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How to Sit with Piriformis Syndrome

by Patty Weasler, RN March 31, 2022 0 Comments

Woman sitting near a pond

If you have piriformis syndrome, sitting can make your symptoms worse. The leg, buttock, and back pain are caused by irritation and pinching of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle. Sitting all day can aggravate that muscle making your symptoms worse. Learning how to sit with piriformis syndrome and modify your sitting position can reduce your pain allowing you to complete your seated tasks and to comfortably go on with your day. Here’s how you can do just that.

Why Does Sitting Make Piriformis Syndrome Worse?

Sitting for long periods of time puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and is one common cause for piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is sometimes referred to as wallet sciatica or fat wallet syndrome. That’s because people who have a wallet in their back pocket and then sit on it are adding even more pressure to the sciatic nerve, leading to piriformis syndrome and buttock pain.

More on the Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome

Sitting also changes how you hold your core muscles. Often times when we sit our shoulders hunch over, our spine curves and our hips become flexed. This will have a negative impact on our spinal alignment and can trigger symptoms of piriformis syndrome.

Here’s How to Sit with Good Posture

How to Sit with Piriformis Syndrome

Learning how to sit properly is the first step in managing the hip, leg, and lower back pain that comes with piriformis syndrome. Once you have the sitting posture down it’s time to incorporate lumbar support, breaks, stretching, and more. Take a look at each strategy detailed below.

Sit with Good Posture

Learning proper sitting posture starts with using a good ergonomic chair. Once you have the right chair make sure you follow these steps to sit with good posture.

  • Keep your feet flat on the ground. Use a footrest if necessary.
  • Don’t let your hips sink further down than your knees.
  • Sit upright as possible.
  • Keep your shoulders back.
  • If you are looking at a computer screen, adjust it so that the top third is at your eye level.

Use a Lumbar Support or Seat Cushion

Having adequate lumbar, or lower back, support can help provide pain relief to those with piriformis syndrome. Lumbar support will help you keep your spine in alignment and reduce the added pressure that comes when you slouch. Add lumbar support with a cushion or it can even be built into your office chair. Seat cushions are also a great addition to any chair, the added support under the buttocks helps to relieve pressure and distribute weight evenly on the hips and lower back.

Browse Seat Cushions Here

Take Frequent Breaks

When you have to sit for prolonged periods it can take a toll on your body. Everything from your glutes, hip joints, and yes, your piriformis muscles will ache. Every 30 to 60 minutes make sure to take a break. This means standing up and moving around. You’ll find that your body craves movement. Some people find that light stretching also releases any aches they have built up.

Do you work a desk job? Standing desks are a great addition to any office. Most desks are programmable and can be used when sitting or standing. Try setting stand goals throughout the day to relieve built-up pressure on your joints.

Stretching

Stretching is a great way to loosen tight piriformis muscles, improve your range of motion, and increase blood flow. A piriformis stretch should include working the gluteal muscles, hamstrings, and lower back. If you need specific guidance on your stretches, reach out to a physical therapist.

Try these stretches and exercises to improve symptoms throughout the day.

Heat Therapy

Electric heating pads are super convenient when it comes to pain when sitting. This is an easy way to apply heat to your hips, lower back, or even the back of the leg where you may be experiencing symptoms of piriformis syndrome. Heat will help to soothe achiness and increase blood flow for recovery.

More on When to Use Heat Therapy

Reduce Sitting Pain

Sitting is a part of our everyday lives. For some people, they need to sit for several hours a day for work and if you add piriformis syndrome into sitting for long periods then you’ll inevitably have pain. To reduce sitting pain we recommend modifying your sitting position to ensure you have proper posture, use a lumbar support, stretch frequently, and take breaks. Always reach out to your doctor for medical advice when managing any condition.

Sources:

https://www.coachsofiafitness.com/how-to-sit-to-reduce-lower-back-and-neck-pain/

https://www.emedicinehealth.com/piriformis_syndrome/article_em.htm

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN



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