Ischial bursitis is a literal example of a "pain in the butt." Bursa are small sacs of fluid that help cushion bony areas of your body. The ischial bursa on either side of your buttocks pad your ischial tuberosities — the bones you are, most likely, sitting on right now.
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Irritation of these sacs can lead to a painful condition called ischial bursitis, or sometimes ischialgluteal bursitis. Inflammation of these structures can be caused by prolonged sitting on a hard surface or by direct injury to the area. Your hamstring muscles also attach to this bone; injury to their tendons can also cause bursitis, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Ischial bursitis exercises can help.
Read more: 3 Simple Stretches to Help Relieve Hip Pain
Ischial Bursitis Treatment
Ischial bursitis exercises typically do not include strengthening — at least not until your symptoms have subsided. These bursa sit between your hamstring tendons and the ischial bone. Performing strengthening exercises increases compression on your already-irritated structures. However, you can still perform cardio exercises or strengthening exercises for your upper extremities while you are healing.
Ischial bursitis treatment is typically focused on reducing pain. Apply ice to the affected area for 15 minutes at a time, several times per day, for the first 48 hours after your symptoms begin. Then, switch to moist heat, as recommended by the Mayo Clinic. Avoid positions that place direct pressure on your bursa as much as possible. Consider using a donut cushion to unload your ischium when you are required to sit.
Exercises for Ischial Bursitis Pain
Ischial tuberosity pain exercises initially begin with gentle hip stretches. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat for sets of three. Do not stretch to the point of pain — this can increase pressure on your bursa, causing further inflammation.
Move #1: Knee to Chest
- Lie on your back.
- Keeping the opposite leg straight, bend your knee on your painful side.
- Using your hands, gently pull your knee in closer to your chest, until you feel a stretch along your buttock.
If you have back pain, bend the opposite knee during this exercise.
Move #2: Supine Hamstring Stretch
- Lie on your back.
- Bend your knee on the unaffected leg and rest your foot on the floor.
- Bend your hip on the injured side until your knee is pointed toward the ceiling.
- Slowly straighten your knee until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh.
Read more: Foods to Avoid for Bursitis & Tendinitis
Move #3: Seated Hamstring Stretch
- Sit with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Bend your knee on the unaffected leg and place the sole of your foot against the opposite inner thigh.
- Point your toes up toward the ceiling.
- Slowly hinge forward at the hips, leaning toward your toes.
- Stop when you feel a strong pull along the back of your thigh.
Move #4: Piriformis Stretch
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Cross the ankle of your injured leg over the opposite knee.
- Slowly rotate at the waist, toward the side with the bent knee.
- Look over your shoulder.
- Increase the stretch by placing your elbow on your thigh to twist further.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.