Stretching the Gluteal Muscles

By Dr. Grant Matkovich

Dear Runners,

This time we are going to look at how to stretch the Gluteal muscles.

The Gluteal muscles (Glutes) are your ‘butt’ muscles and are made up of three muscles. The 1. Gluteus Maximus, 2. Gluteus Medius and 3. Gluteus Minimus.

These butt muscles move the hip so are used a lot with running (like a lot!), so are often tight from being over-used. This is why the Gluteus are a common cause for butt, back of the leg and groin pain and tightness in runners.

So stretching them is important!

1. Gluteus Maximus

This is the main and biggest butt muscle.

It moves the hip backwards, so it works in every stride when you run.

Tips to do it correctly:

  • Pull the knee up to the chest towards the shoulder on the same side.
  • You should feel the stretch in your butt, there should be no pinching in your groin.
  • If you cant feel the stretch in your butt, then try pulling your knee over your body towards your shoulder on the opposite side. This should cause a deeper stretch in the Gluteus maximus.

Add this stretch to your routine after long runs, if you have low back pain when running or tight Gluteus muscles.

2. Gluteus Medius and Minimus

These muscles both help stabilize the pelvis (they help keep you up-right when you are standing) and they move the hip outwards. So can be stretched together.

These muscles are used when running. They are not used as much as Gluteus Maximus, but are still important and can cause pain.

Tips to doing this stretch correctly:

  • This is an awkward stretch to find the correct position. But with tight muscles you will feel the stretch in the position. If there is no stretch, the muscles may not be tight.
  • This is a good stretch to add if you have ITB issues.

For both these stretches:

  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times. It is best to do both sides, even if the other side isn’t tight.
  • The ideal stretch is to find the position that is comfortable but not yet uncomfortable.

Next time we will look at the Piriformis muscle, which is under the Gluteal muscles and is also a common cause of pain in runners.

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