If you work in an office, you likely remain seated for up to eight hours a day, sometimes more. That constant pressure on your back and tailbone that comes from sitting for long periods of time can cause pain to radiate throughout your lower body, causing damage over a long period of time and leading to serious lower back and butt pain.
However, you don’t have to live with this pain. There are ways to relieve it. If you’re experiencing buttocks pain from prolonged sitting, you should try the following options for relief.
What Causes Buttocks Pain?
First, we need to discuss why this pain occurs before we understand how to make it go away. Poor posture causes muscle pain, which is the most common reason that people experience buttocks pain from sitting. However, poor posture can also cause different issues when not treated early, including:
- Sciatica: The sciatic nerve can be damaged when it’s compressed or obstructed. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower spine to the knees, causing pain or numbness throughout the lower half of the body. Sciatica symptoms worsen and cause more pain when patients sit for an extended period of time. Sciatica will usually go away within 4-6 weeks, but it may occasionally take longer.
- Piriformis Syndrome: The piriformis muscle is in the buttocks. It extends outwards from the base of the spine to the top of the thigh. When the muscle is irritated or compresses on the sciatic nerve, piriformis syndrome occurs, causing pain in the buttocks, down the back of the legs, and thighs. You can also experience this kind of pain if you're dealing with tight piriformis muscles. This medical condition is particularly common for athletes and runners.
- Coccydynia: When the tailbone (also known as the coccyx) is injured or strained, it’s called coccydynia. Coccydynia can be caused by poor posture or prolonged strain on the coccyx, both of which can occur because of an uncomfortable or unsupportive office chair.
- Bruising: Bruising of the buttocks can occur when a chair is especially hard and uncomfortable. If you sit on a hard, uncomfortable surface for too long without any support, you can cause blood vessels to break and burst under the skin, causing bruising.
Arthritis: If you're already dealing with arthritis in other parts of your body, it could easily be affecting your buttocks.
These conditions, and more, are also worsened by sitting in uncomfortable and unsupportive chairs.
1. Avoid Prolonged Sitting When Possible
The best way to prevent buttocks pain or provide relief to existing pain is to cut down the amount of time you sit down every day. If you work in an office, this may be hard to do. You can’t exactly stop sitting down. In these cases, you might want to consider switching to a standing desk.
Standing desks are great because they allow you to choose between sitting and standing. If you start to feel like your back or butt is hurting, you can simply switch to a standing position to give yourself a break from sitting.
Of course, standing desks can be expensive, and not all workplaces allow them, so this isn’t a viable option for most people.
2. Stay Active Throughout the Day
Experts suggest getting up and remaining active throughout your workday is a great way to cut down your risk of chronic pain associated with sitting down for too long. You should get up, walk around, stretch, and generally move frequently throughout the day.
Every half hour to every hour, stand up from your desk and stretch out your body. Take a few minutes to walk around the office. Use this opportunity to check in with people on your team or grab a glass of water.
If you work at home, stand up, stretch, and walk around your house or apartment for a few minutes before getting back to work. Take a longer break in the middle of the day and take a walk outside if you can.
3. Apply Hot and Cold Packs
Using hot and cold packs to relieve pain is a tradition that’s as old as time. To use the hot and cold method, you need to have both a heating pack and a cold pack. Heating packs that plug into the wall are a great idea, as they heat up quickly, and you don’t have to worry about microwaving them.
Heat opens up your blood vessels, helping to assist in the healing process and alleviating some of your pain. Heat also increases blood flow, which can help with stiff joints. You should use heat for 15-20 minutes before switching to a cold pack.
Ice and cold packs help to relieve swelling, pain, and inflammation. You should use an ice pack or other icing method for about 10-15 minutes. You should ice the sore area about three times a day. You should leave a few hours in between icing and heating your skin, don’t switch back and forth rapidly.
4. Try Over-The-Counter Medications
Over-the-counter medications like Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen can help with pain associated with sore buttocks, thighs, and hips. You can also take something to tone down the inflammation at the same time.
If you can’t take over-the-counter medications, there are plenty of natural methods for relieving inflammation, such as spices, herbs, and essential oils. Installing an essential oil diffuser in your office is a great way to incorporate anti-inflammatory scents into your daily routine.
5. Yoga and Stretching Techniques
There are so many different stretching techniques you can try to relieve the pain you’re experiencing in your lower body by working to combat muscle tightness. Exercises such as yoga and stretching will help to strengthen the muscles in your buttocks as well as help to relieve any pain you’re experiencing. To relieve pain, try the following stretches:
- Knee to chest
- Piriformis stretch - with your back on the floor and your knees bent, cross one leg over the other so that one ankle is on top of the opposite knee, and then pull your knees towards you.
- Hamstring stretch
- Bird dog stretch
- Sitting rotation stretch
There are also many different yoga routines and videos you can follow, including some specifically made to help relieve pain associated with sitting at a desk. If your pain is serious and you want to take these stretches to the next level, you could also speak to your doctor about whether physical therapy is right for you.
6. Use a Seat Cushion
The best way to make your desk more comfortable is to add a seat cushion. It can be costly to upgrade your chair to something ergonomic, but seat cushions are surprisingly affordable.
You can choose from flat cushions, cushions with coccyx cutouts, and wedge cushions to help with your buttocks pain. They will help reduce the pressure you’re feeling, preventing you from developing any new pain while providing relief to your current pain.
Wedge cushions lift your hips to provide relief from tense hips, while coccyx cushions relieve the pressure that’s put on your coccyx. A standard cushion is an excellent option if you’re looking to relieve overall buttocks tension and pain.
Cushions made of memory foam and gel infusions will provide support that’s contoured to your body while also keeping you cool throughout the day.
You Deserve Relief From Buttocks Pain
You shouldn’t have to sit in an uncomfortable office chair for eight+ hours every day. You deserve to experience relief from your discomfort and pain, and luckily, surgery is rarely needed for this kind of pain. Try these options to relieve the pain you already have, and invest in a seat cushion to prevent future pain from ruining your workday. And of course, if you suspect something more serious is wrong, speak to your healthcare provider, as this is not meant to be a substitute for medical care.
For extra comfort, opt for a lumbar back support cushion or footrest cushion as well. Cushions will upgrade your boring, uncomfortable office chair into something comfortable and ergonomic.