Gluteal Strain

The muscles in your butt (buttocks) are called gluteal muscles. A gluteal strain means that the muscles are stretched or have small tears. This can cause pain or stiffness in your buttocks. You also might feel pain in your lower back.

Anyone can strain gluteal muscles. However, it happens often to dancers, runners, and other athletes.


There are various causes of gluteal strain. They include:

  • Stretching the gluteal muscles too far.

  • Putting too much stress on the muscles before they are warmed up.

  • Overusing the muscles.

  • Getting hit hard on the gluteal muscles (a bruise or contusion).

Gluteal strain is more likely to happen when:

  • You are working out in cold weather.

  • You are tired.

  • You are doing exercise that requires a sudden burst of activity. Sprinting is an example.


  • Pain in the buttocks when moving the leg. Sometimes the pain extends into the lower back.

  • Tenderness in the buttocks.

  • Stiffness or weakness of the buttocks.

  • Bruising.


To decide if you have gluteal strain, a caregiver will probably:

  • Ask what symptoms you have.

  • Ask about the location of your pain, when it started, and when it occurs.

  • Review your overall health.

  • Physically examine the buttocks muscles.

  • Have you do some hip motion exercises. They are called range of motion exercises. You will move your leg in specific ways, sometimes with the caregiver pushing against your leg. This will show where the pain is coming from.

  • Order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. This machine uses a magnet and a computer to take pictures of your muscles and tendons. This can help find the cause of your pain. It also may show how severe the strain is. Your strain may be rated:

  • Grade 1 strain (mild): Muscles are stretched. There might be very tiny tears. This type of strain should heal in about a week.

  • Grade 2 strain (moderate): Muscles are partly torn. It may take one to two months to heal.

  • Grade 3 strain (more severe): Muscles are ruptured (completely torn). This is rare with gluteal muscles. A severe strain can take more than three months to heal. A severe stain may require surgery, but this is rare.


Several treatment methods can be used. Be sure to discuss the options with your caregiver. They include:

  • Rest. Take a break from the activity that caused the injury.

  • Cold packs. Applying cold to your buttocks may ease swelling and pain.

  • Pain medication. Only take over-the-counter medicines for pain and discomfort as directed by your caregiver.

  • Physical therapy. You will work on specific exercises to get the gluteal muscles back in shape. These exercises usually involve stretching. A physical therapist can show you what to do and what not to do as you heal.


  • Take any pain medication suggested by your healthcare provider. Follow the directions carefully.

  • Use cold packs as directed by your healthcare provider or physical therapist.

  • If you have physical therapy, follow through with the therapist's suggestions. Be sure you understand the exercises you will be doing, including:

  • How often the exercises should be done.

  • How many times each exercise should be repeated.

  • How long they should be done.

  • Oother activities you should or should not do.

  • Learn as much as you can about training for your sport or exercise. This should help you avoid future muscle strains.


  • Pain, stiffness, or weakness gets worse.

  • You have questions about any medications.