Do you suffer from low back pain? Is there a lingering dull ache that you just can’t shake? Do you spend the majority of your day sitting? The chief offender could be your glutes.
The glutes are largest muscle in the body and they are subdivided into: gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. In general they originate from the posterior iliac crest (back hip bone), sacrum, and coccyx, and they insert into the IT band and femur. When this muscle becomes chronically tight, or exhausted from constantly firing, it can refer pain into the lower back.
It’s important to note that there are many causes of lower back pain, and while your glutes may not be the cause, it never hurts to investigate and check; because you never know, they just might be.
So what can we do? First off, we need to heat the tissue. Heat applied locally to a tight muscle will dilate the blood vessels, allowing more blood into the tissue. In essence, heat will help to loosen up a tight muscle. Think of it as a good primer for a stretch. Next we will do just that, give that tight muscle a nice, deep stretch. To target the glutes:
Targeting the left lateral gluteus maximus
You can use a heat pad, gel pack, or hot water bottle. apply locally over the glutes for 10 to 15 minutes pre-stretch
1- lay down on your back with your knees bent 45*
2- cross your ankle across your thigh a few inches above the knee.
3- interlock your fingers behind your knee and begin to pull your knee in towards your chest
4- make sure that you are keeping the knee pointed outwards
5- stretch the tissue to your first point of resistance. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale try to feel the tissue lengthen. Pick up the slack and repeat
6- hold the stretch for a minimum of 1-2 minutes, or take 3-5 slow deep inhales and exhales
7- release the tissue slowly and gently, and repeat with the opposite side
8- if you feel any pain (other than normal stretching pain), or pins and needles sensations, discontinue. The goal is to lengthen the tissue, not cause a muscle strain.
9- repeat the stretch on the opposite side for.
After the application of the heat and a nice deep stretch, pay attention to your lower back. If you feel like some of your pain and discomfort has been reduced, then you can safely assume that the glutes were the prime offender. If you feel that there has been no change in your symptoms, then we can rule out the glutes as a factor, and eliminate them from the investigation.
Remember your breathing. It is the key to releasing tight muscles. As you stretch the tissue to its point of resistance, breath into that tight and painful spot, and exhale out that tension. Then feel for a small release, pick up the slack, and repeat.
Be mindful to not over-stretch! Always listen to your body.
Thank you for reading!