Contrary to the idea that spinal injuries are caused by a combination of compression, bending, tension and shear forces, the 3D animated model suggests many injuries are the result of quick twists of the vertebrae, making the joints between them rotate.
I am way more aware of this phenomenon since my surgery, and have to be a lot more careful. I can obviously detect when I am lifting too much and stop. Realizing you may be applying too much torque to your back is really hard to do. Usually you find out when you are writhing on the ground in pain.
I have found it helpful to do the stretching exercises my physical therapist recommends. Do some core strengthening exercises, such as the ones highlighted at The Mayo Clinic. By keeping your core strong, your back won't put itself in a position to cause that sciatica pain you are having.