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3 Ways to Overcome Sciatica Pain While Standing

3 Ways to Overcome Sciatica Pain While Standing

sciatica pain while standing

This was a question I was asked recently by one of my patients who was suffering with sciatica pain while standing after a short period of time, as opposed to most sufferers who get sciatic pain after being seated for a period of time. It turned out that they worked at a local supermarket and spent long periods of time standing on a hard floor.

As I also, at one time during my working life, had to stand in one place working a machine for hours on end, I fully empathised with their situation. Do not underestimate how much impact walking or standing on a hard surface can have on low back-related leg pain. In fact, most large joint pains, such as hip pain or knee pain. Places with really hard floors tend to be the worst to walk around such as shopping centres (malls) and airports.

Sciatica pain commonly results from nerves being trapped in one of three places: –

  • the lower lumbar vertebrae.
  • the sacroiliac joint.
  • where the nerve passes through the gluteal muscles (buttock) and is commonly referred to as ‘piriformis syndrome’.

Sitting can cause sciatic pain to occur when pressure is applied to the sciatic nerve in any of these three locations. However, for pain to occur only whilst standing, it is likely that the pain is stemming from either the lower lumbar vertebrae or the sacroiliac joint.

So, what can you do to help relieve sciatica pain while standing?

  1. Invest in some well cushioned shoes and regularly move rather than standing on one spot.
  2. If your occupation involves standing in one location, i.e. behind a customer service desk or at a machine for long periods of time, approach your employer with a request for cushioned matting.
  3. Stretch as often as possible, and the simple stretch shown here can be done anywhere; if done regularly throughout the day it will relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Stretch for sciatica pain while standing

The full details of how to perform this stretch are explained in a previous blog called, ‘The Easiest Stretch for Sciatica’.

With regard to comfortable shoes for standing and walking; apart from good comfortable trainers and walking shoes, of which there are many various makes, it can be difficult to find well cushioned, smart business shoes. I can personally recommend Hush Puppies, Clarks and Rockport. My wife recommends Paver and Hotter brands. Alternatively, gel heel inserts can be of great benefit.

Once again, I hope this has been helpful in reducing sciatica pain while standing.

Ian

50 Comments

  1. Enda Francis on January 1, 2022 at 8:36 am

    Hi SPRC, x6 months ago I had a fall on a bench then high pain in which could hardly stand. Doctor sent me to MRI in which shows disk herniation L4-L5 compressing on my right side nerve. Sent to a Orthopedic I was then put on a Physio program + stretching with painkillers. In which I have improvements(70%) as no pain at all sitting, but I strangely still have inconsistent pain on my right back it’s not radiating down but just then on my right ankle everyday. Is there anything you could please recommend that I could fully heal?

    Thanks,

    Enda

    • SPRC on January 1, 2022 at 4:39 pm

      Hi Edna, You sound well on your way to recovery. It sounds as though the work with the physio is working. Unfortunately nerve tissue is slow to heal. If you are patient and continue with the progress you are making it highly likely all your symptoms will be resolved eventually. Take care.

  2. C.W. Jeter on December 31, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    My husband – six months ago – was a very active fast walker (6-9 miles/day at a 14-15 min pace). Sciatica started rather mild at first, but with rehab, some mild medication, an MRI, and later two steroid injections, he is actually worse. During that time, though, as a very active man (older than 55) he continued to mow the lawn, do yard work and attempt to walk. It was very difficult for him to just rest, and he did not want to take much medication. Two weeks ago after an MRI and being referred to a surgeon who does not want to perform surgery — not knowing exactly where to target since he has multiple issues with his back (some disk issues/spinal stenosis) – he is feeling very despondent. He can sleep soundly at night, he can walk approximately one quarter of a mile without too much pain. But later he has aching in his lower back, glutes and down the leg. Generally this will occur later. He is on a very low dosage of gabapinten that probably isn’t helping that much and possibly changing to Lyrica. In the meantime, I am a runner and understand the value of staying active – I used to walk many miles with him, as well as my own exercise. I am trying to keep him active by encouraging him to walk feeling that it is still better to keep him moving than to just sit down. I would like advice as to whether I am doing the right thing. It is difficult to get good advice as to how to keep going forward while waiting for the next doctor appointment.

    • SPRC on January 1, 2022 at 4:35 pm

      Your instincts to remain active are correct and your husbands high levels of activity and fitness are a blessing. This will ultimately be the key to his recovery. Taking heart from that will hopefully lift his spirits. Partaking in physical activity can improve your mood as well as the physical benefits and this should not be underestimated. For active people the issue is usually one of load. By this we are referring to the volume and intensity of exercise. In recovery where pain is concerned we want to ‘knock at the door, but do not push it open.’ We need to find an exercise level that does not trigger symptoms that are beyond knocking at the door. Building up from that level patiently and steadily is likely to reap benefits. Best wishes.

  3. Brian D on November 8, 2021 at 3:00 am

    My pain is exactly as discussed in your article. Sitting is fine. Cycling is even fine. Standing/walking is agony. This pain started about six weeks ago and has not let up. Today, at the grocery store, I noticed that doing a kind ifc”push-up” on the shopping cart relieved the pain and I could walk quickly.

    I had a sacroiliac steroid injection two weeks ago: no change. Now they want to do an intradisk injection L3-L4. I can’t reconcile that with no pain while cycling. You give me something to ask about on another visit. I may want to see them to discuss your article.

    • SPRC on November 8, 2021 at 3:17 pm

      Certainly food for thought there Brian. Hope you make some headway with your healthcare providers. Best regards.

    • Raquel on February 28, 2022 at 2:43 am

      Hi Brian,

      I’m wandering if you figured out what the problem was or if you found a way to help with the pain. I’m in the same situation as you and the same push-up motion relieves the pain too. I haven’t been successful in figuring out the problem.

      • SPRC on February 28, 2022 at 2:16 pm

        The pushing up motion helps relieve the pain most likely because there is less compression force or weight going through the spine as your arms take some of your body weight. Less compression through the spine some times relieves irritation of nerves depending on the source of the irritation. This is why sometimes a temporary walking aid such as a crutch to take some of the body weight can be helpful where the symptoms are exacerbated while standing or walking in the acute stage.

  4. Verna david on July 23, 2021 at 10:02 pm

    I have sciatica but broke my femur 6 years ago had a rod put in then had a parochial knee replaced the other day I decided together something in my tall pantry so I put my right foot on chair to stand did that twice instead of getting a ladder I am only 4’10 my sciatica acted up on My right butt then in morning I could not sit to pee or put my foot down I almost passed out from pain called the Dr he said muscle relaxer and tenatole drug I woke up next day still could not sit to pee it was like. Mussels spasm in my femur he gave me a shot it is a week today still in morning can’t sit to pee until spasm goes away I lay on bed put leg up and massage it until my pain med works did I damage my femur.

    • SPRC on July 24, 2021 at 10:41 am

      Hi Verna,
      Sorry to hear about your accident.If you had damaged your femur, i.e., a break of some kind it would probably cause a lot of pain when weight bearing (standing/walking) in your thigh. The only way to know definitively is to image the bone with X-ray. If it is concerning you this is something you need to discuss with your Doctor. Best wishes.

  5. myofitness on June 4, 2021 at 9:13 am

    Hello…
    The blogs are really appreciable and one can trust the knowledge and information provided in the writing.

  6. Frank Buck on April 23, 2021 at 11:38 pm

    The pain when I am driving is unbearable I have to stop every 30 minutes get out of my car and walk around it stops hurting when I stand how can I get this pain to go away

  7. Fizz on March 10, 2021 at 11:58 pm

    My MRI shows I have disc herniations 4mm at L4/L5 and 10mm at L5/S1. Initial pain started in October 2020 where my lower back on the right aside had tremendous pain to the point it was hard to walk. This gradually started moving toward my right piriformis muscle where it was a stabbing pain. After shortening my piriformis muscle with stretches, the pain in my buttock went away. Shortly after is when the Sciatica kicked in about Jan 2021. I couldn’t lay down, sleep, or stand/walk for more that 5 minutes. Chiropractors tell me my sciatica is related to my pelvis but I find that hard to believe since several adjustments haven’t helped at all. I took an epidural injection and that relieved some of the pain. I am now able to find a position that doesn’t hurt to sleep well but I still cannot stand or walk for more than 5 minutes without feeling sciatica in my hamstring and right outter foot. Its been 1 month since the injection and 6 months since the injury. I can deal with the lower pack pain but I cant get rid of the sciatica that kicks in after I stand or walk for more than 5 minutes. Any advice?

    • SPRC on March 12, 2021 at 5:48 pm

      Hello Faizan,
      You sound like an expert after what you have been through. Based on the progression of your symptoms patience is going to be needed. Nerves are the slowest healing tissue in the body, but from what you describe you are moving in the right direction. Listen to the advice your Doctor and physio is providing you. Standing and walking require more strength than sitting or sleeping. This can be a clue as to what you need to focus on to help with your progression. A good physio can help you improve your strength to help you recover. Best wishes.

    • Lisa on March 23, 2021 at 1:22 pm

      Hey, I have had EXACTLY the same problem and I’m at my wits end. Back pain to where I couldn’t walk, then right buttock pain to where I couldn’t straighten up and now it’s behind my knee down to my right foot. Strange cuz I can bend my back all over the place with zero pain but my leg…. I can’t even stand for 5 minutes! It feels like a hamstring injury. It’s so debilitating. I’ve had pain medications and nerve medications from the doctor, even had the nerve medications doubled. I’ve been doing yoga and physio but nothing seems to help. This is month 4 now and I’m tearing my hair out. Any advice is welcome.

    • GRAEME MANN on May 12, 2021 at 4:39 pm

      I am a Butcher I had to stand at a block all day and Road Sweeper. I am having problems putting on my sock and tie my right hand side foot. After i have pain up my side.

    • Louis on September 2, 2021 at 12:46 pm

      I started feeling pain at the back of my right leg in June 2020 my doctor prescribed pain killer drugs for me. I used them but no results and after like three months the pain left me.
      Again on July 2021 the pain arose. I have been using pain killer drugs no results. I have also undergone x-ray twice and the physiotherapist after going through the film results he said nothing is wrong with my bones but the pain is around my buttocks, back of my legs till down.
      Please what do I need to do?

    • Rashania Dewberry on October 25, 2021 at 12:22 pm

      Hello!
      I had a work injury in 2018 which resulted in 2 herniated discs. L4-L5 and L5-S1. I’ve been dealing with this for all this time and I can be honest; I didn’t follow my treatment plan as I should’ve because I was terrified to move and the doctors were telling me to stretch despite the pain.. I thought they were crazy!! Fast forward to the present.. I did a lot of research on my condition, which I finally came to the realization that “movement is butter”.. and YouTubed a bunch of PT stretches specifically for my condition. Plot twist.. my back feels better than it has in years but for some reason I got a new symptom. Immense pain that starts on my left buttcheek (so debilitating) runs down the outer side of my thigh..down the outer side of my knee.. into my calf and down to the foot. I can’t sleep, sit, walk for too long or stand for too long. I’ve done stretches for sciatica, piriformis syndrome, lumbar stretches etc. I I’m trying not to give up but being 31 and crying like a toddler is getting exhausting. Please help.

      • SPRC on October 25, 2021 at 12:42 pm

        Keep with the exercises and try strengthening as well as stretching. It may be worthwhile investigating nerve flossing stretching exercises. Best wishes.

      • jesus zuniga on April 2, 2022 at 3:01 am

        I feel your pain literally. I started that way when I got my sciatica and never experienced back pain. Doctors don’t know much really and they can’t help aside from drugs or therapy or surgery. Just think about what a doctor can do and you’ll realise they can’t do much because they don’t know much. My point is that we have to figure out our pain triggers and stay away from them as much as possible. Then we have figure out what work from the volumes of information on the web. Once you accomplish that then just ask the good Lord for patience, courage, and strength to tolerate your new life, I do all of that and it helps.

  8. Eva on February 8, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    Hello Gale,
    I started having sciatica around March of last year and I was really worried since I’m only 17 years old and I’ve only ever heard that it occurred for people that were a bit older than me. This past year has been very hard since I am a competitive dancer so I’m always active, but it does hurt a lot and I do have to sit down quite often. I have scoliosis aswell so I think that has something to do with it, I’ve consulted my doctor several times and they’ve only given me muscle relaxers and have told me to walk for 20 mins. I only get the pain when I’m standing up not when I’m sitting down. Do you know what may be causing it since I’m so young? Also anything that could help get rid of the pain? Or atleest not be able to feel it all the time.
    Thank you

    • SPRC on February 9, 2021 at 11:13 pm

      Dear Eva,
      It is not common to experience sciatica symptoms at such a young age so we do feel for you. It may be linked to your scoliosis and your Doctor should be able to give you some insight with that. If it is sciatica symptoms due to low back irritation then it is the same thing that most people experience symptoms from, but your Doctor should be able to shed some light in this for you. The good thing being so young are likely to recover quicker and more fully. You sound active, which always helps. You have noticed that standing causes symptoms more than sitting so try and find other triggers in your normal daily activities and try to modify behaviour to reduce the triggers. Read the blogs on our website for tips. Hot-Cold therapy following your dancing may be of benefit. We have a blog explaining what this is and how it may help. Best wishes.

  9. Gale Slayton Harris on January 3, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    Hi, I’m planning on a visit to my doctor, but she’s on vacation this week, so in the meantime, I’m hoping to gain some insight. My bum started feeling sore on the left side about 2 weeks ago, and progressed into pretty intense pain down my leg, weakness on that side too. But everything I could find said I shouldn’t stop stretching or exercising, so I kept doing gentle yoga stretches for opening hips and cat/cow type back postures for back, also walking between 1/2 and 1 mile a day up and down my driveway. Since it’s winter in VT, that probably wasn’t the smartest thing. I felt things were not going forward, deteriorating. I also tried riding my stationary bike, but now the pain is sharp nerve jolts in my feet and toes. What should I be doing? Even the over-the-phone visit with my health clinic said to exercise, but I can’t sleep, sit, lie down, or stand for long if I do so. I feel better just resting, truthfully. I have 5 days before in-person doctor visit, and I’d like to lessen pain till then. Thank-you.

    • SPRC on January 3, 2021 at 5:58 pm

      Hello Gale,
      Staying active will ultimately be the best medicine, but in the acute phase of sciatica symptoms it is easy to over do it. You can be active and reduce the load (intensity and volume). Certainly if you feel you are getting worse you could be over doing it. It’s important to listen to your body and make sure you give feedback to your healthcare providers on the impact the exercises you are doing are having over time. They may be able to modify and provide other exercises that put less strain on you. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    • Richard baltruschat on February 13, 2021 at 11:56 pm

      I have awful pain whilst standing for 15 mins or more.i have spine problems sciata which results in very high pain in the legs when.i tried 100s sciata spine decompressing exercises for a year. Had accupunture.pain killers. Tried everything.can you help as it’s getting desperate

      • SPRC on February 15, 2021 at 7:53 pm

        Hello Richard,
        Experiencing pain after a certain length of time may be improved if you improve your strength and particularly strength endurance. Pain that comes on after a period of time may indicate strengthening may improve the situation. Investigate the potential of this intervention, as you did not mention this as something you have tried. Seeking advice from someone with the appropriate expertise in strengthening for individuals with back issues, such as a physiotherapist, is important. Best wishes.

  10. Dinorah king on December 5, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    I had an injection in 2014 it hit my sciatic nerve my right butt cheek did not walk for a year now I’ve been fine is for the 4 1/2 years up till this point all sudden. I am in excruciating pain going to help after stretching .going to a chiropractor had my veins checked to make sure it’s not a blood clot is it possible for nerve damage caused by injection be dormant and then react again if so what should I do in your opinion

    • SPRC on December 6, 2020 at 5:42 pm

      Hi Dinorah,
      It would be unusual to have a reaction to a procedure that took place 4.5 years ago. Your best option is to get this assessed by an appropriate healthcare professional and to approach it as if it is something completely separate and you need to find out what is causing the symptoms. If it is sciatica symptoms it does not have to be related to the injection in 2014. We hope you’re feeling better soon.

      • Natalya Oram on February 20, 2022 at 3:35 am

        Hello my name is Natalya, i think i have pinched my sciatic nerve in my right leg. I’ve had it for about two months now. It comes and go. I have the symptoms of it. During the morning time I’m fine until the afternoon and the pain gets worst. Sometimes can stand straight but other times I can’t. I’ve been trying to get exercise everyday. I walk at least 2km twice a day. At first it was hard but it’s gotten easier but I still struggle from time to time.

        • SPRC on February 20, 2022 at 4:43 pm

          Sounds like you are recovering nicely Natalya albeit slower than you would like. Keep up the good work and best wishes.

  11. Karen C on November 28, 2020 at 2:50 am

    I can walk around my house and even do yard work for about 20 minutes then my hip and leg feel weak and painful and I get intense pain on lateral side of calf. It goes away when I take weight off leg. I can do yoga no problem. I have recently had epidural injections at 4 levels in lumbar spine with no relief. I have not been able to go for a “real” walk in over 3 months.

    • SPRC on November 28, 2020 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Karen,
      You sound really active, which is great to hear. Sounds as though symptoms are triggered after a period of time. The longer we do an activity the more we fatigue so improving strength may help with your endurance and resilience. If you like yoga maybe you could try a beginners class of pilates. It has some overlap with yoga and helps improve strength from the inside out. If you are walking that is real walking:-) Try and build up the amount you can do incrementally. Maybe you could try going for a walk and back without getting any symptoms. From that point you could increase the time of your walking by a minute a day with the aim of building up how much you can do without bringing on your symptoms. Develop an inquisitive and experimental attitude. We all get ups and downs but that does not matter as long as the general trend is progress.Best wishes.

      • Gemma Shallaker on September 12, 2021 at 8:31 am

        Really intense pain in my calf feels like cramp constantly. pain goes down in to my ankle like a stabbing pain. I can only walk for stand for a couple of minutes.
        When in bed I can feel calf muscle cramping.

        • SPRC on September 13, 2021 at 9:42 am

          Sorry to hear that Gemma. Make sure you get an accurate diagnosis from a Doctor on what is causing your sciatica symptoms. Best wishes.

  12. June Watson on November 3, 2020 at 8:40 am

    Hi, I’ve been having this pain off and on for the last 8 years but for the last 12 days now it’s right down my leg I can only stand for 5 minutes and I need to sit down. My leg cannot take anymore pain. Anything I can do? I am worried about this now.

    • SPRC on November 3, 2020 at 4:28 pm

      Hello June,
      Sounds like you have a lot of experience with sciatica, but even though that is the case you really need to get advice directly from a Doctor to make sure it is sciatica. We know sciatica can be extremely painful, but more often than not the pain usually subsides and leaving little or no long-term affects so try not to worry. Best wishes.

    • Lakshmi on November 26, 2020 at 2:57 pm

      I am suffering from sciatic disc issue . I have too much pain just after walking up. I do have two storey house . Is it okay to climb stairs 3-4 times a day slowly ? Will it aggravate my condition.

      Thanks and I look forward for your reply.
      Lakshmi

      • SPRC on November 26, 2020 at 10:06 pm

        Hello Lakshmi,
        It is important to stay as active as you can while you are recovering. Your Doctor is always your first port of call if you have any doubts about your daily activities. If you can get up and down your stairs 3-4 times per day sounds like you are well on the road to recovery. If you find you are doing too much, i.e., pain is increasing day by day then just reduce your activity accordingly. Best wishes.

  13. Kiran on October 3, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    Dear Sir
    I am having backpain since 40 days now it has moved to hip and bum not able to sit down

    • SPRC on October 3, 2020 at 4:09 pm

      Sounds like sciatica symptoms Kiran. Seek help from a healthcare professional and read the blogs on our website. You may find some useful information that can help you. Best wishes.

  14. Stefan on September 7, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    I am having symptoms due to cycling mostly. Yet cycling is my mode of transport to work and back. I am currently feeling discomfort and slight pain down the back of my left leg/thigh. I try to stretch but this doesn’t do much. I have used Max strength Deep heat too. I am not really wanting to go in to taking lots of painkillers as they don’t go well with me, especially while i’m at work.

    • SPRC on September 7, 2020 at 9:16 pm

      Dear Stefan,
      The symptoms you describe sound like sciatica symptoms. Best thing to do is get an accurate diagnosis for your symptoms then you will be better placed to know what to do about it. Best wishes
      https://www.sciatic-relief.com/sciatica-and-cycling/

  15. Larry Huffman on August 31, 2020 at 4:34 am

    My pain starts from my lower back, it goes down my right leg all the way to my foot. It occurs when I stand but as soon as I sit down it goes away. I’m looking for some type of stretching technique to help me. Or should I consult a physician?
    P.S. My foot start tingling and numbness sets in from standing but as soon as I sit down, it goes away.

    • SPRC on August 31, 2020 at 9:16 am

      Dear Larry,
      It would be a good idea to consult your physician to check out your sciatic pain symptoms. From what you describe it sounds like nerve root irritation in the lower back that is aggravated when you are weight bearing, which is pretty common. Getting a physician to asses you would be the best thing to do, then you will have a better idea of what you need to do to get better.

      • Larry Huffman on August 31, 2020 at 11:34 pm

        Thank you for replying. I will definitely do that.

  16. Morna L. Rogers on April 26, 2020 at 9:37 am

    My pain lately have increased it go all way to my neck and side of my head. I can’t sleep I can’t seat no more than 6-8 min. can’t stand for to long my right leg at times give up on me.

    • SPRC on April 26, 2020 at 11:40 am

      Dear Morna,
      If symptoms are increasing then it is important to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional. Neck and head pain can be related to spinal issues like sciatica, but they are not necessarily linked to sciatica. Go and seek help. Someone will be able to help you. Best wishes.

      • Gareth Evans on November 13, 2020 at 8:31 pm

        Hi I recently had a slipped disc at work, the pain from that has almost gone apart from if I try to stretch, but the last five days I’ve had a terrible pain going from my bum to the back of my knee I can only stand for about 1 minute without having to lay on the floor as sitting also hurts, it’s absolutely agonising.

        • SPRC on November 14, 2020 at 8:18 am

          Hi Gareth,
          From what you describe it sounds like your initial pain was in your lower back and has now progressed to leg pain. This sounds like sciatica symptoms from lower back nerve root irritation from the nerves that exit the spine in your lower back. If the irritation is caused by compression then it is possible you will have more compression when standing. You need to get this assessed by a healthcare professional who can take a full history. Read the blogs on our website and see if there are any tips to help you as you recover. Best wishes.

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