When you exercise, you almost always abduct, extend and/or externally rotate your hips. Therefore, you can be certain that your body will recruit at least one of the three muscles that make up your gluteals, the buttock muscles. However, if you forget to stretch or put yourself through a very vigorous workout, be prepared to experience some pain. This pain is referred to as myofascial trigger points. It is a neuromuscular reaction to exercise that can be treated with myofascial release.
Anatomy of the Gluteal Muscles
The gluteals is a muscle group comprised of the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three, while the minimus is the smallest. Their origins expand from the iliac crest and lower sacrum to the middle of the ilium, or hip bone. The maximus inserts into the iliotibial tract while the medius and minimus insert into the upper and lateral anterior portions of the femur, or leg bone. Together, they abduct, extend and laterally, or externally, rotate the hips. In general, common trigger points of the gluteals reside along the origin of the muscles.
Trigger points are contraction knots located at dysfunctional points of the myofascial system, the muscles and their surrounding fascia. Trigger points can manifest from repetitive moving exercises, like running; when activity is performed with incorrect posture; when there is skeletal misalignment; or from a lack of stretching. The pain can also manifest from activity that your muscles have not adapted to, like increasing your weight load or repetition too aggressively and too fast. Regardless of the methodology you choose, myofascial release is necessary to deactivate the trigger points, restore normal function and relieve pain to the buttock area.
Myofascial release is a manual form of therapy focused on treating the myofascial system. Although there are numerous forms of myofascial release techniques, they do tend to be population specific. Some are very aggressive and are for active individuals, while others are passive and gentle. Currently, the foam roller has gained popularity as it is an easy and inexpensive way to self-treat. Stretching or yoga in a heated room is another way to self-treat. However if your trigger points are extreme, see a bodyworker. Manual myofascial release cannot be compared to a foam roller or yoga.
If you decide to self-treat, pay attention to painful areas. These are the areas that need the most work. If you use a foam roller, treat your iliotibial band, the tendon down the side of your upper leg. Treating the iliotibial band will help release most of your gluteal trigger points. If you do yoga, do double pigeon. Sit on the floor with your left shin stacked on top of your right. Flex your ankles and bend forward. You will feel a deep stretch all around your hip. Switch the stack of your shins to do the other side.
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