Your buttocks, or gluteal muscles, may be painful because of overuse, muscle strain or sciatic issues. The piriformis muscle, located deep within the gluteal region, is a common culprit of buttock pain, explains Dr. Lori Boyajian-O'Neill in the November 2008 issue of “The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.” Exercises to stretch and release the gluteal muscles, including the piriformis, may help relieve your buttock pain when performed several times a day. However, check with your health care provider if your buttock pain persists or is not relieved by stretching exercises.
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Overhead Leg Extension
Overhead leg extensions stretch your gluteals across a lateral, or side-to-side, range of motion. Practice the exercise using a yoga strap, necktie or exercise band to allow your body to maximally relax into the stretch. Lie on your back and hug your right knee into your chest. Loop the strap around the ball of your foot and gradually straighten your leg out in front of you, holding the ends of the strap in your hand. Slowly pull on the strap to extend your leg overhead as far as is comfortable. If you reach a pain point, pause until your muscles relax. Slowly lower your leg to your left side, and then back over to your right side, holding each position for several moments. Switch the strap to your other foot and repeat the exercise with your left leg.
Reverse pigeon offers a moderately intense gluteal stretch that targets the piriformis. Begin on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee and, threading your right arm between your thighs, grasp your left shin with both hands. Slowly pull your left leg in toward your chest as your foot comes off the floor, feeling the stretch through your right gluteal muscles. If this feels too intense at first, grasp your left thigh instead of your shin to modify the stretch. Hold the stretch for several moments and then repeat on your other side.
Fire log is a hip and buttock stretch that focuses intensely on the piriformis muscle. Sit on a yoga or exercise mat with your right shin parallel to the top edge of the mat. Position your left leg so your left shin lies along the top of your right shin, also parallel to the top edge of the mat. Reach your arms out to your sides and then overhead as you lengthen through your back, and fold forward from your hips. Bring your arms as close to the floor as possible without rounding your back. If you reach a point where it feels too intense, back off just slightly and relax into the stretch before continuing. After holding the pose for several moments, repeat the stretch with your right shin on top of your left.
Cow Face Pose
Externally rotating your femur in Cow Face pose will stretch your piriformis and help ease the pain in your buttock. Sit on a yoga mat and bend your right knee. Lower the outside of your right leg onto the mat and bring your right foot close to your left buttock. Lift your left leg, bend the knee and lay the outside of your left knee atop of the inside of your right knee. Let your right foot lie on the floor as close as possible to your right buttock. Sit with a straight back in this pose for up to one minute and then switch sides.