Sciatica and Desk Jobs: How to Stay Pain-Free While Working at a Computer

Sciatica and Desk Jobs: How to Stay Pain-Free While Working at a Computer

If you work at a desk job, you are likely familiar with the pains and strains associated with prolonged sitting. One common issue is sciatica, a painful condition that affects the sciatic nerve in the lower back and legs. Symptoms can include shooting pain, numbness, and tingling, making it difficult to sit, stand, or walk.

Fortunately, there are sciatica self-care steps you can take to prevent and alleviate sciatica while working at a computer. Here are some tips and stretches to help you stay pain-free at your desk job.

1.) Adjust your posture

One of the main causes of sciatica is poor posture, especially when sitting for long periods of time. To prevent this, sit up straight with your shoulders back and your feet flat on the ground. Your hips should be level with your knees, and your lower back should be supported by the backrest of your chair.

2.) Take breaks

Sitting for hours on end can be harmful to your health, so make sure to take regular breaks throughout the day. Get up and stretch, walk around, or even do a few quick exercises to get your blood flowing and loosen up your muscles.

3.) Use an ergonomic chair

Investing in a high-quality ergonomic chair can make a big difference in preventing sciatica. Look for a chair with adjustable height and lumbar support to keep your spine in a neutral position.

4.) Stretch your hips and legs

Stretching your hips and legs can help relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. Try doing a few of these stretches throughout the day:

  • Figure-four stretch: Sit with your feet flat on the ground and cross your right ankle over your left knee. Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in your right hip. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.
  • Pigeon pose: From all fours, bring your right knee forward towards your right wrist. Depending on your body it may be just behind your wrist or to the outer or the inner edge giving you a stretch on your outer hip without any discomfort in your knee. Your right ankle will be somewhere in front of your left hip. Slide your left leg back and point your toes, your heel is pointing up to the ceiling. Scissor your hips together, by drawing your legs in towards each other. Use some support under your right buttock if needed, to keep your hips level. As you inhale, come onto your fingertips, lengthen your spine, draw your navel in and open your chest. 
  • Seated hamstring stretch: Sit at the edge of your chair with your legs extended straight in front of you. Lean forward and reach for your toes, keeping your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds.

5.) Strengthen your core

A strong core can help support your lower back and prevent sciatica. Try incorporating these exercises into your routine:

  • Plank: Start in a push-up position and hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
  • Bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips up toward the ceiling, holding for a few seconds before lowering back down.
  • Bird dog: Begin on your hands and knees, then lift your right arm and left leg simultaneously. Hold for a few seconds before switching sides.

By following these tips and stretches, you can prevent and alleviate sciatica while working at a desk job. Remember to take breaks, adjust your posture, and stretch regularly to keep your body pain-free and healthy.

Top stretches to do daily courtesy of Athlete’s Care Sports Medicine Centres (Read the caption)

The Physiotherapist's Guide to Treating Sciatica Pain Effectively

While the above tips and stretches can be helpful in managing and preventing sciatica, those with persistent or severe pain may benefit from seeking professional help. One such avenue is physiotherapy.

Physiotherapy is a form of healthcare that utilizes exercise, manual therapy, and education to help individuals regain their mobility and manage pain. A physiotherapist can help to diagnose and treat the underlying causes of sciatica, which may include herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or piriformis syndrome.

A typical physiotherapy session for sciatica may include a combination of the following:

1.) Assessment

The first step in treating sciatica is understanding the root cause of the pain. A physiotherapist will perform a comprehensive evaluation, taking into account your medical history, symptoms, and physical examination. This will help to determine the source of the problem and create a customized treatment plan.

2.) Manual Therapy

Manual therapy involves hands-on techniques to help improve joint and muscle function. This may include massage, joint mobilization, or manipulation. Manual therapy can help to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as increase flexibility and range of motion.

3.) Exercises

Exercises are an essential component of physiotherapy for sciatica. A physiotherapist will create a personalized exercise program to help strengthen weak muscles, increase flexibility, and improve posture. These may include stretches for the lower back, hips, and legs, as well as core-strengthening exercises to support the spine.

4.) Education

A physiotherapist will provide education on posture, body mechanics, and ergonomic adjustments to prevent further injury and reduce the risk of future flare-ups. They may also offer advice on lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss or quitting smoking, that can help to improve overall health and reduce pain.

5.) Modalities

In addition to manual therapy and exercise, a physiotherapist may use other modalities to help alleviate pain and inflammation. These may include heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation. These modalities can help to reduce pain, improve circulation, and promote healing.

The benefits of physiotherapy for sciatica are numerous. By addressing the underlying cause of the pain, physiotherapy can help to reduce the need for medications or surgery. It can also improve overall quality of life by increasing mobility, reducing pain, and enhancing functional abilities.

If you are experiencing sciatica pain, it is important to seek help from a physiotherapist. They can help you to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs, taking into account your medical history, symptoms, and lifestyle factors. With a comprehensive approach that includes manual therapy, exercises, education, and modalities, physiotherapy can help you to manage your pain and improve your quality of life.

Check out these 3 effective hip stretches that help prevent against common injuries courtesy of Athlete’s Care Sports Medicine Centres (Read the caption)


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

When sleeping with sciatica, it is best to lie on your back with a pillow between your legs and a rolled-up towel beneath your lower back. This can help reduce the pressure on the affected area and alleviate pain.

Bed rest is typically not recommended for sciatica as it can worsen the symptoms. Instead, it is best to stay active and do gentle exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the affected area.

Foods that may worsen sciatica symptoms include processed and high-fat foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help reduce sciatica symptoms.

About Puru Chattopadhyay

Puru Chattopdhay completed his Masters of Physiotherapy in musculoskeletal disorders and sports physiotherapy and has over 15 years of experience working in in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation settings.

Puru has also completed training in acupuncture, dry needling, K-taping, vestibular rehab and concussion management. He has experience rehabilitating different orthopaedic conditions, including THR, TKR, other joint replacements and sports injuries. Puru has completed level 2 ortho division and also trained in various manual therapy techniques such as Maitland, Mckenzie and mulligan.

Puru believes in having a patient-centred approach while treating and working with his patients. He’s excited to be providing care at Athlete’s Care Oakville South.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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