I thought I'd talk a little bit further in depth about our sciatica conversation. In a previous blog we talked about the difference between sciatica versus piriformis syndrome, sciatica being where there's compression out of the spinal cord or the vertebrae where the sciatic nerve that travels and integrates the lower part of our body is getting either compressed by a bulged disc between the vertebrae or inflamed or herniated. Those are specific conditions that need to be addressed within the spinal cord and vertebrae. Then we also have the piriformis syndrome, which is typically as a result of muscles that either are weak or strong and tight that are compressing on the nerve, the sciatic nerve that travels through the buttocks. Those are a little bit more easy to address on your own, either through strengthening and stretching and also just watching what you do during your daily activities.
So that's why I wanted to go a little bit more in depth about that, is that just to be aware of some things that you might be doing during the day, either at work or at home, that might be causing a little bit or exacerbating that compression of the nerve.
Talking about office work, I think it's pretty common that everyone knows that office work is not the greatest in terms of the body getting a break from being in a specific sort of state, sitting state, all the time. What we want to be careful about is the slouching forward, so the shoulders rolled forward to reach the mouse or to look at the monitor. The neck tends to jut forward a little bit like that to look at the monitor and we tend to slouch down quite a bit, because we're sitting all the time. So think about sitting upright, as tall as you can be, bringing the shoulder blades back so that they're sort of more touching the spine. Then also thinking about keeping that chin back, not jutting forward. Then just naturally what happens is that lower back, there's less compression on the lower back. Even some people like a little bit of a rolled towel or lumbar support that helps them sit straight up.
The other thing you want to remember when you're sitting is making sure that your hips are just slightly above 90 degrees from your knees. So really giving you a little bit of that 90-degree angle and not either having your knees up or really, really low from your hips, because, again, that puts compression on the lower back, which is where that sciatic nerve is housed in our spinal cord.
That's in regard to our office sitting, but also one more thing I wanted to mention is what a lot of us tend to do is the crossing of the legs, so one leg over the other. That really causes a lot of havoc in that pelvic system. One leg being over causes that pelvis to rotate forward, and then puts a lot of strain on one side of the glutes and then weakens the other side. Often we can usually guess which side that you prefer to cross the leg over the other. It really does have an effect over the longterm, so think about not crossing the legs.
The other thing that's happening is when you do cross the legs, you're putting pressure on the hamstrings. The one that's resting on top of the other, that blood flow isn't able to get through the leg as easily and even the nerve gets compressed amongst those hamstrings. And this is I'm talking about the sciatic nerve that goes and integrates down into the toes. Again, just one thing to be conscious of.
In fact, I'd even recommend if you are finding that you typically do that, instead of crossing the legs what you can do is using the leg that you like to cross with, actually push down and put your ankle up on the knee and push down. Really what happens is then you end up stretching those glute muscles in the buttocks and it really is a great stretch to release some of the tension onto that sciatic nerve. That's just in regard to office work activity and sitting at the computer and what effects during the day that can sometimes cause that extra tension.
Another thing that we often recommend is, and I know how hard it can be to always think of this, but even if you set yourself a timer on your phone or your watch, every 20 minutes, we highly, highly recommend just getting up, stretching. Just side bending, where a one arm is sliding down the other down the leg and the other over your head. Just really stretching that lower back, bringing the arms back, behind your back, and just opening up the front of the chest. It really releases a lot of the strain that might be happening as a result of posture when you're sitting.
Yeah, so that's just in regard to office work. In regard to heavy labor work, obviously your workplace probably goes over this, but just another recommendation is to really think about lifting from the knees and the hips, and not always relying on that back to lift items up, because that's another source of injury for the sciatic nerve, where the lower back is overstrained as a result of heavy lifting and not using the legs. Our legs are powerful. They get us walking, moving, running, all that sort of thing. So use those muscles, that strength that you have in your knees and your hips to really bend from the knees and the hips up.
Hopefully that's helpful, a few ideas just to keep in the back of your mind when you are working during the day, and just to keep the body limber, loose, and reduce that compression that can happen on the sciatic nerve. Thanks, everyone.