What does ergonomics have to do with sciatica? A lot, actually! If you have sciatica, you know low back, buttock, and leg pain can make working at a desk all day painfully difficult.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is common among sedentary adults, although it is often confused with general lower back pain.

According to Dr. Jeffrey N. Katz, a professor of medicine specialising in orthopaedic surgery at Harvard, people suffering from chronic back pain are at a higher risk of sciatica. The risk is also higher for smokers, obese people and those who are sedentary.

Sciatica is a condition that affects the sciatic nerves, the two largest nerves in the human body, that are as thick as your pinky finger. The nerves start from the lower spine (lumbar) and extend through the entire leg right down to the toes. The function of the sciatic nerves is to relay messages from the brain to the legs.

Cause of Sciatica

Sciatic pain appears when the root of the nerves become compressed or pinched. This can happen as a result of health issues such as osteoarthritis. The pain can also affect any part of the leg, as the nerve extends down the entire leg. This includes pain in the lower back, calves and upper thighs.



- Keep hips at 45 degree angle

- Keep knees at 45 degree angle

- Keep feet flat on floor (or footrest)

- Ensure your bottom is at the back of the seat pan when seated

- Use an ergonomic chair:

          - with castor wheels to move your                 body around the space

          - with lumbar support to support                   the spine

          - High back to support your entire                 back


-Cross your legs while seated

-Have your hips or knees under 45 degree angle

- Twist or turn your body while seated in the chair



As sedentary behaviour is linked to a cause for sciatica, moving is the number one recommendation in regards to relief from sciatica at work.  Thankfully in these modern times, a standing desk has been created to easily allow the user to continue working from a sit to standing position.  This will relieve the tension on the nerve and reduce discomfort at the desk.


Break your work day schedule up to include some short trips to the kitchen or bathroom to allow your body to move.


As stated above, a lot of 'dos' for sciatica pain is in relation to the support you receive from your chair.  Investing in an adjustable chair with a high back will provide the flexibility to place your body in the most comfortable and ergonomic position to help assist with the relief of sciatica pain at work.


Kneeling chairs are able to shift the weight of your body from the base of your spine to the legs, creating a greater area for a supportive base while sitting - meaning less weight on the root of the nerve.

ways to reduce sitting in workplace


Using a sculptured cushion while seating that specifically supports your base. Such cushions are made up of soft, contouring material that may provide you with some relief to your lower back buttocks, and hips.


Chat with your health professional (such as a GP, physiologist, occupational therapist) to understand your individual pain areas and ideas on how to decrease your pain and increase comfort while you work. They may recommend anti-inflammatories and a hot or cold pack to ease pain so you can work more comfortably and productively.  They can also advise on the best exercises for your condition to get you back to being as productive as possible.


Sciatica is a rehabilitative condition, and can be prevented with the help of some good ergonomics in the workplace.  If you have sciatica and are required to sit, ensure to place your body in the most ergonomic position, and invest in equipment that can help support your body into that position for pain relief and increased comfort.  It's great to know there are solutions to this condition and if you have any other questions about solutions for sciatica or ergonomics in general, please feel free to contact our team for more information on: info@nomorepainergonomics.com.au

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