You’re not using your butt enough.
Why this matters:
One common issue with sciatica and low back pain is weak glute muscles. Here’s a quick anatomy lesson, there are three gluteal muscles. The maximus abducts (kicks out) and extends the hip. The medius abducts and stabilizes the hip. The minimus (smallest muscle) abducts and stabilizes the hip as well.
These muscles are important in leg function as they play a huge role in how we walk and sit. Ideally with walking, we want to have a slight bit of rotation in our shoulders and our pelvis (think belly button points towards the front foot). The glute muscles stabilize the pelvis so that there isn’t too much sway (think like hip checking someone). Insufficient strength in this motion results in too much motion side to side.
The glute muscles are also responsible for kicking the leg straight back (extension) as if we are pushing off of the back foot. If we are weak in hip extension, the low back muscles must activate in order to make up for the loss of motion.
Too much motion at the back will result in pain and prevent healing.
This simple hip abduction exercise is a good way to assess your hip abduction strength. If you feel your butt doing the work, that’s great. If you feel your front pocket muscles moving, it’s either because your leg is too far forward, or you’re truly weak in that area. I usually recommend 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. The glute muscles love to be worked.
This exercise is helpful, ONLY if you feel pain relief afterward, especially with walking. If it doesn’t work, then you have permission to move onto something else.