What Causes Pain in the Gluteus Muscles After a Workout

Barbell Squat
A man is about to do a barbell squat. (Image: Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images)

Pain in the gluteus maximus after working out can signify delayed onset muscle soreness, sciatica pain or a muscle strain injury. Pain in the gluteus maximus can make normal daily activities difficult and often results from workouts like squats, lunges and step ups. If pain persists for over a week or is debilitating, consult your doctor.

Causes

Pain in your gluteus maximus after working out is typically caused by delayed onset muscle soreness. 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. DOMS occurs when you perform a new workout or push your body harder than it’s accustomed to. Sciatica pain can be confused with gluteus maximus pain and is often caused by a lumber herniated disc that places pressure on the nerve root in your lower back. Lifting weights incorrectly, such as performing squats without utilizing proper technique, can increase your risk of a herniated disk. Over time, you will feel pain in your buttocks region. A strain can also cause pain in your gluteus maximus during and after working out.

Identification

Delayed onset muscle soreness will be felt 12 to 48 hours after your workout. The muscles will feel tight, ache and be painful if touched. The tightness makes stretching and contraction of the gluteus maximus uncomfortable. The pain will spontaneously go away on its own within a week. Sciatica pain will result in an irritating burning sensation that starts in your lower back and radiates down your buttocks toward your knee. 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 gluteus maximus during your workout.

Treatment

For DOMS, wait at least a week to perform the same exercises that target your gluteus maximus. A massage can relieve symptoms. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve the pain associated with DOMS. Sitting in a sauna or hot bath can help relax your muscles. Stretching the gluteus maximus can loosen tight muscles from DOMS. Stretching your back and performing stretches can lessen sciatica pain in your buttocks. Irritation to your nerve root will typically improve within two weeks to a few months. Surgery may be needed to remove the portion of the disk irritating the nerve root. If you injured your gluteus maximus, resting and icing the area can help relieve pain until the muscle heals.

Prevention

Prevent DOMS from returning by gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your workout. Warm up for 10 minutes before starting a workout routine and always follow your workout with a 10-minute cooldown period. Stay hydrated by drinking before you get thirsty. Prevent a herniated disk, which results in sciatica pain, by lifting weights properly. Keep your back straight, don’t lock your knees, don’t bend at the waist and use your leg muscles to lift weight. Proper exercise technique will also help you prevent injuries.

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