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Dull Ache In Your Butt Might Be Piriformis Syndrome

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Pain in Buttocks? Might Be Piriformis Syndrome Via Pexels

Have you had pain in your buttocks for some time? There could be a reason. You may have piriformis syndrome. The piriformis muscle lies deep in the gluteus maximus. It is often a neglected stretching area in your body, which can cause buttocks pain if ignored. Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which this tight muscle irritates the sciatic nerve causing pain (or a dull ache) in the buttocks and referring pain along the sciatic nerve.

This pain goes down the back of the thigh and/or into the lower back. Deep pain is often made worse by sitting, climbing or squatting.

Piriformis syndrome is often found in runners or athletes in sports that require running, change of direction and weight-bearing activities. Exercising on hard or uneven surfaces also cause problems.

Biomechanical problems such as poor running mechanics, tight muscles in the lower back, hips and buttocks and running with the toes pointed out also cause piriformis problems.

The glutes don't fire properly when the hip flexors (psoas, iliacus, tensor fascia latae, etc.) are overactive or tight. This can happen due to poor flexibility or prolonged sitting. When the hip flexors don't work properly, its antagonist (mainly the gluteus maximus) becomes weak.

This is known as reciprocal inhibition (when muscles on one side of a joint become tight or overactive, it shuts down the muscles on the other side of the joint). When a prime mover (such as the gluteus maximus) becomes weak, other muscles (synergists) take over the function that the prime mover should be doing.

In this case, the synergists would be the hamstrings. Some injuries that occur because of inactive glutes are piriformis syndrome, knee ACL tears and low back injuries.

Treatment of piriformis syndrome is treated like any other soft tissue injury:

1. begin with the R.I.C.E.R. principle the first 24-72 hours (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral to Doctor)

2. rest and recovery

3. strengthen and condition the muscles of the hips, buttocks and lower back

And, of course, a proper warm-up and stretching routine is always critical.

Stretch the piriformis muscle this way:

1. Lie back and cross legs with the involved leg on top

2. Gently pull opposite knee towards chest until a stretch is felt in the deep buttock area

3. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 1-2 times as needed

4. Keep the lower back straight in a neutral position

Take care of that dull ache!

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES, CPT is a Certified Personal Trainer and former NCAA Division I athlete. Mark is the owner of My Fitness Hut, Her Fitness Hut and Sports Fitness Hut. Mark’s Fat Blaster Athletic Training System has been proven to give his clients the fit, sculpted and athletic-type bodies they want. Visit Mark’s main site:

Your Fitness University http://yourfitnessuniversity.com

Add a Comment5 Comments

I did some leg stretches (backwards) a few days ago and then started having the ache in my butt a couple days after. I do sit an awful lot the reason I wanted to stretch a bit. So I stretched the leg back a couple of times for each leg. At 73 and sedentary i worry about things getting hard to move but every time I do something simple I hurt myself. Anyway, I'm curious as to why it hurts worse lying down. I have to keep my hip and knee straight for it to ease up. It hurts sitting on that side too, but not like lying down. I'm taking anti-inflammatory s and a pain pill in order to sleep. How long does it take to get better?

May 26, 2017 - 9:37pm
EmpowHER Guest

I have a deep, aching pain in my right buttock. I felt pain near the end of my run, and ever since then, I cannot get rid of it. I have applied ice for 3 days now, but to no avail. I have a physical job that demands I walk, bend,twist and lift all day long. I'm worried about stretching because I do not want to aggravate this injury further. I have not run for three or four days now, and the pain is about the same. Should I perform some stretches or no? How long will this pain and discomfort continue before I turn a corner? THank you.

October 26, 2016 - 3:15pm

Some things you can try:

1.Cut your workouts down to 3 days a week for 45 minutes or less. Walk for 30 minutes on non-workout days. You could be over-training which causes many injuries and illnesses. You can reach fat loss and weight loss goals working out hard in as little as 1.5 to 2 hours total a week.

2. Do daily foam roll massage on your glutes and hamstrings (and other muscle areas as well).

3. Try treatment with ice pad and heat pad, each about 15-20 minutes a day.

4. Go to a massage therapist for deep tissue massage.

5. Be sure to do static stretches after your workouts to bring your muscles back to normal length.

6. Take a week off from working out. You could stay active with walking and other non-workout activities. Everyone should take at least one week off from workouts every 12 weeks or so. Always listen to your body. It will tell you when you need a break.

Finally, you may need the help of a physical therapist or sports injury doctor, if none of these things work for you.

Let me know how it goes for you.

September 8, 2014 - 9:40am
EmpowHER Guest

I can't drive on a trip because my butt hurts after about 50 miles. I get so I can't sit still, I go Into a perpetual motion changing positions in my seat constantly. Lately it has gone into my shoulders and still later into my hands.
I do stretching and workouts in the gym 5 days a week for one and a half hours. It seems to help limber me up but I can't get completely rid of it.

September 6, 2014 - 2:36pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I had something similar. I found it was my driving position, where my leg was slightly raised off the seat with my foot on the accelerator. Try driving with your butt pushed back to the base of the seat making sure your hamstring is resting on the seat.

December 31, 2014 - 11:06am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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