Standing longer than a few hours can cause significant stress on the lower back and can cause your leg muscles to fatigue.
To combat this, you may try to lock your knees, put pressure on one leg, or even try to lean through your hips, just know that this type of posture is not good for your spine and especially the lower back as it causes undue stress to the spinal discs.
The increased stress in the lower back and muscle fatigue can cause compression, pinching, or irritation of the sciatic nerve triggering sciatica. Prolonged standing can put you at high risk of developing sciatica as noted in research published by the Springer Nature Journal.
If you have sciatica and your occupation involves prolonged periods of standing, here are some ways to manage your sciatica.
1. Take short breaks
Take short breaks while at work to walk and stretch. Walking improves muscle flexibility, reduces stress, and improves the flow of blood and nutrition to the spine. Stretching can relax stressed leg muscles, the lower back, increase flexibility, and can be beneficial in reducing your sciatica pain. Stretches can be performed during short breaks to relieve your sciatica. If taking frequent short breaks may not be feasible, walking during a lunch break can also help relieve sciatica. Every little bit helps.
2. Wear supportive shoes
Wearing the right shoes that provide cushioning and arch support to your feet can help reduce stress on the spine and the lower back. Make sure that your shoes fit you comfortably. Custom-fit orthotics for your feet can provide the ideal support and relieve stress during prolonged standing.
3. Practice good posture
Good posture while standing can greatly reduce stress on the spine thereby relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve. To maintain a good posture while standing, keep your feet about hip width apart, stand straight without hunching or leaning forward, and keep your shoulders back. Put most of your body weight on the balls of your feet and refrain from leaning on your toes.
4. Low impact exercise and stretches
Regular exercising is a great way to improve muscle strength, increase flexibility, reduce stress, and improve overall health and manage your sciatica. Exercise can also help manage body weight and reduce the risk of sciatica. Sciatica exercises and stretches including a knee to chest stretch, pelvic tilt, glute stretches, and walking can help reduce pain and manage your sciatica.
5. Use hot/cold therapy
Hot and cold therapy can help relax strained muscles, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain.
Use warm compresses like an electric heating pad, bags of wheat, or rice to increase blood flow to the affected area, relax stiff muscles, promote recovery, and improve range of motion. Applying a cool compress like a gel pack, ice pack, or frozen vegetable bag can reduce swelling by decreasing the flow of blood, relieve inflammation and reduce pain.
Alternating between hot and cold packs can be done to reduce your pain and provide much-needed relief. Apply the compress on the lower back region just above the pelvic area for 10-15 minutes per session. Overuse is not recommended as it may damage skin and muscles.
Self-care can help manage sciatica
Self-care and home management of sciatica can help reduce pain and improve your mobility. However, consult a medical professional if your sciatica continues to worsen or it affects your quality of life. Safe, pain-free non-surgical treatment options including spinal decompression, spinal manipulation, physical therapy, and massage therapy are available to treat your sciatica pain effectively and help you get back to feeling great.
Thinking that you might want to try some ways to alleviate your discomfort with your sciatica pain? South Orange Rehabilitation & Wellness for your consultation on next steps.