How Your Sitting Position Affects Your Sciatic Nerve

Sciatic nerve pain is a common problem affecting many people, with symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain.

This is the longest nerve in our body, running from the lower back down to the feet, and is responsible for sensation and movement in the legs. The condition occurs when there is compression, irritation, or damage to the sciatic nerve, leading to lower back pain that can radiate down to the buttocks and legs.

How Sitting Position Affects Sciatic Nerve

Types of Positions that Affect Your Sciatic Nerve:

Sitting for a prolonged period

Prolonged sitting is more dangerous than smoking. Your whole upper body weight rests on the lower back when sitting, increasing the pressure on the nerve roots.

Poor ergonomics

Poor ergonomics is a substantial aspect that leads to the onset or aggravation of sciatica. Poor sitting posture causes additional pressure on your lower back, resulting in muscle spasms and the likelihood of inflamed sciatic nerve. Moreover, sitting on a chair that doesn’t provide proper support can cause your back to curve and your hips to tilt forward, resulting in pain in the sciatic nerve.

Slouched or slumped posture

Sitting in a reclined position can cause pressure on the lower back, compressing the sciatic nerve. Leaning forward or sitting in a slumped posture can strain the lower back, which may lead to nerve irritation and worsening sciatica. This is particularly problematic for those already experiencing sciatic nerve pain.

Sitting cross-legged

Sitting cross-legged for a long time can lead to increased pressure on one side of the body, which can aggravate sciatica on that side. This is because the position can cause the pelvis to tilt, leading to a misalignment of the spine and compression of the sciatic nerve. To prevent the worsening of sciatica, it is crucial to avoid sitting cross-legged for long periods and to maintain good posture.

Sitting on uneven surfaces

Sitting on an object like a wallet or things in your back pocket can cause sciatic nerve pain as it tilts your pelvis and leads to an imbalance in the weight distribution in the pelvis, causing pressure on the sciatic nerve and repeated stress to the piriformis muscle. The long-term effect can lead to compression of the sciatic nerve, which can cause significant discomfort and pain. It is quite important to be mindful of what you sit on and how it affects your posture to avoid putting undue pressure on your sciatic nerve.


To avoid sciatic nerve pain, it’s essential to maintain good posture when sitting. This can be achieved by sitting with a straight back and relaxed shoulders, distributing weight evenly, and reducing pressure on the lower back and hips. Choosing a chair with good lumbar support is vital to maintaining the lower back’s natural curve. Additionally, keeping both feet flat on the ground helps to maintain balance and reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Taking frequent breaks is also crucial when sitting for long periods. This involves getting up and stretching, walking around, or changing positions to avoid prolonged pressure on the sciatic nerve. By following these tips, you can maintain good posture and reduce the risk of sciatic nerve pain caused by prolonged sitting in a poor posture. To learn more about sciatica, contact our Pain Management Specialist.