How Your Walking Posture Affects Your Sciatic Nerve

Occasionally I share walking expert Jonathan FitzGordon’s back-related blog posts on our Spine-health Facebook page. I asked him to elaborate on how walking can affect sciatica pain.

Sciatica pain in footAn impingement of the sciatic nerve can cause pain to radiate into the foot.
Watch our Sciatic Nerve Anatomy Video

Jonathan’s thoughts on sciatica and walking

Sciatic nerve pathway

Walking is something that most people take for granted. In fact, it would never occur to the average person that they might not be walking correctly.

Sciatica occurs because something—bone, disc or muscle—is impinging the sciatic nerve. If we learn to walk and stand correctly, we align our bones in a more effective way, creating a much better pathway for the flow of the sciatic nerve.

See Good Posture Helps Reduce Back Pain

Our walking and standing posture determines the route of the sciatic nerve. (Tweet this now to share this blog). Poor walking patterns basically put up roadblocks along the path by allowing for a consistent misalignment of the skeleton and misuse of muscles.

See Exercise Walking for Better Back Health

Watch Sciatica Animated Video

If the sciatic nerve touches any of these roadblocks, such as slipped or herniated discs, or a pifiromis muscle in spasm, sciatic pain is the likely result.

See Symptoms and Diagnosis of Piriformis Syndrome

Article continues below

Nerve and bone network

Our bones hold us up while our muscles move us. Nerves send the messages that make the muscles move the bones.

For this to go well the body has to be properly aligned with the legs under the pelvis and the spine lined up directly above the pelvis. When this happens—and, to be honest, it rarely does—the nerves can flow freely through the whole body.

Walking correctly is essentially the act of falling forward and catching yourself over and over all day long. As the body is propelled through space, the brain will tell the back leg to step forward to prevent us from face planting. This is how it should go.

But, for whatever reason, most people tend to lean backward slightly with legs that move forward before the trunk so that the rest of the body has to be pulled along to catch up.

Walking this way is a recipe for sciatic trouble.

See Techniques for Effective Exercise Walking

If the legs move forward first, the pelvis is pulled into a tucked position which shortens or compresses the piriformis muscle and flattens the lumbar spine. Both of these factors increase the likelihood of the sciatic nerve being impinged by muscle, bone or disc.

Many thanks to Jonathan FitzGordon for sharing his walking expertise with us.

Are you walking correctly? In our next post, we’ll share with you some of Jonathan’s pointers to correct your walking posture.

Learn more:

Techniques for Effective Exercise Walking

Good Posture Helps Reduce Back Pain

Post written by