Your hip joints and lower back may ache for many hours after a long run or after climbing several flights of stairs. When rest and soaking in a hot bath aren't enough, stretching your buttocks -- particularly the gluteus medius -- can alleviate muscle stiffness and open up your hip joints. This muscle, which is beneath the gluteus maximus, extends from the top of your pelvis down to the top of your thigh bone. Since the gluteus medius shares many nerves and fasciae with other muscles in your hip and lower back, it is better to stretch all the muscles together rather than try to isolate just this one muscle. Find a quiet spot where you can relax before stretching.
Prone Glute Stretch
Sit on the floor with bent knees. Extend your left leg behind you so your left thigh, shin and the top of the left foot are on the floor. Move your bent right leg to the right so that your right outer thigh rests on the floor.
Exhale slowly as you bend your torso forward to rest your ribs on top of your inner thigh. Place your hands or your forearms and elbows on the floor in front of your right lower leg.
Hold the stretch in your glutes for five to six deep breaths. Switch leg position and repeat the stretch on the opposite hip.
Wall Glute Strech
Lie on the floor on your back and put your feet against a wall with your feet and knees about hip-distance apart. Your knees and hip joints should be bent at about 90 degrees. Put your arms out to your sides.
Cross your right ankle across your left thigh near your kneecap. Push your right knee toward the wall without using your hand to stretch your right glutes.
Hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths. Repeat the stretch on the opposite hip.
Seated Spinal Twist
Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you with your knees extended and your legs together. Sit with your spine upright.
Cross your right foot over your left thigh and put your foot on the floor just left of your left knee or your thigh, depending on your flexibility.
Place your left hand on your right knee and the right hand on the floor behind you and near your right buttock. Exhale slowly as you turn your torso, shoulders and neck to your right. Look over your right shoulder.
Hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths while keeping your spine upright. Switch the leg position and repeat the stretch on the other side.
- You can give yourself a self-massage by placing your gluteus medius on top of a foam roller, which is a foot-long cylinder made out of a dense styrofoam. The pressure should be gentle enough to massage the muscle but not too deep to cause major discomfort or pain. Roll carefully back and forth along your entire gluteal region, not just the gluteus medius, until the tenderness subsides.
- If you experience pain in your hip or lower back as you stretch, check with your health-care provider before starting or resuming any exercise routine.
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.