How to sit for long periods with minimal sciatica pain

I just spent yesterday afternoon going to a wine tasting up in Napa with my wife and sister in law. I chose to sit in the back seat to allow the sisters to spend time together. This event got me thinking about sitting and although it is a relatively passive activity, can cause a lot of pain for people. There are three static positions that we assume during our lifetime, standing, sitting, and lying. If we are to avoid one position, that is 33% of the positions that we are missing out on.

Do I think that you have to avoid sitting? Is sitting the new smoking? 

The answer is no.

Although I do believe in 2 main principles: 1) our bodies prefer to move, 2) while being in an active state of pain, there is a way for us to comfortably assume a position, even if it is for 5 minutes.

So here’s how to sit for periods of time with minimal pain:

The first thing to do is get your feet supported. One reason why I’m not a fan of barstools is that my feet are usually hanging off the chair because the foot rests are either too low or there are no foot rests at all. That tilts the pelvis forward and makes it difficult to maintain a relatively neutral spine. As a result, I’m either too arched or too rounded.

Next, it is important to get the pelvis as deep into the chair as possible. This allows the pelvis to be supported by the chair itself rather than you having to put in all the work to maintain your position. If you can’t reach the back of the chair, simply placing a pillow in the back to provide support will help. You can also find a lumbar support role on  Amazon.

There are two major areas that you can sit on while using a chair. Your sit bones (where the thigh bone meets the buttock) and the butt mussels themselves. You don’t have to be in one position the whole time. In fact, if you transition from one area to the other every 20-30 minutes, you will be able to reduce the amount of stress on the spine, resulting in less pain.

The last action to take is to get up every hour or so. It is easy if you are sitting and working (I’m sitting on the couch as I’m writing this email). I am a naturally antsy person, so getting up every now and then to shake off the stiffness will be key to allowing you to sit for longer periods of time.

You don’t need to avoid sitting altogether, but it is important that you keep the above principles in mind so that you can make this activity more tolerable.


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