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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 waling; 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

21 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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/

  7. 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.

  8. 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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