Gluteus Maximus Pain: Trigger Points and Glute Max Strain

Trigger points (TrPs) in the gluteus maximus (glute max) cause aching pain and stiffness in the hip and buttock areas. Pain can become sharp with certain movements such as standing after sitting.

A gluteus maximus strain or pulled muscle can be felt anywhere in the muscle but is commonly felt around the tailbone or the near the hip jointThe pain ranges from sudden and sharp (injury) to dull persistent aching (repetitive motion wear and tear).

Contents Of Article:

Where is the gluteus maximus muscle?

The gluteus maximus is the large muscle of the buttock. It connects the hip bone (Iliac crest) and the bottom of the spine (sacrum) to the upper thigh (iliotibial band and femur).

What Movements Does It Control?

  • Straightens the thigh at the hip (straightening up from bending over to touch your toes)
  • Twists thigh away from the body
  • Lifts leg out to the side


Looking for detailed muscle anatomy? The Gluteus Maximus Anatomy Page. has origin, insertion, innervation, and blood supply information. It also lists agonists and antagonists for each muscle action.

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle of the buttocks.
Image: ©Depositphotos medicalstocks

 

Gluteus Maximus Trigger Points Symptoms:

Gluteus maximus trigger point pain is felt toward the back of the hip and thigh near the hip joint, the base of the spine, and in the upper buttock going down alongside and into the gluteal fold. Pain will occasionally extend down into the upper thigh.

Other signs and symptoms:

  • Pain around the tailbone
  • Pain and burning in the buttocks
  • Sitting is extremely uncomfortable and painful
  • Pain at the top of the back of the hip/low back pain
  • Outer hip pain near and or around the joint
  • Stiffness in the hips
  • Increased pain when walking uphill, up an incline, and climbing stairs
  • Inability or increased pain when you bend over to touch your toes
Trigger Points Information

Trigger points are small knots found in the muscle that when pressed increase pain in the area or send referred pain to another area of the body. To learn more about trigger points read Muscle Trigger Points and How They Contribute To Muscle and Joint Pain.

TWD Recommends:
The Coccyx Cushion is designed to relieve pressure on the low back, hips, and thighs. If you have aching pain and tingling in the low back, buttocks, and upper thighs this cushion will make sitting more comfortable.

What Causes Trigger Points To Develop?

  • Sports and activities that require a lot of jumping
  • Falling and landing on your backside
  • Swimming especially when using the flutter kick
  • Climbing
  • Deep knee bends
  • Weightlifting
  • Repetitive lifting of heavy objects with knees bent (this may protect your back, but puts enormous strain on the glute max)
  • Prolonged sitting on hard surfaces
  • Sitting for long periods
  • Sitting on a wallet
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How To Avoid Development of Trigger Points

  • Make a conscious choice to not sit for hours at a time. This shortens and tightens the muscle. If you work at a desk consider investing in a standing desk.
  • Take your wallet, phone, and other bulky items out of your back pocket before sitting.
  • Always take time to warm up and do a few stretches before exercise and competitions.
  • If you are going to a climbing wall or will be hiking uphill, take breaks and rest.
  • Don't push past the muscle fatigue if running stairs.
  • Be sure to use correct form when lifting weights. Don't over-do it!

TWD Recommends:
If you sit at a desk all day consider investing in a standing desk. Alternating sitting and standing during the day will help eliminate back, hip, and leg pain.

Gluteus Maximus Trigger Point Treatment

Gluteus maximus trigger points are easily self-treated. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook is the book that I recommend to anyone who wants to learn about self-treatment. The book not only explains trigger points but also includes diagrams of how to locate each muscles' trigger point and the treatment method.

Note: If you are buying the workbook to treat glute max pain you will need a small hardball to use for treatment. The Massage Balls are the right size and work very well.

Part of the treatment with massage balls is leaning against a wall with the ball between the glute and wall. If you have problems with mobility or balance you should buy the Thera Cane Massager. You can use the cane standing without worrying about balancing while leaning against a wall.

Another option is to find a massage therapist, physical therapist, or a chiropractor trained in trigger point therapy.  A trained therapist can show you how to find specific trigger points and how to self-treat at home.

Trigger points respond best to several short treatments of 1-2 minutes throughout the day. Consistency is important for successful treatment.

TWD Recommends:

The best resource to learn how to treat small painful knots is The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. The authors explain trigger points and their effects in everyday language, not medical speak. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning to treat their own muscle pain.

If you are buying the Trigger Point Workbook to self-treat the glute max you will need a hardball for treatment. The Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls are a good choice to use on the thighs and other areas throughout the body.

TWD Recommends For Chronic Muscle Pain:


Relief Factor

How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?

A reduction in pain, stiffness and muscle tightness is noticeable after a few treatments, often a difference is felt after the first treatment. Treatments should be done several times a day for 1-2 minutes per treatment until the trigger point is gone.

The Thera Cane is the other tool recommended by the TrP Workbook. This tool is easy for most people to use. You do not have to contort your body or have a lot of hand strength. You can easily reach most areas of the body including the glutes, low back, and back of the thighs.

Interesting facts:

  • The gluteus maximus is the large muscle of the buttocks.
  • The gluteus maximus is the muscle that allows humans to walk upright.
  • The gluteus maximus provides the power necessary to jump, run, and power walk.

Gluteus maximus muscle pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnoses:

  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Sacroiliac joint displacement
  • Inflammation of the sub gluteus medius bursa
  • Sciatica
  • Hip Dislocation
  • Hip Pointer
  • L4, L5 radiculopathy
  • Intervertebral Stenosis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Coccygodnia
  • Tensor Fasciae Latae Syndrome
  • Cauda equina syndrome

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is recommended for relaxing muscles and relieving pain. It warms without the burning heat of other gels. An excellent choice for pain caused by trigger points, muscle/joint over-use and stiffness, and arthritis. (Not sold in stores)

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Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

 

Satellite trigger points associated with the gluteus maximus muscle:

Muscle trigger points often cause trigger points to develop in other muscles. These are known as satellite trigger points.

If trigger points are found in the gluteus maximus these muscles should also be checked for trigger points:

  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus
  • Pectineus
  • Tensor fascia latae
  • Biceps femoris
  • Semitendinosus
  • Semimembranosus
  • Iliopsoas
  • Rectus femoris

Relax While Easing Your Pain and Stiffness

Heated Massage Pad to relieve back pain.
You're tired, your lower back and hips are stiff and hurt. All you want to do is lie down and be able to relax.

The Snailax Vibrating Massage Mat With Heat is made for those times. The mat features a full-body vibrating massage and has multiple settings for massage and heat. The remote allows you to adjust settings with a push of a button. A wonderful way to ease aches and pains in the back, hips, and legs at the end of the day! 69 inches (5' 9") long.

Gluteus Maximus Strain

Gluteus maximus strain pain can be immediate and sharp due to a sudden tearing of muscle or tendon fibers that happens during sports or other strenuous activities.

Pain caused by a repetitive strain injury starts as an aggravating ache that increases with time. This is caused by repetitive motions of the hip. Small tears to the muscle begin and increase in severity over time.

Symptoms of glute max strain are:

  • Injury pain is usually sudden and intense and is felt near the tailbone or on the outside of the hip toward the back of the hip joint
  • Discomfort with increasing pain on the outside of the hip and or in the buttock near the gluteal fold (repetitive stress)
  • Pain when walking
  • Significant pain walking up hills, stairs, and inclines
  • Difficulty squatting
  • Difficulty sitting down and getting up
  • Limited range of motion in the hip
  • Weakness in the hip
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Muscle spasms

Muscle Strain Information

Muscles strains occur when fibers in a muscle or tendon tear. Muscle Strains: Causes and Treatment explains how strains happen, how to know if you have strained a muscle, and recommended treatment.

What Causes Glute Max Strains?

  • Poor conditioning, not taking time for a proper warm-up, and muscle fatigue are contributing factors to strains.
  • Rapid acceleration when running
  • Walking or running up an incline or stairs
  • Aggressive jumping and lunging
  • Explosive kicks (martial arts, dancing)
  • Kicking a ball (football, soccer)
  • Swimming especially when using the flutter kick
  • Repetitive lifting of heavy objects
  • Falling and landing on the buttocks
  • Contact sports
  • Deep squats and knee bends

Sports and activities that contribute to gluteus maximus strains:

  • Martial Arts
  • Dancing
  • Rock and wall climbing
  • Weightlifting
  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Hockey
  • Gymnasts
  • Volleyball

 

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Treatments

It is important to stop activities that stress the muscle and cause pain. This includes exercising, running and lifting. Limit time sitting on the affected side.

Use the R.I.C.E protocol

  • Rest  -  Limit hip movement and weight-bearing on the affected side. Get your sleep, take extra naps.  Rest is important for the healing process.
  • Ice -  Apply ice or cold packs every 2 hours for 20 minutes per treatment for the first 24-48 hours. Using icy cold longer can cause soft tissue damage.
  • Compression -  Apply pressure to reduce swelling and provide support. A Velcro hip support is the easiest, but an Ace can also be used.
  • Elevate: Use pillows to elevate and cushion the hip. Lay on your side that is not injured which will also elevate the injured side.

Follow the protocol for the first 24 - 72 hours until the pain and swelling begin to recede.

Once the swelling and pain have lessened, alternating hot and cold packs throughout the day can bring relief. Use a cold pack for 20 minutes, wait at least an hour and apply a warm pack for 20 minutes. You can do this as often as you like during the day.

TENS units can help reduce pain and are recommended by doctors and therapists. Follow the insert directions for node placement and settings.

TWD Recommends:

Biofreeze Professional Gel is what I recommend for the pain and symptoms of muscle strains. It provides excellent pain relief and may help reduce inflammation caused by a strain. Recommended by medical professionals and trainers. 

Doctors and physical therapists often recommend TENS to relax the piriformis muscle and ease pain. The CUH Rechargeable TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator is highly recommended and a great choice for treating piriformis syndrome and other muscle pain.

If you have or are buying a TENS unit, Doctor Jos' book Maximum Pain Relief with Your TENS Unit will help you use your TENS unit to achieve maximum results.

How long does it take a glute max strain to heal?

A mild strain (Grade I) has minor tearing of muscle and tendon fibers which heal in 2-4 weeks. There is pain and minimal loss of movement or strength in the muscle.

A moderate (Grade II) is partial tearing of the muscle or tendon fibers which will usually heal in 4-8 weeks. There is moderate pain with some loss of range of motion and strength. You may limp.

A severe (Grade III) is a complete tear or rupture of the muscle and may require surgery. Grade III tears may take several months to a year to fully heal. There is a complete loss of range of movement and muscle strength. If you have a Grade III injury, you cannot put weight on the affected side.

Note: Grade II and Grade III should be monitored by a medical professional

TWD Recommends:

Cureve Hot Cold Pack can be used for warm and cold treatments. It is a good choice for glute muscles treatment. It is large enough to lay either horizontally across the back and hips or vertically to cover the low back, hip, and top of the thigh.

The Roxofit Hip Brace provides support and compression if your strain is where the muscle attaches to the femur and/or IT Band. 

Other muscles with similar pain patterns:

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