How Can I Get Rid of Nagging Butt Cheek Pain?

Piriformis syndrome can wreck a runner’s routine. Here’s how to prevent it.

pain in left buttock pain in right buttock butt cheek pain

Our tribe of runners tend to have a collective understanding about a few things: If you wear runningshoes that are a tad too small, you’ll likely get a black toenail (or two); Foam rolling is a great way to spend some time after double-digit weekend kilometres (if you do it right); Though we won’t admit it, rest days are key; And sometimes, you get a nagging pain.

No, not a running buddy who won’t stop talking during hard efforts, we’re talking about an actual pain in your left or right buttock that causes regular discomfort before and after a run.

Why does my buttock hurt?

Although there are many things that can contribute to pain in the right or left buttock cheek, which are made up of your glute muscles and flesh, piriformis syndrome is among the most common causes. The piriformis is a powerful, small muscle that sits deep behind the glute and is responsible for external rotation of the hip joint. Next to the piriformis is the sciatic nerve. When the nerve gets irritated, either through repetitive activities like running or prolonged sitting, this causes a deep, dull pain.

“The sciatic nerve is a big bundle of nerves that supplies motor and sensory function from the hips all the way down to the toes,” says Blake Dircksen, doctor of physical therapy. “So when the nerve is chronically compressed, you may experience symptoms all the way down the leg.”

In a perfect world, the sciatic nerve is able to slide, glide, and bend with movements such as hip flexion and rotation. When it’s compressed, that mobility is compromised. Common symptoms of butt cheek pain include a deep burning or cramping in the glute or posterior thigh, tingling or a shooting pain down the leg, and discomfort with sitting on hard surfaces. The good news is that there are a number of things that you can do to alleviate the pain.

How can I relieve the pain in my buttock?

In the short term, mix up your activity levels. So, if you feel sharp pain in your buttock when sitting or running—do the opposite. On a plane? Get up and walk around. Hitting a speed workout at the track when that zing kicks in? Slow down, and take some time off. Small tweaks, such as making an effort to minimise sitting time or using a soft cushion when sitting on hard surfaces and removing wallets from the back pocket can make a major difference, according to Dircksen.

Also, you may want to consider having an expert evaluate your gait, as excessive overpronation, or the inward movement of the foot when you land, has been shown to contribute to the issue, says exercise physiologist Susan Paul.

In the long term, it’s all about stretching and strengthening the piriformis and the surrounding muscles to help reduce muscle tension. Here, Dircksen outlines four techniques to counteracting piriformis syndrome. Try them out to relieve the nagging pain in your buttock.

1. Sciatic Nerve Flossing

Start sitting on the edge of a chair or bench so that the side that is bothering you is hanging off. Rest both feet flat on the floor. Bend the leg that is bothering you, point the toes, and draw the toes back behind you as you look up and back toward the ceiling. It’s okay to feel a slight amount of discomfort here. Next, straighten that knee and extend that leg out in front of you as you flex the toes. Reverse back to the starting position and repeat the motion with leg, but this time by tucking your chin to your chest. Return to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 12 reps.

This content is imported from youTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

2. Figure Four Foam Rolling

Start sitting on a foam roller. Reach your left arm back, placing it a few centimetres behind you. Cross left ankle over right knee, creating a figure four position. Shift your weight slightly to the left hip area. Roll forward and back a few inches for about 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on opposite side. (See the video below.)

3. Dynamic Hamstring Stretch

Start in a runners lunge with your right foot forward, both hands on the floor framing your foot. Slowly straighten your right leg as much as possible, feeling a stretch up the back of the hamstring. Return back to start for one rep. Do 12 reps; repeat on other leg.

should you stretch before running

4. 90/90 External Rotation Stretch

Sit on the floor with the right leg bent at a 90-degree angle in front of you, with the outside of the right leg on the floor, right shin is parallel to shoulders, and thigh is extending straight forward from right hip. Position the left leg behind you, with knee bent at a 90-degree angle and the inside of the leg on the floor. Right heel and left knee should line up. Placing hands lightly on the floor on either side of the right leg, gently lean shoulders forward over right leg without rounding your back. Hold for 2 seconds. Sit up straight then lean back, placing hands lightly on the floor behind hips. Hold for 2 seconds. Continue leaning forward and back for 30 seconds.

Related Articles