Truck drivers and desk jockeys will often experience the same issues from sitting for extended periods. Pain in one side of the buttocks, one thigh, or one calf muscle can manifest itself in a dull constant ache or a full-blown cramp that requires jumping up and moving around to release the muscle.
This discomfort is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerves that run from the the spine down to both feet and can become debilitating if the problem is allowed to continue unabated and untreated.
Why Would the Sciatic Nerves Be Affected By Sitting Too Much?
The sciatic nerves are connected to the spinal nerves at the base, or lowest point, of the spine. This weight of the upper body presses down on this area of the lower back when in a seated position, creating enormous pressure at the single junction of spinal and sciatic nerve clusters.
The problem is exacerbated when an individual is overweight with weak abdominal muscles, because the spine is supported by the lower abdominal muscles, and added weight creates a greater burden on the lower spine.
Poor posture can also contribute to sciatic pain. Slouching or leaning while sitting for long periods can actually cause the lower spinal vertebra to be pushed out of alignment. Each vertebra of the spine must be aligned with all of the other vertebrae to allow for proper movement and to protect the spinal nerves that run along the spinal column.
When a single vertebra is out of alignment, the spinal fluid in which the nerves are encased may be disturbed, irritating the nerves, and causing pain and disruption of the brain's impulses that travel along the nerves.
If the misalignment occurs at the L5 vertebrae at the base of the spine, the sciatic nerve may be irritated. Although it seems strange, trauma to the sciatic nerve in the area of the lower spine will often cause no pain in that area, but instead manifest itself at any point in the lower body, usually only on one side of the body.
How Can Lower Body Pain be Prevented?
Although it sounds counterintuitive, you must get in shape for sitting if you must sit for extended periods for your job. For example:
- Create an hourly schedule of rising from your chair to walk around and relieve pressure on your lower back.
- Lose excess weight and practice activities such as Pilates to strengthen your abdominal core.
- Analyze your posture when sitting, and adapt your work area and yourself to improve it if necessary.
How Can The Pain be Treated?
Chiropractic care is effective in realigning vertebra in the lower spine that may be causing issues with sciatic pain. A chiropractor can also stretch muscles that may be keeping the spine from maintaining its proper alignment, as well as suggest activities that you can do on your own to support your spine.
While you are not likely to participate in any competitive sitting competitions, keeping yourself in shape for unavoidable extended sitting at work can make at least one aspect of your job less of a pain in the butt.