What are the glutes and piriformis?
The glutes are a group of muscles — gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus — and six supporting muscles that lie underneath the gluteus muscles. Essentially they are your buttocks. The piriformis is a muscle that sits under the gluteus maximus muscle and is an external rotator of the hip joint.
According to the Cleveland Clinic:
What is Piriformis Syndrome?
Piriformis syndrome occurs when your piriformis muscle compresses your sciatic nerve and results in inflammation. It can cause pain or numbness in your buttock and down the back of your leg. It can happen on one side of your body or both.
The piriformis is a flat, narrow muscle. It runs from your lower spine through your butt to the top of your thighs. Your piriformis muscle extends to each side of your body and aids in almost every movement of your lower body.
The sciatic nerve most commonly runs underneath the piriformis. The nerve travels from your spinal cord, through your buttocks, down the back of each leg, to your feet. It’s the longest, largest nerve in your body.
What’s the difference between piriformis syndrome versus sciatica?
Although the conditions are sometimes related and both affect the sciatic nerve, they are different. A herniated disk or spinal stenosis can cause sciatica. The symptoms tend to affect the lower back and can travel down through the buttocks and leg. Piriformis syndrome only involves the piriformis muscle pressing on one area of the sciatic nerve in the buttock. It can feel a lot like sciatica but in a more specific area.
How to deal with a sore glute?
If you are wondering how to stretch a sore glute, what glute stretches are good for low back pain, and what the fastest remedy is to sore glute relief... we have a lot to day on the matter at Bendable Body.
Here's what Healthline says about how you get tight glutes:
- sitting for long periods of time
- delayed muscle soreness after exercising
- poor posture
- poor form while exercising
- stress on the muscle from striding, jumping, or running
- not warming up before exercising
- not stretching after exercising
That all seems reasonable. But at Bendable Body we always marvel at how other muscle groups are often ignored when it comes to symptoms. And how the fascia in the body and the role it plays is almost always ignored.
In the video below we give you 3 stretches to address your glutes and piriformis. Only one of those stretches directly goes through the actual buttocks. It's the IT band associated with the gall bladder meridian. The IT band crosses over the top of the buttocks attaching at the sacrum. Stretching this muscle group will give you some relief in the glutes and piriformis if it is tight. However if you have pain there, we definitely recommend that you include the other 2 muscle groups as well.
The 2nd stretch is for the central hamstring attaching at the base of the pelvis and the outside lower knee. Though the central hamstring itself doesn't run through the buttocks, the meridian - which is the Brain Meridian - does and so does the fascial plane. As you probably know by now, our stretches align with meridian channels and fascial planes. So you may be specifically stretching the central hamstring, the impact is going along the whole meridian channel and fascial plane.
The 3rd stretch is for the adductors (inner thighs), associated with the Liver Meridian... which is no where near the buttocks, glutes, or piriformis. The reason we want you do this stretch is because of the relationship it has with the above 2 muscle groups (IT band and central hamstring).
The adductors have what we call a balancing relationship with the IT band. What this means is, that when the IT band muscle group lengthens or shortens in your body to make movements, the adductors do the opposite to allow that movement. So if the adductors have been tense or tight and stop working, it will naturally impact the IT band muscle group - where you may be feeling the symptom in your glutes or piriformis. That's why you can get relief in your glutes by stretching your inner thighs!
The adductors also have an important relationship with the central hamstring. We call it opposing. The 2 muscle groups come at a right angle in the body to one another and impact the ability of the other to rotate sufficiently - which is one of the primary movement vectors of every muscle in the body - rotation. So again, if the adductors are tight or tense and unhealthy and not making optimal movements, that will impact the central hamstring and the fascial, meridian plane it runs along (the glutes!). When you get your adductors working better, the central hamstring and glutes will also feel the relief and benefit.