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How to ease painful, tight glutes and sore hips with sports massage


Check out Burlesque Performer Michelle L’amour Twerking to Beethoven, and demonstrating just how we might get sore, tight glutes from a serious training session! This clip *is* a little ‘cheeky’ – so be warned ;-)

Michelle L’amour performs “BUTTHOVEN’S 5TH SYMPHONY” from franky vivid on Vimeo.

Photo and Video Credit: Vimeo

Ouch! My tight glutes feel overworked and sore – just like in the video! – how can I get pain relief?

If you’ve been working out your glutes like Michelle L’amour, the star performer shown in the video, you’ll know that tight, sore gluteal muscles are NO FUN. Sports and remedial massage can help ease and loosen such muscle tightness, as well as help restore muscular imbalances. By loosening taught tissues, a sports massage therapist can create ‘space’ around the muscles and hips, relieving pain, and facilitating movement. Read on to find out how you can help yourself get relief from painful glutes.

What causes stiff, aching glutes?

Our muscles are coated in a strong, thin film of connective tissue called ‘fascia’. If you’ve ever prepared chicken, you might remember taking the skin off the bird and seeing the membrane covering all the muscles? That’s fascia. As well as covering the whole muscle, it covers all the individual muscle fibres too. In fact, our ‘muscle’ is nothing more than a type of protein paste, with fascia forming surrounding the paste, much like a sausage, to form individual, microscopic muscle fibres. These in turn are coated with more fascia – which binds all the ‘sausages’ together to form what you see as a big ‘muscle’.

Now as you can imagine, every time our muscles move, the fascia gets worn down. In order to maintain our structure, it needs to grow – constantly. Which is all well and good in a healthy, moving body – it grows, it gets worn down etc, etc. But where muscles have been overused, and torn microscopically, the fascia grows and reaches out to gather the surrounding muscle fibres together. It is trying to repair damaged tissue, but in the process can inadvertently bind otherwise healthy tissue together, causing lengths of muscle fibres to shorten, and therefore tighten.

But how does that make my glutes sore and painful?

Now imagine you’re sitting at your desk, slumped over the computer in the same position you’ve been in all day. The muscles aren’t moving, yet the fascia continues to grow. As we now know, the fascia isn’t being ‘worn down’ by the movement, so, continuing to grow, it starts further restricting movement in already stiff/recently repaired areas. The fascia grows layer by layer, forming a hard, compact substance which often irritates nerves. Furthermore, muscle waste such as lactic acid gets trapped too. You now have a big, nasty traffic jam going on. And we all know how painful they can be!

What is the best treatment for painful, tight glutes?

Well if you remember, the cause of the pain in this scenario is a build up of compacted fascia in tight, shortened tissues. And a LACK OF MOVEMENT. So it stands to reason that the solution here might be to REDUCE the compacted fascia, lengthen the tissues, and facilitate MOVEMENT. This can be done with skilled sports and remedial massage, and stretching.

If you feel confident to do so, and have been show how to stretch safely, try some glute stretches, or even try using a foam roller. If you feel confident, and are in a safe position and environment, try shutting your eyes when you stretch – this will heighten your senses surrounding your body awareness. Be slow, progressive and gentle. Often pain can be described as ‘right’, or ‘wrong’ pain. If it feels like a ‘wrong’ pain, then it’s important you STOP, and consult a Doctor or other medical professional.

Can tight glutes cause Sciatica?

Tightness around the glutes/piriformis and hips is one of the main causes of sciatica. Check out our hugely popular post on Sciatica.

What about lower back pain?

Tight, stiff painful glutes and sore hips often travel up into the lower back, causing, or contributing to lower back pain. Our fascia is an unending 3D web that coats all of our soft tissue – so tightness can often spread.

How else might a good sports massage therapist provide care and support for tight, painful glutes and hips?

As well as manually easing the tight fascia and sore muscles, a good sports and remedial massage therapist can show you how to stretch to ease and mobilise stiff muscles that are causing pain. City Sports Massage in London also specialise in teaching breathing and body awareness skills that can enhance the efficacy of stretching and mobilisation – making it less of a chore, and more like something that feels relevant and helpful. It can be reassuring to know that not only can sports massage be an effective treatment for tight glutes, but also that YOU can be involved in improving on, and maintaining the benefits that sports massage has provided.

And you never know, once your glutes are restored to full health, you may even want to learn the routine that Michelle demonstrates with such skill!

Michelle L' amour shows demonstrates a cheeky, but very effective glute workout

Please note that this article is for general information purposes only. If you are suffering from a medical condition, diagnosis should be carried out by your Doctor, or a medical professional. City Sports Massage are not liable for the content of any external websites.

© Jon Gee 2013Jon Gee is the founder of City Sports Massage, a team of sports massage therapists based in London who combine deep-tissue massage therapy with stress-reduction and body-awareness techniques. Jon has worked with body dynamics for almost two decades, and specialises in treating pain that is chronic and longstanding. He often incorporates the teaching of mindfulness, breathing and body awareness skills, in order to help clients self-manage, and be less reliant on massage/bodywork treatments. Jon also teaches other massage therapists, and health practitioners, and has written articles on his teaching methods for the peer-reviewed Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.
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