Taking care of your posture and technique when lifting objects will greatly reduce the likelihood of injury; you bend your knees, keep your back straight and use your leg muscles to lift the weight rather than relying on your back. When bending forward, you also need to bend your knees to take the strain off your back. Instead of twisting your torso to reach something or perform a task, turn your whole body to face what you are doing; twisting is a classic cause of pinched nerves.
Moving is usually the last thing people dogged by sciatica want to do, but it's important to be physically active. "Lying in bed makes it more likely that the pain will last longer," says Ruppert. "Exercise increases blood flow to the disk and the nerve, helping to get rid of the chemicals causing the inflammation." Take 15- to 20-minute walks. If that hurts too much, give swimming or water aerobics a try; there's not as much pressure on the back when you're in the water, says Ruppert. It may also be worth seeing a physical therapist, who can prescribe stretching exercises to restore flexibility to the back or moves that strengthen core muscles, helping to stabilize the spine and reduce the likelihood of a similar injury.