Many people come to me with low back pain and hip or sciatica issues and there seems to be something they all share, weak gluteal muscles. We have become a population of “sitters” when we were born for moving. If you stand in one place or sit for the majority of your day, you could have weak glute muscles that are contributing to your low back and hip pain.
When we sit for long periods of time the Psoas muscles shorten and will pull on the low back when moving to a standing position. Sitting stretches the glute muscles and can weaken them. If you stand for long periods and have weak glute muscles, it causes the Psoas (hip flexors) to work to stabilize the spine and puts strain the low back. Not only will the back and hips have problems, but without strong glutes to help align the leg bones, pain and discomfort in the hamstrings, calves and feet can occur too.
Several clients have said that they are fine until after a walk and when they get home, the low back or hips start to bother them. This is a strong indicator that glutes are weak and need strengthening.
How do you know if you have weak glutes? Without going into an anatomy lesson, let me give you a simple test you can do to see if you have weak glutes:
Lay on your stomach on the floor and rest your chin on your folded arms. Keeping your legs straight behind you and resting on the floor. Lift one leg, keeping it straight and if you feel the knee bend or your low back (lumbar area) dip, it means other muscles are being recruited to assist the glutes and they are weak.
Ok, now that you know you need some work, (most of us do!) how do you gain glutes of steel? There are numerous exercises to improve glute strength; squats, lunges, exercise machines, etc., but safety is a big consideration and you have to be especially careful if you have any knee problems. I found a great video on some easy exercises you can do at home. I like these because they are simple and won’t cause any stress on the knees. Click here to watch this 5 minute video.
Some other things to pay attention to:
If you get a chance, watch others walking. Can you tell those that have back pain, knee pain or are not using their glutes and leg muscles in synch? As a massage therapist, I have found you can tell a lot about a person just by their walk.
Strengthening your glutes and paying attention to how you walk and use your body can assist with alleviating back pain. In the case of glutes, a little work can make all the difference in the world!