The gluteus medius muscle is used for walking, standing and other important movements. This is a common muscle to get triggers in, and these trigger points can cause pain and discomfort.
The gluteus medius is a posture muscle – meaning that it’s constantly working throughout the day to perform the million stabilising movements necessary to keep you upright and balanced. It isn’t a big strong muscle like the gluteus maximus, hence the higher likelihood of triggers occurring.
Trigger points in this muscle cause pain deep in the buttock, and up into the lower back. In fact, lower back pain often arises from muscles in the buttock, meaning that the two areas commonly need to be treated together.
For people who sit down all day, lower back and buttock pain can be a real killer. Various solutions – special chairs, desks, back supports etc. can be helpful. For long term relief. you need to isolate the movements or positions that irritate the muscle.
Triggers in the gluteus medius occur high up – near where the muscle joins the iliac crest. Actually reaching the triggers can be challenging – they lie under the gluteus maximus. So you first need to make sure the gluteus maximus is relaxed, then put pressure through this large muscle and down into the gluteus medius.
To perform a myofascial trigger point release, apply pressure gently at first. Gradually increase it, staying below the pain threshold at all times. Applying the pressure can be hard to do yourself – so using a tennis or lacrosse ball. You can lie on the ball, positioning it so that it’s directly under the trigger. As you lean to put pressure on the ball, your muscles should be relaxed, helping the pressure to penetrate right down to the gluteus medius.
This technique can be very effective, and surprisingly accurate, as long as you position the tennis ball well. After the pressure has been gently applied, be sture to stretch the gluteus medius carefully.
Gluteal stretches can be down lying down. Most effective stretches involve crossing one leg over the other leg and applying gentle increasing pressure. These stretches are very helpful in releasing tension, especially when combined with deep breathing. The idea of any relaxing stretch is not to force the muscle – this only tends to tighten muscles in a protective reflex. You need to gently deepen the stretch. Hold your breath, then as you breathe out, deepen the stretch some more.
Freeing up this muscle can have a great effect on your freedom of movement, walking, siting and flexibility. It’s one of the primary muscles of upright stance, and as such deserves our respect and care.