If you have sore glutes after a workout, you know they are literally a pain in the butt. Oftentimes, this soreness is a normal side effect of an intense workout. Other times, glute pain after a workout can indicate injury.
The particular location of the pain may tell you something about its cause, as does whether the pain is sharp, dull or aching. (If the pain is severe, it's a good idea to see a doctor.)
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Pain in the rear shouldn't force you to curtail your activities. So, if you've been wondering "why does my butt hurt after working out?" take a look at some possible causes of and remedies for butt pain after exercise.
Causes of Butt Pain After Exercise
1. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
If your butt hurts after a workout, it may be the result of delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.
Although the exact cause of DOMS is unknown, it's thought to be caused by microscopic muscle tears and your body's natural inflammatory response to exercising, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). DOMS occurs when you perform a new workout or push your body harder than it's accustomed to.
DOMS begins to develop about 12 to 24 hours after exercise, per the ACSM, with the greatest discomfort felt 24 to 72 hours afterward. Your muscles will feel tight, ache and be painful if touched. The tightness makes stretching and contraction of your glutes uncomfortable.
If caused by DOMS, muscle soreness in your butt will go away on its own within a week.
2. Piriformis Syndrome
Piriformis syndrome causes numbness or pain in your butt, hip or upper leg, according to the Cleveland Clinic. So, if your glutes are sore after a workout, this is another potential reason.
This condition affects your piriformis muscle, which extends from your sacrum (a bone at the base of your spine) to your outer hip bone, and may occur when this muscle presses on your sciatic nerve (which starts in your lower back and runs down the back of each leg).
Causes of piriformis syndrome include injury, swelling, muscle spasms or scar tissue in the piriformis, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Additionally, exercises that involve a lot of repetitive lower-body motion, such as running, rowing or cycling, may irritate your piriformis muscle, triggering a chronic spasm that can be painful.
3. Degenerative Disc Disease
The lower part of the spine is cushioned by a series of vertebrae that serve as shock absorbers for the spinal cord, per the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). Between these vertebrae are firm, but squishy, discs that serve as cushions between the vertebrae.
When these discs become damaged due to age, injury and wear and tear, they can cause pain in your lower back, butt and/or legs, according to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Exercise can aggravate the position of the disc, causing it to rub against the nerve roots.
Sciatica is often caused by pressure on or injury to your sciatic nerve, according to Penn Medicine. A common injury is a herniated disc in your lower back, per the AANS.
Lifting weights incorrectly, like performing squats without utilizing proper technique, can increase your risk of a herniated disc. Over time, you'll feel pain in your buttocks region and might have numbness or weakness in your legs, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Sciatica pain can result in an irritating burning sensation that starts in your lower back and radiates down your buttocks toward your knee, per the Mayo Clinic. Numbness may also be present. Sciatica pain can be mild or severe. If your soreness results from an injury, you're likely to experience a sharp pain in your butt during your workout.
Treatment for Butt Pain After a Workout
For sore glutes after a workout due to piriformis syndrome, treatment involves rest, exercises to strengthen the piriformis muscle, massage and, in some cases, physical therapy, per the Cleveland Clinic. In more severe cases, steroid injections or surgery may be required. Chat with your doctor to find out if those options are right for you.
Degenerative disc disease can be treated the following ways, according to NYU Langone Health: medications (like muscle relaxants, NSAIDs, prescription pain relievers and corticosteroids), physical therapy or acupuncture. You may eventually need surgery to repair or replace damaged discs, per Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Your doctor can help you figure out which treatment plan is best for you.
Lastly, glute soreness after workout because of sciatica can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, heat or ice, sciatica-specific stretches and strengthening exercises, according to Penn Medicine. Physical therapy can also help. Again, talk with your health care provider to see what's right for you.
Prevent Butt Pain After a Workout
If your butt is sore after a workout due to DOMS, you can prevent it by gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your workout, especially if you're starting a new exercise program, per the ACSM. It's also important to warm up and cool down before and after a workout.
Proper warm-ups and cool-downs can also help prevent piriformis syndrome, per the Cleveland Clinic, along with exercising with correct form and focusing on good posture in your day-to-day life.
Degenerative disc disease can be prevented by staying active, especially with exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles around your spine, per Edison Spine Center. When lifting weights, focus on proper form to avoid injuries like a herniated disc. If you're not sure you're doing an exercise correctly, a personal trainer can assist you.
Avoid sitting or lying with pressure on your butt for long periods of time to prevent sciatica, according to Penn Medicine. Regularly doing exercises to strengthen your core muscles can also help.
- ACSM: "Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Piriformis Syndrome"
- AANS: "Herniated Disc"
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: "Degenerative Disc Disease"
- Penn Medicine: "Sciatica"
- Mayo Clinic: "Sciatica"
- NASM: "MUSCLE SORENESS & DOMS: HOW TO PREVENT & TREAT SORE MUSCLES"
- NYU Langone Health: "Nonsurgical Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease"
- Edison Spine Center: "Degenerative Disc Disease"