Lower back pain (LBP) is one of the most common medical issues in the United States and the most often reported cause of disability worldwide. It’s easy to see why this is the case, since the lower spine and its supporting muscle groups are fairly exposed and susceptible to injury and stress. One particular set of supporting muscles that may affect the lower back is the group of three muscles that make up the buttocks—the gluteal muscles (“glutes”), which go from the sacrum and ilium bones of the pelvis to the top of the thigh bone (femur).
What Exactly Do Your Glutes Do?
Together, the glutes are the largest muscle group in the body. These muscles become active when you stand or make various leg movements while walking, climbing stairs, or playing sports. They play a key role in taking some of the burden of your daily movements off your lower back.
How Do Weak Glutes Cause Lower Back Pain?
When your glutes are weak, the stress these muscles normally absorb may be transferred to your lower back and hips. Poor glute muscle strength may also contribute to problems with posture, which may lead to slouching and other habits that could contribute to chronic lower back pain. Plus, if you have existing issues with herniated discs or other structural problems in your lower back area, the added stress from a lack of support from your glutes can affect discs or vertebrae that are already irritated or damaged. Depending on the severity of the damage, your spine specialist may recommend one of a variety of treatment methods, including spinal fusion surgery. Los Angeles residents with severe lower back pain should see a spinal health specialist as soon as possible for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
How Do Weak Glutes Affect the Sciatic Nerve?
Beginning in the lower spine and extending into the legs, the sciatic nerve is the longest single nerve in the body. It can also be a source of chronic lower back and radiating nerve pain. Because the glutes affect hip and knee movements, the way you walk can be affected when these muscles are weak. If you have an uneven gait, the added pressure could work its way up to where your sciatic nerve is located. The result could be inflammation, irritation, and distracting lower back pain.
What Makes Glutes Weak?
Your glutes may become weak and stressed from long hours of sitting in the same position, especially if this is what you normally do at work each day. This prolonged stress on the same gluteal and lower back muscles can set off a domino effect and irritate other parts of your lower back while also further weakening important muscle groups. However, the main reason for weak gluteal muscles is usually a lack of regular exercise.
A search for “glute exercises” will likely lead to several recommendations for various types of squats, which can certainly be effective. However, such exercises may also put too much stress on your lower back if you already have issues with recurring pain in this area. Fortunately, there are other less stressful forms of exercise—such as water-based exercises, yoga, and Pilates—that can effectively target the glutes and other core spine-supporting muscle groups.
No matter what its cause, lower back pain can often be effectively managed or eliminated when you seek the help of an experienced Los Angeles spine surgeon. The pioneering spine specialists at The Spine Institute have years of experience successfully diagnosing and treating back pain. If you’re experiencing sudden, severe, or lingering pain in your back or neck, call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.