Lower back pain (LBP) is the most common type of spine-related pain. It’s also typically more complex than you may realize because of all of the ways movement can affect this area. While LBP can contribute to discomfort felt elsewhere, as is often the case when the sciatic nerve is irritated, there are also things that could be going on in other locations that make lower back pain more noticeable. One such area is the buttocks. The trusted Beverly Hills spine surgeons from The Spine Institute explain why LBP is connected to the buttocks and what you can do about it.
There’s research suggesting chronic LBP is associated with weakened core muscles that provide some type of direct or indirect spine support, including the muscles collectively referred to as the “glutes.” The glutes are the three muscles that make up the buttocks: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. These powerful posterior muscles are responsible for helping you maintain your posture. They also play a role in movements such as sitting and standing. Together, these three individual muscles form the largest muscle group in your body. Weak glutes may contribute to lower back pain related to:
• Poor posture habits such as slouching • Knee pain that can affect gait (walking patterns) • Tightness in the hips that can stress lower back muscles
Glutes that are overworked can also be a source of pain felt in or around the lower back. If you overdo it with certain sports or exercise routines, inflammation affecting any of the muscles in your buttocks area could affect range of motion in the pelvic area, hips, and the sacrum, a triangular bone in your lower back between the hip bones.
Lower back pain isn’t only affected by the muscles in the buttocks. However, a core strengthening routine that includes the glutes can enhance posture and take some direct pressure off the lower spine. Fortunately, there are many simple exercises you can do to sufficiently boost the strength and flexibility of your glutes. Some of these exercises include:
• Leg raises • Side leg lifts • Standing lunges • Single leg or body-weight squats • Donkey kicks or hip hikes • Glute bridges
All it takes is about 10-15 minutes of exercises like these on a regular basis to start seeing noticeable results. If you have difficulty with some glute/hip exercises because of existing issues with LBP, modified versions can produce similar results. There are also water workouts that can target the same muscles in a gentler way.
The right approach to core strengthening that includes the glutes can address multiple possible sources of LBP. For instance, a muscle located deep within the buttocks region called the piriformis muscle can be another source of lower back and radiating nerve pain. In addition to taking pressure off your lumbar spine, strengthening your glutes and nearby hamstring muscles may also stretch the piriformis muscle enough to ease irritation and relieve discomfort around the lower back area.
If you’re experiencing chronic back or neck pain and think you might need surgery, reach out to The Spine Institute today. One of our expert surgeons can help you determine if you need a fusion procedure or a Mobi-C artificial cervical disc. Beverly Hills patients can call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.