If you have pain in your buttocks area when you run, there is a good chance that you are suffering from piriformis syndrome. Buttocks pain often involves a muscle, the piriformis, that is located deep in the body and can be difficult to treat. Here are some tips about how to treat piriformis syndrome.
Causes of Buttocks Pain
Piriformis syndrome often happens when runners run on slanted surfaces (such as very curved roads or beaches) too often. It can also occur by including too much down hill running in training. I have also found that tight hip flexors and hamstrings can cause buttocks pain because, when these muscles are tight, a runner’s stride is altered, which puts stress on the piriformis muscle.
How to Treat and Cure Piriformis Syndrome
RICE: RICE stands or “rest, ice, compression, and elevation”. It is the default treatment for essentially any running injury. The first letter, “R”, is perhaps the most important. If you are feeling buttocks pain, don’t try to tough it out! Take at least two days off and give your body a chance to heal! As for the last three letters, the piriformis muslce is a difficult muscle to ice, compress, and elevate. However, the best way to ice is probably to buy or make a bag of crushed ice and place the bag on the affected area for 10 minutes, take the bag off for 10 minutes, and place the bag back on the area for 10 minutes. Try to do this at least 2-3 times per day.
NSAIDs: “NSAID” stands for Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug. NSAIDs include Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Motrin IB), Naproxen (Aleve). NSAIDs do a great job at reducing inflammation in the body and promoting healing of your buttocks pain. While these drugs may help you if you are hurt, please be careful not to abuse the drugs. Only take them for about a 2 week period because extended use can really do bad things to your kidneys. I have heard some horror stories about runners who used NSAIDs for months on end who are now suffering from serious kidney issues. Therefore, make sure to use NSAIDs if you have a shin splint problem, but please don’t overuse them.
LIGHT stretching: As your piriformis starts to feel better, try to mix in some light stretching. Be very careful not to overstretch the area. One good way to stretch the piriformis is, while laying on your back put a tennis ball under your the area and gentle roll the affected muscle over the ball. Try to find a knot in the muscle and let the ball sink into the knot. Please realize that this can be quite painful, but it is often necessary to smooth out the tight muscle. Think of it has a cheap deep massage. Also make sure to adequately stretch your hip flexors, hamstrings, and quadriceps muscles because, as a I stated before, if those muscles are tight, they can cause buttocks pain.
See a professional: To be honest, if you really want to cure a bad piriformis syndrome problem, stop reading this and go see a professional sports medicine physician and/or a physical therapist as soon as possible. Also consider seeing a good massage therapist. Sometimes massage therapist can work wonders in breaking up knots and scar tissue in the piriformis muscle, which gives the muscle a chance to heal. These health professionals can help you get back to running far quicker than any advice that I can offer you.
Keep a running log: Although a running log will not cure an injury, it can help you discover why an injury occurred. By tracking your workouts, you will be able to find errors in your training (i.e. not taking enough rest) that cause injuries to happen. Without the help of a running log, it is highly likely that you will continually repeat past training errors and suffer future injuries. The best way to start keeping a log is to sign up for a Runner’s Resource online running log.
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