Dr. Phil Shares: Top 8 Gluteal Stretches for Buttock Pain

8 of the Best Glute Stretches for Buttock Pain

Tight glutes: in theory, we want them. We spend hours squatting and lunging to get a taut, lifted booty. But a rear that actually feels tight is, well…a pain in the butt. A sore buttocks makes it tough to sit, stand, and walk. It leaves you hobbling like a cowboy, searching for the best glute stretches to ease discomfort so you can go down stairs like a normal person, not a rodeo star.

Why are my glutes tight?

When it comes to buttock pain, intense lower body exercise can cause soreness in the gluteus maximus muscle. But daily activities tend to cause soreness in a different (and probably lesser-known) butt muscle, explains Beachbody expert Cody Braun. “The issue is often in the piriformis muscle (located deep underneath the glute muscles), which helps to externally rotate the femur and aids in abduction when the hip is flexed (drawing the leg away from the body’s midline),” he says. When this muscle becomes tight – whether from sitting too much or from a challenging leg workout – piriformis stretches can help restore the muscle to its full, functional length, help relieve butt pain, and restore hip mobility.

Mobility vs. flexibility

While often used interchangeably, “flexibility” and “mobility” are a different concepts. So if you think you want flexible glutes, you might actually need mobile hips – and vice versa. “Mobility refers to the degree and quality in which you actively move your joints through their full ranges of motion,” Braun explains. For example, someone with full ankle and hip mobility can easily move in and out of a full squat position, while a person with poor mobility may struggle or make compensations in other areas of the body.

Flexibility is usually expressed by the ability to completely lengthen your muscle,” Braun says. When a gymnast drops into the splits? That’s flexibility. And you can bet that she’s spent hours of her life holding static stretches. Both concepts are important when it comes to stretching your glutes, which is why the following glute stretches can help you achieve better hip mobility and flexibility.

8 Glute Stretches to Relieve Buttock Pain

Don’t let a sore buttocks get you down: here’s how to stretch your glutes (and relieve piriformis soreness), so you can walk, run, and move about your day with ease.

1. Seated Leg Cradle

Appears in: Beachbody Yoga Studio – Hip Opening Flow with Faith

This seated glute stretch will help alleviate sore glutes, no matter how tight they are from the previous day’s training. There are a few variations of this stretch, depending on how much flexibility and mobility you have in your glutes and hips.

  • Start in a seated position with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Draw your right knee toward your chest and cradle the lower leg by placing the right knee in the crook of the right elbow and the sole of the right foot in the crook of the left elbow.
  • Flex your right foot and keep your spine straight and your chest lifted as you gently rock your leg from left to right. You should feel this in your right hip and glute area.
  • Hold for 30 seconds before releasing your leg and repeating the stretch on the opposite side.
  • You can modify the intensity of the stretch by holding your knee and foot with your hands or scooping both elbows under your calf muscle and drawing your leg toward your chest

2. Cradle Knee Hug, Prayer Hands

Appears in: FOCUS: T25 – Stretch

In addition to providing a deep stretch for the glutes, piriformis, and hips, this two-part standing glute stretch will challenge your balance and build strength in the standing leg.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right knee so you can hold the lower part of your right leg: hold your right knee with your right hand and the outer part of your right foot with your left hand. Keep your back tall.
  • Hold the balance for two to three breaths.
  • Next, place your right ankle just above your left knee as you slowly bend your left leg, hinging at your hips as you lower your butt. Press the palms of your hands together in a prayer position. Press your right knee down toward the ground to intensify the stretch.
  • Hold this position, then return to a standing position and switching legs.

3. Pigeon

Appears in: Jericho’s BOD Exclusives – Half and Half

One of the best glute and piriformis stretches for runners, yogis, and desk jockeys alike, pigeon help to open your hips in a calm, restful position. This is most comfortable to do on a cushiony surface, like a yoga mat.

  • Begin in a downward-facing dog position. Lower your hips as you draw your right knee toward your chest and, with your knee bent, place your thigh and shin in front of you on the mat. Depending on your level of flexibility, you can keep your right foot close to your left hip or bring your shin forward so that it’s parallel to the front edge of your mat.
  • Make sure both hips are facing forward and your back leg is engaged (you can keep it straight or bend your knee, creating a 90-degree angle).
  • Leading with your chest, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your glutes and hip area. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Return to downward-facing dog and repeat the stretch with your left leg

4. Figure 4 thread the needle

Appears in: Beachbody Yoga Studio – Strong but Simple Flow with Vytas

If tight hips are really limiting your mobility, this move may be a more accessible option than other glute stretches. Place your hands under the hamstring for a lighter stretch until your can work your way up to the more challenging option of placing the hands on your knee.

  • Lie on your back with the soles of your feet on the floor.
  • Cross your right ankle over your left knee, keeping your right foot flexed.
  • Draw your left knee toward your chest and, reaching your right hand through your legs, interlace your fingers just below your left knee (under your left hamstring for a less intense stretch).
  • Use your arms to pull your knee toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your right hip and glute area, and hold.
  • Release the stretch and repeat on the left side.

5. Seated figure 4

Appears in: A Little Obsessed –AAA

A simple but effective seated glute stretch, the seated figure 4 targets the glutes and piriformis. It’s easy to make this stretch more or less intense, depending on how close you bring your chest to your legs.

  • Sit with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor.
  • Lean back slightly and place your hands on the floor behind your hips to provide support and balance.
  • Lift your right leg and place your right ankle just above your left knee.
  • Press your hands into the floor to bring your chest toward your knees until you feel a stretch in your right hip and glutes, and hold.
  • Release the stretch and repeat on the opposite side.

6. Prone happy cow

Appears in: 21 Day Fix Extreme –Yoga

This yoga pose might look advanced, but it’s fairly easy to get into, and it does wonders for easing tension on both glute muscles at the same time.

  • Lie on your back and draw your knees toward your chest.
  • Cross your right knee over your left and grab hold of your heels: your right hand should be holding your left heel, and your left hand should be holding your right heel.
  • Pull your heels toward you until you feel a stretch in your hip and glute area, and hold.
  • Release and repeat the stretch with the opposite leg crossed on top.

7. Cow face

Appears in: TurboFire – Stretch 40

A favorite glute stretch for yoga devotees, this seated glute stretch can help ease lower back pain while it opens the hips.

  • Starting in a seated position, bend your left leg so that your left foot comes to the right side of your hips and that your knee is facing forward.
  • Cross your right leg over the left so that your knees are stacked on top of each other with your right foot coming to the left side of your hips. Sit up straight and make sure both glutes are firmly planted on the floor.
  • With a flat back, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your glutes, and hold.
  • Sit up and repeat, switching the position of your legs.

8. Seated figure 4 fold

Appears in: P90X3 – Yoga

Done properly, this classic seated glute stretch will also relax tense hamstrings. For the best results, be sure to hinge at your hips and avoid rounding the back.

  • Start in a seated, straight-leg position. Bend your right leg and cross your right ankle over the left thigh, creating a figure four position with your legs.
  • Keep your glutes firmly planted on the ground as you hinge at the hips and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your left hamstring and glutes. Be sure to lead with your chest and keep your back flat.
  • Hold, and then sit up and switch legs to repeat on the opposite side.

Glute Anatomy 101

You’ve probably heard the name “gluteus maximus” before (how else are you supposed to tactfully reference the butt?), but chances are the medius and minimus parts of your buttocks aren’t as familiar. And as for the troublesome piriformis muscle? That might as well have sounded like a magical spell up until now. Here’s a breakdown of the gluteal muscle anatomy, so you know exactly what makes your rear end so bootylicious.

Gluteus Maximus

When we talk booty, we’re usually referring to the gluteus maximus – it’s the a huge powerhouse and an attention-getter. It’s not only your most sizable gluteal muscle, but it’s also one of the biggest muscle in the human body. And, because it’s located close to the body’s surface, it’s responsible for the butt’s rounded shape and prominent appearance.

The gluteus maximus originates from the hip bone, and tailbone, and connects to the femur (thigh bone) and iliotibial (IT) band. It’s main job is extension, but it also aids in lateral rotation: walking, sprinting, climbing stairs, ice skating – that’s all the gluteus maximus.

Gluteus Medius

Located on the upper, outer section of your rear, the gluteus medius is tasked with abducting (lifting to the side) and rotating the leg. It also works to stabilize your pelvis while you walk or run; any dysfunction or weakness in the gluteus medius can lead to issues with your gait (how you walk and run) and problematic movement compensations.

Shaped like a fan, the gluteus medius originates at the hip bone and connects to the upper portion of the femur.

Gluteus Minimus

Like the gluteus medius, the gluteus minimus plays a role in stabilizing the pelvis and rotating the leg. It’s smallest of the three glute muscles, originating from the hip bone and connecting to the top of the femur.


The piriformis is considered a “deep” gluteal muscle. Located under the gluteus minimus and within close proximity of the sciatic nerve, the band-like piriformis originates at the sacrum and connects to the top of the femur. It also aids in lower limb abduction when the hip is flexed and lateral rotation.

Why Should You Stretch Your Glutes?

Between sitting at a desk all day, sitting in your car during rush hour traffic, and sitting on your couch during a binge of Stranger Things, what is a butt to do with the massive amounts of inactivity throughout the day? One way to counteract it is by exercising (try these butt exercises, for example). You should also incorporate butt stretches into any workout that uses the lower limbs, as they can help prevent injury, reduce soreness, and prepare the glute muscles for activity.

When Should You Do Glute Stretches?

Other than the obvious, “whenever your butt hurts,” there are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to stretching your glutes. This mainly is because that there are two kinds of stretches: dynamic (moving) and static (not moving). Both are important – it just comes down to the timing.

Dynamic stretches are best to do before a workout, as they get the muscles ready for work by contracting and stretching in order to activate the nervous system, increase blood flow, and warm up the body. They involve movement and they cycle the joints through their full range of motion. Arm circles, leg swings, and walking lunges are examples of common dynamic stretches.

On the other hand, static stretches tell your body that it’s time to relax and recover. They involve bringing a muscle to its point of tension, holding for 30 seconds, and releasing (think: bending over to grab hold of your toes). “After exercise, you want to stretch the muscle to help the recovery process,” Braun says, as it helps to relax the muscle. Static stretching is particularly important when it comes to that troublesome piriformis muscle. “Piriformis stretches should be used to restore the full functional length, which, in return, will help with hip mobility,” Braun says.

10 Steps to Changing Your Life for the Better in 2016

apple steth

Happy New Year! This year, what do you say we all skip the New Year’s resolution? About half of North Americans make them, and most start out strong but come February or March, many have already thrown in the towel.

Overall, it’s estimated that 92 percent of Americans fail to achieve the goals they commit to on New Year’s Day.1 And so, I’m proposing this instead: in place of a New Year’s resolution, make a commitment to simply live better this year.

This is an ongoing process, a lifestyle change, not an impulsive resolution that you blurted out at midnight and have all but forgotten by morning. It’s also not something you can achieve overnight. Rather, this is a plan you can live by.

10 Steps to Changing Your Life for the Better in 2016

It’s the start of a new year — what better time to start fresh with some positive changes? The 10 that follow are the crème de la crème of lifestyle tricks you can use to live better and be happier — and isn’t that really what virtually all of us are after?

Below follows a brief introduction to the 10 points I suggest you commit to this year. In the coming months, stay tuned for an updated comprehensive nutrition plan, which is scheduled for release in 2016.

It will include these points in detail along with a plethora of additional recommendations, tips, and strategies to help you live the best life possible.

And, starting next week, look for forthcoming articles in the newsletter, which will cover each of these topics in depth. Are you ready to start fresh in 2016? Then keep on reading.

1. Give Up Soda

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver damage, osteoporosis, and acid reflux are just some of the health conditions linked to soda consumption. No wonder nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say they actively try to avoid soda in their diet.2

If you’re not yet among them, commit to swapping your soda for healthier beverages like water, sparkling water, and, occasionally, tea and/or organic black coffee.

When you consume soda your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain — a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.

This explains why so many people find it difficult to give up their daily soda “fix.” But, it can be done and you’ll feel better for it.

2. Eat Two Meals a Day, Within an Eight-Hour Window

Your body probably only needs two meals a day, and eating this way allows you to restrict your eating to a window of six to eight consecutive hours each day, while avoiding food for at least three hours before bedtime.

As long as you restrict your eating to a six- to eight-hour window, and avoid eating for at least three hours before bed, you can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.

Which two meals you prefer are up to you; let your body, and your lifestyle, be your guide.

This type of intermittent fasting has numerous benefits for your health, including weight loss, disease prevention, resolving insulin resistance, optimizing your mitochondrial function, and preventing cellular damage from occurring.

3. Get Eight Hours of Sleep Each Night

I used to think I was immune to needing adequate sleep. I would routinely get less than six hours a night and thought I could function this way. But, I’ve since realized that most adults really need about eight hours of sleep every night.

What makes sleep deprivation so detrimental is that it doesn’t just impact one aspect of your health; it impacts many.

Sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness,3 which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases.

Sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye per night double their chances of dying from heart disease.4

Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep.

This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). Lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin, while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin.

The resulting increase in hunger and appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. Not to mention, poor or insufficient sleep is actually the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50.5

Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep and, thereby, better health.

If you’re not sure how much sleep you’re getting, a fitness tracker can be beneficial for helping you keep track of the actual time you’re asleep (as opposed to the time spent in bed).

If you need more sleep, I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for details on proper sleep hygiene

4. Eat More Healthy Fats and Fiber

Public health guidelines condemn healthy fats from foods like butter and full-fat dairy, and recommend whole grains and cereals — the opposite of what most people need to stay healthy.

The latest science suggests healthy fats (saturated and unsaturated fats from whole food, animal, and plant sources) should comprise anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of your overall energy intake. Healthy fat sources include coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, nuts, and animal fats.

That’s right; butter need not be shunned and, in fact, is a beneficial source of healthy saturated fats, especially when it’s raw, organic, and grass-fed. In addition to eating more healthy fats, most Americans need to eat more fiber. A high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of some of the most common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

When it comes to boosting your fiber intake, be sure to focus on eating more vegetables, nuts and seeds (not grains). Organic whole husk psyllium is a great fiber source, as are sunflower sprouts and fermented vegetables, the latter of which are essentially fiber preloaded with beneficial bacteria. Flax, hemp, and chia seeds are also excellent fiber sources.

5. Eat Fermented Vegetables

Fermented foods are potent chelators (detoxifiers) and contain much higher levels of beneficial bacteria than probiotic supplements, making them ideal for optimizing your gut flora.

In addition to helping break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from your body, beneficial gut bacteria perform a number of surprising functions, including helping with mineral absorption and producing nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K2. They may also play a role in:

  • Preventing obesity and diabetes, and regulating dietary fat absorption
  • Lowering your risk for cancer
  • Improving your mood and mental health
  • Preventing acne

In the US, imbalances in gut flora are widespread due to diets high in sugar and processed foods as well as exposure to antibiotics, both in medicine and via CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) meats in your diet.

The solution is simple — in addition to cutting back on sugar and antibiotics, consuming fermented foods will give your gut health a complete overhaul, helping to clear out pathogenic varieties and promoting the spread of healing, nourishing microorganisms instead.

Just one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health. You can even start a new tradition by getting together with friends and family to make big batches of fermented vegetables together.

6. Sit Less and Walk More, Work on Your Flexibility

On average, a U.S. adult spends nine to 10 hours each day sitting,6 which is so much inactivity that even a 30- or 60-minute workout can’t counteract its effects.7

While it might seem natural to sit this long since you’ve probably grown used to it (physically and mentally), it’s actually quite contrary to nature. Studies looking at life in agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day.

Your body is made to move around and be active the majority of the day, and significant negative changes occur when you spend the majority of the day sedentary instead.

Setting a goal of taking 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five miles, or 6 to 9 kilometers) can go a long way toward getting more movement and less sitting into your life. This should be over and above any exercise regimen you may have.

In addition, stand up at work if you can, rather than sitting at your desk. Meanwhile, make it a point to gain flexibility, which will help keep you functional well into old age. Pilates, yoga, and whole body vibration training are options to help increase your flexibility.

7. Have Your Vitamin D Level Tested

It’s incredibly easy to boost your vitamin D levels, so there’s no reason to put your health at risk from low status. Yet, researchers such as Dr. Michael Holick estimate that 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. If you’re among them, your risk of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and other chronic disorders may be significantly increased.

In a study of more than 100 people, those with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, regardless of their weight.8

Dementia is also directly linked to vitamin D. Seniors who have low vitamin D levels may double their risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.9 As noted by the authors, “This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of vitamin D in nonskeletal conditions.” Incidence of several types of cancer could also be slashed in half if more people increased their vitamin D levels.

One of Dr. Holick’s studies showed that healthy volunteers taking 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day for a few months upregulated 291 different genes that control up to 80 different metabolic processes.

This included improving DNA repair to having effect on autoxidation (oxidation that occurs in the presence of oxygen and /or UV radiation, which has implications for aging and cancer, for example), boosting your immune system, and many other biological processes.

If you don’t know what your vitamin D level is, get tested. The vitamin D test you’re looking for is called 25(OH)D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D. This is the officially recognized marker of overall D status and is most strongly associated with overall health.

The other vitamin D test available, called 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25[OH]D), is not very useful for determining vitamin D sufficiency. While sunlight is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D, winter and working indoors prevent more than 90 percent of those reading this article from achieving ideal levels.

A high-quality tanning bed is your next best option, but if your circumstances don’t allow you to access the sun or a high-quality tanning bed, then you really only have one option if you want to raise your vitamin D, and that is to take a vitamin D3 supplement.

Regular testing is crucial in this case to keep your level within the optimal range. If you live in the U.S., January and February are ideal months to find out if you’re vitamin D levels are low.

vitamin d levels

8. Eat Nutrient-Dense Protein (Quality not Quantity)

Protein is essential for your health as it’s a structural component of enzymes, cellular receptors, signaling molecules, and a main building block for your muscles and bones. But, eating excessive amounts of protein could actually be worse than eating too many carbs. Excessive protein can stimulate two biochemical pathways that accelerate aging and cancer growth.

For optimal health, I believe most adults need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass (not total body weight), or 0.5 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. In this formula, you must first determine your lean body mass. To do that, subtract your percent body fat from 100. For example, if you have 30 percent body fat, then you have 70 percent lean body mass.

Then multiply that percentage (in this case 0.7) by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos. As an example, if you weigh 170 pounds; 0.7 multiplied by 170 equals 119 pounds of lean body mass. Using the “0.5 gram of protein” rule, you would need just under 60 grams of protein per day. Substantial amounts of protein can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts.

The quality of the meat you eat is just as important as the quantity. As a general rule, the only meat I recommend eating is pastured, grass-fed, and grass-finished, ideally organically raised meats (and of course, the same goes for dairy and eggs). Wild-caught Alaskan salmon and sardines are also excellent protein sources.

You can also get plenty of protein from plant foods. Consider hemp seeds (hemp hearts), chia seeds, spirulina, sprouts, and bee pollen, for instance.

9. Meditate for 5 to 10 Minutes a Day

Stress-related problems, including back pain, insomnia, acid reflux, and exacerbations to irritable bowel syndrome may account for up to 70 percent of the average US physician’s caseload.10 Such health-care expenditures are the third highest in the US, after only heart disease and cancer. New research suggests, however, that such costs could be cut drastically simply by becoming more relaxed.11

Both meditation and mindfulness are excellent for stress relief and relaxation, as are prayer, keeping a gratitude journal, and the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).   One simple way to incorporate such relaxation techniques into your life is to meditate first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed, to take advantage of your mind being in a quiet zone.

10. Help Others and Be Active in Your Community

Volunteering is a simple way to help others, but it’s also a powerful way to help yourself. Beyond the good feelings you’ll get from donating your time, and the potential to develop new, meaningful relationships with people in your community, volunteering has a significant impact on your physical health, including a boost to your heart health.

In one study, people who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who did not.12 People who volunteer for altruistic reasons, i.e. to help others rather than themselves, may even live longer than those who volunteer for more self-centered reasons.13

The benefits of being active in your community are particularly pronounced among older adults, a population that tends to slow down once retirement hits. There’s a definite social aspect, as if you’re socially isolated you may experience poorer health and a shorter lifespan.

Volunteering also gives you a sense of purpose and can even lead to a so-called “helper’s high,” which may occur because doing good releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol.

Giving back is about so much more than even that, though, as it will help you to connect with your community and contribute your time and/or talents to promoting the greater good.

Remember, most New Year’s resolutions do fail for one reason or another. So this year, try making a simple commitment to live healthier from here on out. Start slow and small as little changes can make a huge overall difference in your health. And, when you commit to a lifestyle, it’s no longer about meeting a particular goal, like losing 10 pounds. It’s about living a little bit differently, a little bit better, so that ultimately you’re happier and healthier for it.

By Dr. Mercola @  http://www.mercola.com

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health