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Gluteus Maximus Muscle: Low Back, Hip, Tailbone, Buttock Pain

Gluteus Maximus Strain and Trigger Point Pain

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 joint. The pain ranges from sudden and sharp (injury) to dull persistent aching (repetitive motion wear and tear).
Trigger points in the gluteus maximus cause aching pain and stiffness in the hip and buttock areas. Pain can become sharp with certain movements such as standing after sitting.



The gluteus maximus muscle is the large outermost muscle of the buttocks.

Gluteus Maximus Trigger Point Symptoms

Trigger points are small tight muscle bands or knots that are found in the muscle. Trigger points are sore when pressed and can send pain to other parts of the body. Gluteus maximus trigger point pain is localized to the hip, low back and upper thigh.

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.

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

Gluteus Maximus Pain Referral Pattern: Pain at the base of the spine, top of the back of the hip that extends down beside and into the gluteal fold, and pain on the outside of the hip. Pain can extend down into the back of the upper thigh.

Satellite trigger points associated with the gluteus maximus

Muscle trigger points often cause other 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

Recommendations for  Gluteus Maximus Trigger Point Pain

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)

CorPak Soft Comfort Large Hot & Cold Pack Wrap is a versatile pack that will treat most areas of the body. This pack works well for the gluteal muscles as it is large enough to cover the area. The soft frost free cover will not irritate your skin. For recent injuries, use it cold to reduce swelling. For older injuries or chronic pain use heat to relax the muscles and increase circulation.

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.

Gluteus Maximus Muscle Trigger Points: The Causes and Prevention

What causes gluteus maximus trigger points?

  • 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

Trigger point recovery time

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 Trigger Point Therapy Workbook is an excellent resource to learn how to find and treat trigger points.


Falling and landing on your hips in a seated position will cause trigger points to develop in the gluteus maximus muscle.

Tips To Avoid Gluteus Maximus 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!

Learn To Treat Gluteus Maximus Trigger Point Pain

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.

The Trigger Point Workbook recommends two tools to self-treat the gluteus maximus muscle. The first is a hard-ball like the Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls. This is a good choice if you do not have issues with flexibility or mobility.

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.

Gluteus Maximus Strain Symptoms

A gluteus maximus strain occurs when the muscle is stretched beyond its limit causing tears in the muscle and/or tendon fibers. The strain can happen during  strenuous activities or may happen over time due to repetitious motions of the hip.

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. Minute tears to the muscle begin and increase in severity over time.

Signs and Symptoms of a Gluteus Maximus Strain

  • 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

Explosive kicks that are repeatedly practiced in martial arts or dance class are stressors for the glute max muscle.

Use the R.I.C.E protocol to treat a gluteus maximus strain

  • 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 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.

Recommendations for Gluteus Maximus Strain Treatment

The NatraCure Hot and Cold Hip Wrap works very well for gluteus maximus pain. The wrap has a gel pack which can be chilled for injuries and heated for chronic pain. The wrap also provides compression to the muscle which can help relieve pain. Highly recommended for anyone who has had hip surgery or chronic hip pain.

BioFreeze Cold Therapy Gel is recommended for injury and after hip surgery because cools the injured area like ice (not a replacement for cold therapy. It can be applied after an ice/cold pack treatment to prolong the cold treatment and reduce pain. Highly recommended many medical professionals for muscle strains.

The Roxofit Hip Brace provides support and compression to an injured gluteus maximus muscle. The brace treats all potential problem areas, hip, low back, buttocks and upper thigh.

Gluteus Maximus Strain Causes and Recovery Time

Actions that can cause a glute max strain:

  • 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

How long does it take a gluteus maximus muscle 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


Repeatedly engaging in deep squats and knee bends especially when bearing weight can cause glute max muscle strains.

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

Product Suggestions To Relieve Gluteus Maximus Hip Pain

Heated Massage Pad to relieve back pain.Relax To Reduce Muscle Pain
The gluteus maximus not only causes pain in the hip, but can contribute to pain in the lower back and thighs. For those times you need to reduce the pain and relax the Snailax Vibrating Massage Mat With Heat does the job. You can use the heat and massage together or separately to find what works best for you.

Sitting or Standing All Day Will Cause Low Back, Hip, and Leg Pain

Sitting a lot is a major contributor to low back and hip pain. Designing your workspace so you can alternate standing and sitting will not only relieve muscle pain but will have overall health benefits. The Varidesk is one of many adjustable standing desks made to sit atop your workspace. There are several available models to fit your specific needs. The VariDesk Pro Plus 30 will fit on most desktops.

Gluteus Maximus Lociation, Functions, and Actions

Gluteus Maximus Location

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 (ilotibial band and femur).

Functions and Actions

  • 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
Gluteus Maximus Muscle

The gluteus maximus muscle helps you straighten up from bending at the waist. twists your thigh out as well as lifts your leg out to the side.

Gluteus Maximus Anatomy Info

Need more detailed anatomy information such as the origin, insertion, and actions? Check out the gluteus maximus anatomy page. Agonist and antagonist are listed for each muscle action.



Other Interesting Information About the Gluteus Maximus Muscle

Interesting facts about the gluteus maximus:

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

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

  • 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

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the gluteus maximus muscle:


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