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How To Relieve Sciatica at Work: 6 Stretches You Can Do Right at Your Desk

Ah, sciatica – that nagging pain that shoots down your leg, making even sitting at your desk a Herculean task. If you're like many of us who spend hours on end hunched over a computer, you know the struggle all too well.

The good news? You don't have to suffer silently. With a few simple stretches and a little creativity, you can ease that sciatic pain right at your workspace. Let's take a look at this sometimes crippling condition and what you can do about it no matter where you are.

LivaFortis looks at how you can help relieve sciatica in the office.

Understanding Sciatica

Before we dive into the stretches, let's quickly understand what sciatica is. Sciatica is not a condition in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or piriformis syndrome.

Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down the back of each leg, becomes compressed or irritated. This compression leads to pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the lower back, buttocks, and legs.

Sciatica is often experienced by men and women equally.

Interesting Facts About Sciatica:

According to data from the Cleveland Clinic, sciatica is quite common with some 40% of people experiencing it at some point in their life. We thought you might be interested in these fun facts about sciatica.

Facts About Sciatica:

  • It is found in males and females somewhat equally.

  • Around 10% to 40% of people will experience it at some point in their lives.

  • There is an annual incidence of 1% to 5%.

  • It is most common in people around 40 years of age.

  • No association with body height has been established except in patients aged 50 to 60.

  • It rarely occurs before age 20 unless some sort of trauma has occurred.

  • Physical activity tends to help people who haven't had sciatica before.

  • If you have had sciatica before physical activity might not be the best option.

  • Some studies do suggest that there might be a genetic link.

  • Jobs like those held by machine operators, truck drivers, and other physically demanding jobs tend to have a higher incidence of sciatica.

Stretching at work is a great way to prevent sciatica.

Why Stretch at Work?

While the exercises we are looking at in this article aren't exactly new ones, and we have written about them in other blogs, this article looks specifically at ways that you can do them in the workplace.

Incorporating stretches into your workday routine can help relieve sciatica at work by improving flexibility, reducing muscle tension, and promoting better posture. Plus, taking short breaks to stretch can boost circulation and increase energy levels, making you more productive in the long run.

So, let's get to it! Here are six sciatica stretches you can easily do at work, using nothing more than your office chair and a few common office items.

You can do sciatica stretches in your chair at work.

Relieve Sciatica At Work - Office Items You Can Use

You don't need fancy equipment to do these stretches. Here are some common office items that can enhance your stretching routine:

  • Chair: For seated stretches and support.

  • Desk: Use for stability during standing stretches like the Desk Forward Fold.

  • Wall: Great for standing stretches and providing a stable surface.

  • Water Bottle: Use as a makeshift foam roller for massaging tight muscles.

  • Timer or App: Set reminders to take stretch breaks throughout the day.

seated piriformis stretch at work.

1. Seated Piriformis Stretch

What it targets: Piriformis muscle, which can irritate the sciatic nerve when tight.

How to do it:

  1. Sit tall in your chair.

  2. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, forming a "figure 4" shape.

  3. Gently lean forward while keeping your back straight, feeling a stretch in your right buttock.

  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.

  5. Switch legs and repeat.

Workspace Hack: Anchor your chair against a wall or desk to prevent it from rolling while you stretch.

LivaFortis explores how a Hamstring stretch at work can help with sciatica

2. Standing Hamstring Stretch

What it targets: Hamstrings, which can pull on the lower back when tight.

How to do it:

  1. Stand up and place your right heel on the floor in front of you, toes pointing up.

  2. Keeping your back straight, hinge forward at the hips until you feel a stretch down the back of your right leg.

  3. Hold for 15-30 seconds.

  4. Switch legs and repeat.

Workspace Hack: Use your desk or a sturdy chair for support to help maintain balance as you stretch.

seated spinal twist at work can help with sciatica

3. Seated Spinal Twist

What it targets: Spine and lower back, promoting mobility and relieving tension.

How to do it:

  1. Sit tall in your chair with feet flat on the floor.

  2. Twist your torso to the right, placing your left hand on the outside of your right thigh or the armrest.

  3. Hold the back of your chair with your right hand for support.

  4. Hold the twist for 15-30 seconds, then switch sides.

Workspace Hack: Opt for a chair with armrests to make this stretch more comfortable and effective.

Taking time to stretch at work can help relieve sciatica pain.

4. Desk Forward Fold

What it targets: Entire back body, including hamstrings, lower back, and shoulders.

How to do it:

  1. Stand facing your desk with feet hip-width apart.

  2. Place your hands on the edge of the desk, shoulder-width apart.

  3. Walk your feet back until your body forms an L shape, keeping your back flat.

  4. Gently press your hips back and down, feeling a stretch through your back and hamstrings.

  5. Hold for 15-30 seconds.

Workspace Hack: If your desk has a sturdy top, you can also use it for this stretch by placing your hands on the surface.

Cat cow position is a great stretch for low back pain.

5. Chair Cat-Cow Stretch

What it targets: Spine mobility and flexibility, relieving tension in the back.

How to do it:

  1. Sit tall in your chair with both feet flat on the floor.

  2. Place your hands on your knees.

  3. Inhale as you arch your back, lifting your chest and looking up (Cow).

  4. Exhale as you round your spine, tucking your chin to your chest (Cat).

  5. Continue flowing between Cow and Cat for 1 minute.

Workspace Hack: This stretch can be done discreetly during a meeting or while on a call, providing a gentle release for your back.

stretching at work can make a big difference to low back pain.

6. Calf Raises

What it targets: Calf muscles and improves circulation in the legs.

How to do it:

  1. Stand behind your chair, holding onto the back for support.

  2. Lift both heels off the floor, rising onto the balls of your feet.

  3. Hold for a moment, then lower back down.

  4. Repeat for 15-20 reps.

Workspace Hack: Turn this into a mini-workout by doing calf raises while waiting for files to download or during phone calls.

Taking time to stretch during the work day can help relieve sciatica pain.


Remember, consistency is key when it comes to managing sciatica. Aim to incorporate these stretches into your daily routine, taking short breaks every hour to move and stretch. By doing so, you'll not only find relief from sciatic pain but also improve your overall well-being and productivity at work.

Do you have a favorite sciatica stretch that helps you at work? Share it with us in the comments below! Here's to a happier, healthier workday, one stretch at a time.


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