, can implement strategies to successfully manage the symptoms. And the good news? Sciatica sufferers heal more quickly if they continue with their regular activities at home and at work.

 

 

Sources:
Spine Health: Sciatica Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief
Mayo Clinic: Lifestyle and home remedies
Mayo Clinic: Sciatica Prevention

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