The muscles of the buttocks/gluteal region are many and varied and include the large ‘gluts’ as well as smaller, deeper muscles like piriformis which help to move and stabilize the pelvis. For some, these muscles can become troubled by excessive movement, trauma, or postural habits. This can occasionally become a problem for some people; causing back pain, hip pain, and even the experience of pain, tension or numbness through the buttock, hips, legs and feet.
One simple stretch to relieve tension from the area we call the “Hip Pretzel” in the Core Yoga program. Also referred to as the “Thread the Needle” or “Figure 4” this simple stretch will help relieve tension in the buttocks and often reduce tension and pain in the referring regions of the low back, hips and legs.
To begin: lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh with your foot firmly flexed, then reach your arms around the left thigh (your right arm will “thread” between your thighs” and draw the left thigh towards you. You should feel a stretch deep in your right hip. Be willing to adjust the stretch as you need to in order to get into the right spots for you. If you feel any stretch or tension in your knee, be sure that your foot is flexed, and reduce your intensity.
To deepen: if you are quite flexible you can deepen the stretch by straightening your left leg, reaching over your shin to catch the back of your calf. No matter how you do the pose, however, be sure that your head, neck and shoulders are resting comfortably on the ground.
Take 5-25 deep breaths, consciously reaching into the body and asking it to relax. Then switch sides.
This stretch can be practiced a few times a day, and is also ideal after a big walk, run, cycle, or a long period of standing.
Note: If you have persistent pain, please see a qualified health professional.