The gluteus minimus is, as its name implies, the smallest of the gluteal muscles and is therefore part of the muscles of your buttocks.
Like all the other muscles featured on this site, it can get overloaded, tense and develop trigger points.
As a result, your buttocks will hurt. Often there is also sciatic pain, i.e. pain radiating down the leg of the affected side. A problem that troubles a lot of people.
Do you know that you can control this pain yourself? Provided that the pain stems from the gluteus.
On this page you will learn everything you need to know in order to free this muscle of pain and trigger points.
If the gluteus minimus is tense, it is sensitive to pressure and locally painful. That means if you push into the muscle, it’ll hurt right there.
However, if the muscle carries trigger points , the pain might radiate to other areas. In this case to the leg of the affected side. The pain zones differ depending on where the trigger points are situated.
Here we distinguish between trigger points in the front and rear portion of the muscle.
Trigger points in the front portion of the muscle can send pain from the back of your buttock to the lateral side of your thigh, and all the way down to your ankle.
In rare cases, the pain can even radiate into your foot (not shown in the picture!).
Trigger points in the rear portion, on the other hand, lead to a different pain distribution. They cause pain below the iliac crest and at the back of the buttock.
Moreover, these points can lead to pain in the back of the thigh, the outer hollow of the knee and the upper half of the calf.
The tensions and trigger points described above often cause the affected person to feel pain at night when lying on the side, because of the body weight put on the muscle.
In addition, many affected persons complain of pain after having been in a sitting position for a long period of time. Standing up, and even walking can be unbearably painful.
You may not be able to find a pain-free position, which can be very stressful. Especially if you do not know that the gluteus minimus may be the cause of the pain.
The pain described can also be caused by an inflamed bursa on the outside of the thigh – bursitis trochanterica – or by a pinched nerve – radiculopathy – e.g. a spinal disc herniation.
In this case, it is recommended to consult an orthopaedist!
As always, the exact Latin names are not important for you. But you need to know that the muscle runs from your iliac wing to the lateral side of your thigh.
Nevertheless, in the following I provide the exact anatomical landmarks for all who are interested.
Six functions can be distinguished:
The anterior fibers of the muscle rotate the thigh inward, thus leading to an internal rotation of the hip, beside of providing its flexion.
The posterior fibers rotate the thigh outward/laterally, thus they provide external rotation and extension of the hip.
The muscle as a whole spreads the leg to the side, which is also called abduction, or stabilizes your hip while you stand on only one leg.
This prevents the body from tilting to the side where the leg has no contact with the ground.
It becomes clear that the muscle contributes significantly to your gait, as all of its functions are required when walking.
So hopefully it now makes sense for you that walking causes pain if your gluteus minimus is tense and/or carries trigger points.
Overloading, but also lack of strain (“underuse”) are the most common factors for tension, trigger points and thus also for pain in the gluteus minimus.
Overload occurs mainly in sports. Especially in sports that require you to change direction many times or to stand frequently on one leg.
But keep in mind that even a long walk or hike might cause tension and trigger points. Especially if you are not used to these activities.
“Underuse” is found in our inactive lifestyle and is reflected by all sitting positions.
The anterior fibers of the gluteus minimus are permanently approached by the hip flexion associated with sitting.
Thus, the anterior portion of the muscle is shortened, while the posterior fibers are permanently stretched. Both is “unhealthy” for a muscle and sooner or later causes ailments.
In addition to under – and overuse, the following scenarios also often lead to trigger points.
Since it’s impossible for you to feel the muscle (as it lies so deep), I will show you its massage area in the following chapter.
For the self-massage, you need a hard massage ball. It must also not be too large, otherwise you will not be able to penetrate deep enough into the tissue to reach the muscle.
Alternatively, you can massage it with your hands. However, this puts a lot of strain on your fingers and is only possible if you have very strong hands. Please be careful with your hands!
As a massage technique you can use all the techniques presented on this website.
On this page, I will explain how to loosen the muscle with precise massage strokes whilst lying down.
The area you are massaging is situated between the greater trochanter and the iliac crest. Please don’t be scared, you will understand where to place the ball, I promise.
Note: The gluteus medius also is situated in this area and you will inevitably massage the two at a time. But that is not a problem!
To massage this area, place the ball between the iliac crest and the greater trochanter, but this time a little further back.