Sciatica is the pain that radiates from your lower back down the buttocks into your legs. It can also cause numbness, tingling, and weakness in your leg or foot.

The pain can range from a mild ache to sharp, severe pain that prevents people from doing things they usually do.

In a moment, I’ll tell you the five things to avoid when you have sciatica. But first, let’s get some facts, symptoms, and risk factors out of the way.

One Harvard research shows that as many as 40% of people will get sciatica during their life, and it becomes more frequent as you age.

Another report revealed that about 20 to 30% of people with acute sciatica have persisting problems after one or two years.

Common Symptoms of Sciatica

  • Hip pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Burning or tingling down your leg
  • Pain in your butt or leg that worsens when you sit
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving your leg or foot
  • A shooting pain down your leg that makes it difficult to stand up

Risk Factors of Sciatica

  • Age: The chances of developing sciatica[1] increases as we age. According to WebMD, most people who get sciatica are between 30 and 50 years old.
  • Weight: Being overweight can put pressure on your spine, which increases the risk of getting a herniated disk.
  • Diabetes.
  • Your daily activities or job: People who engage in lots of heavy lifting or prolonged sitting daily have a greater chance of damaging their disks.

Now, let’s move on.

5 Things To Avoid If You Have Sciatica

1. Don’t Sit For Longer Than 20 to 30 Minutes

If you have sciatica, it’s tempting to want to always relax because many people believe that would help them. But you should avoid sitting for longer than 20 minutes.

If your job requires long sitting hours, take a walk around after every 20 to 30 minutes. And avoiding bending forward when you return to your seat.

2. Don’t Relegate Yourself To Your Bed

Contrary to what many people believe, staying in bed for long hours doesn’t help sciatica. I mean, staying in bed feels like the right thing when it seems like you can’t do anything else, right?

But it’s advisable to get out of bed when you’ve been on bed rest for almost 48 hours because it is important to keep moving.

Bed rest for long hours can result in muscle spasms, stiffness, and loss of mobility. Staying active, on the other hand, will help you prevent stiff joints and improve your mobility.

3. Stay Away From Heavy Objects

As a sciatica patient, you should stay away from lifting heavy object especially if it’s over 15 pounds in weight. And if you must lift any object, keep it close to your body.

Practice safe-lifting. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) put together a well-detailed explanation of safe-lifting tips here.

4. Reduce Long-Distance Car Trips If You Can

Frequent long-distance car trips may do your sciatica more harm than good. If you must go for a long ride, as much as possible, make sure you take frequent breaks by stopping and walking around to prevent sciatica pain from flaring up.

The reason for this is simple. Sitting for a long period puts your spine under much pressure, so it is important to stand up and walk around a little.

5. Avoid Inflammation Causing Foods

It is advisable to avoid inflammation-causing foods, such as sugars, trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and hydrogenated oils. Instead, you should follow a diet that contains more anti-inflammatory foods.

A diet rich in whole grains, natural foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fatty fish, soluble & insoluble fiber, and so on can help in reducing inflammation. This type of diet will help you reduce the occurrence of sciatica in the long term.

NOTE: Check with your physician before making extensive dietary changes.


Sciatica can stop you from enjoying your daily activities or living the life you deserve if you are not paying attention to it.

I have touched on five things to avoid if you have sciatica[2] in this article. Of course, there are more, but these five should do for a start.

You may find relief from sciatica by living a more active lifestyle, avoiding bad diets, smoking, and taking over-the-counter medications.

However, if you notice your pain is getting more severe, you should talk to your doctor.