Do you feel a tightness, pinching, or soreness in your bum? Are your hips aching? How about your knees, lower back, and hamstrings? There’s one possible common denominator here: tight glutes. Tightness in your glutes can lead to pain and tightness in any of the aforementioned areas. So, taking care of your backside is important for your overall mobility, comfort, and performance.
Let’s get into the causes of tight glutes and how you can address them.
What Can Lead to Tight Glutes?
Tightness in these muscles can be caused by a number of factors. The most common culprit? Sitting too much. Excessive sitting leads to the muscles of your hip flexors getting tighter. Tighter hip flexors and weak glutes (or pain in your glutes) go hand in hand.
Psst? Want to learn more about excessive sitting? Read our blog to learn how much sitting is too much.
Other possible causes of tight glute muscles are:
- Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
- Improper/insufficient warm-ups and cool-downs.
- Poor posture.
- Poor form while training.
- Injury in a connected body part (like your hips or knees).
What are the Symptoms of Tight Glutes?
In addition to tightness, pain, and soreness in the glutes, tight glute muscles could also manifest in any of the following areas:
- Hips/hip flexors.
- Lower back.
This could mean pain, tenderness, immobility, or instability.
What’s challenging about addressing tight glute muscles is that the area can actually be sensitive to touch. If you reach around right now and apply pressure to your glute with your fingers, you might find yourself flinching in pain.
So, how can you alleviate tightness in your glutes in an effective but gentle way?
5 Stretches for Tight Glutes
There are a number of stretches and exercises you can do to loosen those muscles up. The first idea we want to throw out there: Stand more! If your tightness is indeed a result of excessive sitting, then simply standing up once an hour for even five minutes can make a world of difference.
Beyond that, here are a few suggestions.
1. Figure Four Stretch
This is low-impact and doesn’t require you to physically touch your glutes, so it’s great if that area is feeling extra sensitive.
All you do to get into this position is cross one ankle over the opposite knee. From there, you simply fold at the hips to bring your legs toward your upper body.
You can do the figure four stretch laying down, sitting in a chair, and standing. To perform it sitting, cross your leg over and lean your torso forward. To do it standing, just bend your back leg and sit your hips back to feel that stretch.
2. Pigeon Pose
“I don’t do yoga,” you’re saying. Hold that thought.
While this stretch may have started on the yoga mat, there’s a reason why it’s a warm-up staple in gyms around the world: It’s really good at releasing tight glutes and hips.
Get situated on a mat on your hands and knees. Bring one knee toward the hand on that same side. Flatten your shin on the floor with the ankle reaching the opposite hand. Extend the other leg back. It’s going to look like this:
To make this more challenging, gently push that front foot forward. You can also increase the difficulty by folding forward so that your upper body goes toward the floor.
Here’s your friendly reminder not to push it too much! While you should feel a stretch, you shouldn’t be in pain.
3. Seated Twist
This is one of our favorite stretches for tight glutes because it addresses your bum, hips, and back all in one fell swoop (perfect for if you have tight glute muscles causing lower back pain!).
Sit down on the ground with your core engaged and your legs extended in front of you. Bend one leg and bring it across the other, placing that foot on the floor. Gently twist at the low back. If your right leg is bent, then you should be twisting toward the right.
The goal here isn’t to crack all of the bones in your back. The stretch here should feel gentle and mild.
4. Standing Quad Stretch
Yes, tightness in the quads can eventually settle in your glutes! And because your glutes have a big job to do, if they’re too tight, havoc can really ensue.
Begin in a standing position. Starting on one side, bend that leg at the knee and grab that foot with your hand. You should feel a stretch along the front of the bent leg.
To make this stretch more intense, think of pushing the knee of your bent leg back. That’ll force those muscles to stretch just a little bit further.
5. Glute-Specific Foam Rolling
These stretches for tight glutes are a safe place to start. Foam rolling is also going to be your best friend.
Sit on the foam roller and cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Roll out that side of your glutes before switching to the other.
Don’t just focus on your glutes, though. Pay special attention to all of the areas we mentioned, rolling out your hamstrings, the sides of your legs, your calves, and flipping over to roll out your quads.
Remember, if this is too intense, you can work your way up to it. Or, simply remove a little of your own body weight by pushing off your hands or feet.
Tight glutes are going to need a little extra TLC. But if you spend time playing around with foam rolling and the glute stretches we gave you, you might notice an almost immediate improvement.
Did you enjoy this blog? Keep going! Check out our article with our five favorite glute exercises.