External rotation (here in combination with hip flexion)
The gluteus maximus is your big buttock muscle, and can contribute to pain and movement impairments in the lower back and sacral region.
It is often tender and tense in persons that suffer from low back pain or stiffness in the lower back.
It can cause problems and pain, especially if you are not well trained, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, or if you use it excessively.
Tensions in the gluteus maximus can trigger local pain in the buttocks.
Even with trigger points, the muscle does not refer pain to other areas, like trigger points in the gluteus medius often do.
Additionally, tensions and trigger points in this muscle, located near the iliac crest, often result in pain and stiffness in the lower back.
However, with a self-massage and long-term strengthening exercises, the problems can be controlled “relatively easily”.
Besides the pains displayed above, which can also occur at rest, people with tensions and trigger points in the gluteus maximus often report that the pain is particularly severe and gets worse when:
This is because the already “overworked” muscle is put under even more mechanical stress as you either lengthen its fibers or use it heavily in its function.
What is more, it is often painful and can lead to cramps in the buttocks if you shorten the muscle and then contract it vigorously.
This happens in strengthening exercises for your bottom, for example. Here you usually stretch the front of your hip and contract strongly your bottom, hence also the gluteus maximus.
The functions of the muscle are diverse.
Note on the hip extension: Our hamstrings work closely together with the gluteus maximus and are usually more involved in hip extension than the gluteus maximus. The gluteus gets very active when…
… the hip extension is done out of a hip flexion.
… the thighs are fixed.
… the hip extension is done out of a hip flexion and knee flexion.
… the hip extension is accompanied by a back extension.
Tensions and trigger points in the gluteus maximus usually develop due to too much or too little load on the muscle:
Feeling the gluteus maximus will not be a problem. Just stand upright and contract your buttocks. Now feel the entire muscle with your hand.
That is, from your coccyx, through the sacrum, the iliac crest, to the outside of your thigh and down to your sit bones.
For the self-massage, I recommend a hard massage ball. I use a cork massage ball.
There are several options how to perform the massage, depending on the level of intensity you desire.
You can perform the massage standing (i.e. with a ball against the wall), or in a lying position.
The standing variant is certainly the less intensive and especially suitable if the muscle reacts very sensitively to pressure.
I will now show you the massage in a lying position, as it is very effective. As always, make sure you work concentrated and slowly!
Now we go into the fleshy part of the muscle. The way you massage this area is the same as described above. However, I must point out that the sciatic nerve might be exposed to slight pressure.
Personally, I’ve never had a problem with that before. But in people with weakly developed gluteal muscles, the nerve is exposed to stronger pressure, since there is less musculature which could serve as a buffer zone.
If you pressurize the nerve too long, it may cause you pain in the following one or two weeks. Possibly, this pain transmits to the leg and even if it is temporary, it is highly unpleasant.
Therefore: Start the massage slowly. Keep its duration short and its pressure low, especially in the beginning, and wait for the reactions of your body. This way you will probably be fine.