Muscle cramps can stop you in your tracks. These sudden, involuntary muscle contractions can make it temporarily impossible to use the affected muscle and can happen at any time. One of the largest muscles in your body, your glutes are very active during many activities. When your glutes cramp, take steps to treat and prevent further issues.
Gluteus Maximus Anatomy
Your gluteus maximus originates along the posterior gluteal line, sacrum, coccyx and the sacrotuberous ligament. It crosses the hip joint and inserts on the femur and into the iliotibial tract, or IT band. Your glute max works to extend the hip and trunk as well as laterally rotate the femur. It is active during many activities, such as walking and running, often as a stabilizer of the pelvis. It is also active during resistance training exercises, such as squats and lunges.
Signs of Muscle Cramp
Muscle cramps can be sudden or severe. You may feel a gradual tightening of your glutes during exercise or right after you complete exercise. This type of slow cramping can usually be relieved quickly by shifting position. Cramps can also be sudden and severe. This type of cramping often has no sign that it is coming and can be severely painful. Cramping can also be accompanied by a hard lump of muscle tissue in your glutes that you can feel or is even visible under the skin.
Causes of Glute Cramps
Muscle cramps can be caused by intense physical training. Sometimes when you work your glutes, they become overactive and begin to spasm, or cramp, involuntarily. Cramping can also be caused by decreased blood supply or nerve compression. Decreased blood supply is usually due to narrowing of the arteries to the affected muscle, while nerve compression occurs in the spine but is felt in the affected muscle. It is possible that your glute cramps are due to depleted nutrients. Decreased amounts of potassium, magnesium and calcium can lead to cramping.
Treating Glute Cramps
You can take a few steps to avoid and treat your cramping glutes. Stay hydrated by drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of water each day. Increase your water intake if you are sweating a lot or exercising. Eat a balanced diet and include a sports drink during heavy workouts to replace depleted nutrients. Warm up properly before workouts and stretch after you are done. If your glute cramps are frequent and you are following all instructions, see a doctor as there may be another cause of your muscle cramps.
- "Essentials of Strength and Conditioning"; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2008
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Muscle Cramps