A strained gluteal muscle is a partial or complete tear of the small fibers of the gluteal muscles. The gluteal muscles are a group of three muscles in the buttocks.
Gluteal strain is not a common sports injury. Treatment depends on the severity of the strain.
Posterior Hip and Thigh Muscles
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A gluteal strain can be caused by:
- Stretching the gluteal muscles beyond the amount of tension that they can withstand
- Suddenly putting stress on the gluteal muscles when they are not ready for the stress
- Using the gluteal muscles too much on a certain day
- A direct blow to the gluteal muscles
Factors that may increase your chance of getting gluteal strain include:
- Participation in sports that require bursts of speed. This includes track sports like running, hurdles, or long jump. Other sports include basketball, soccer, football, or rugby.
- Previous gluteal injury.
- Tight gluteal muscles.
Symptoms may include:
- Pain and tenderness in the buttocks
- Stiffness in the gluteal muscles
- Weakness of the gluteal muscles
- Bruising on the buttocks
The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Most gluteal strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam. Your doctor may want images of the area if severe damage is suspected. Images may be taken with
Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:
- Grade 1—Some stretching with micro-tearing of muscle fibers.
- Grade 2—Partial tearing of muscle fibers.
- Grade 3—Complete tearing of muscle fibers. This may also be called a rupture or avulsion.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:
Your muscle will need time to heal. Avoid activities that place extra stress on these muscles:
- Do not do activities that cause pain. This includes running, jumping, and weight lifting using the leg muscles.
- If normal walking hurts, shorten your stride.
- Do not play sports until your doctor has said it is safe to do so.
Apply an ice or a cold pack to the area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day, for several days after the injury. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel.
To manage pain, your doctor may recommend:
- Over-the-counter medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen
- Topical pain medication—creams or patches that are applied to the skin
- Prescription pain relievers
Use heat only when you are returning to physical activity. Heat may then be used before stretching or getting ready to play sports to help loosen the muscle.
When the acute pain is gone, start gentle stretching as recommended. Stay within pain limits. Hold each stretch for about 10 seconds and repeat six times. Stretch several times a day.
Begin strengthening exercises for your muscles as recommended.
If you are diagnosed with a gluteal strain, follow your doctor's
To reduce the chance that you will strain a gluteal muscle:
- Keep your gluteal muscles strong so they can absorb the energy of sudden physical stress.
- Learn the proper technique for exercise and sporting activities. This will decrease stress on all your muscles, including your gluteal muscles.
Muscle strains in the thigh.
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Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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