Performing stretching and strengthening exercises may help treat pain in your gluteus maximus muscle -- the largest of the three gluteal muscles in your buttocks -- regardless of the cause of the pain, which may include conditions such as fibromyalgia or sciatica, or injuries such as a deep bruise or muscle strain. Consult with your doctor, however, before starting a rehabilitation program to determine the appropriate course of action for your particular circumstances.
The gluteus maximus facilitates hip-extension ranges of motion, along with the hamstrings, so flexing your hip joint by performing the knee-to-chest exercise lengthens and stretches the muscle, potentially relieving any pain you may feel. There are two variations of the stretch. Either lie on your back or stand with your back against a wall, and pull the knee of your affected leg toward your chest as far as possible. Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, then repeat with your opposite leg to promote muscular balance.
Seated Buttocks Stretch
The gluteus maximus also helps the other gluteal muscles abduct your hip joint -- moving your upper leg sideways, away from the center of your body. The seated buttocks stretch targets the gluteus maximus by placing your injured hip in a position of maximal adduction, the opposite range of motion. Sit upright with your legs extended on the floor in front of your torso, and then bend the knee of your injured leg and cross your foot over your opposite leg. Hug the lower leg and pull it closer to your body to initiate the stretch. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise with your uninjured leg.
The glute bridge is an isometric-strengthening exercise, requiring the gluteus maximus to contract continually for a specific period of time to hold your hips in an extended position. This type of exercise is especially appropriate if moving through hip extension and flexion ranges of motion causes you pain. To perform the glute bridge exercise, lie on your back with your knees flexed and feet on the floor at hip width. Squeeze your buttocks and extend your hips into the air, creating a straight line between your torso and upper legs. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds, then relax. You can add a stretching element to the exercise by drawing one knee at a time toward your chest while your hips are elevated.
This yoga pose will stretch your piriformis muscle and reduce pain in your gluteus maximus by externally rotating your femur. Sit on the floor and bend both knees as if you were going to sit cross-legged. Instead of crossing your feet, stack your left lower leg on top of your right lower leg. Hold this position for up to one minute and then switch sides.
- Essentials of Athletic Injury Management; William E. Prentice
- The Stretching Institute: Buttocks Stretch Videos
- American Council on Exercise: Glute Bridge Single-Leg Progression
- ExRx.net: Barbell Sumo Deadlift
- Yoga Journal: Easing Pain in the Piriformis Muscle