Got Your Gluteal Muscle Pulled? Know the Signs & Treatments

We use our gluteal muscles when running, squatting and performing athletic tasks. These muscles take in a lot of tension and sometimes the contractions could be too much for the muscles hence causing a strain. This is known as gluteal strain or pulled gluteal muscle and it’s characterized by the tearing of one or multiple gluteal muscles.


Grades of Pulled Gluteal Muscle

There are different ways in which a pulled gluteal muscle is classified and these range from grade one to three. Most pulled gluteal muscle patients suffer from grade 2 tears.

  • Grade One: Consists of a small tear of the fibers and this is usually accompanied by some pain. However, the muscles still have their full functions.
  • Grade Two: This features a couple of torn gluteal fibers and this is usually very painful. It is also accompanied by some loss of function though moderate.
  • Grade Three: Grade three pulled gluteal muscle is extreme and this happens when all the muscle fibers have been ruptured, leading to complete loss of function within the muscles.

Causes and Risk Factors of Pulled Gluteal Muscle

Various factors could contribute to pulled gluteal muscle.


Gluteal strains are common with athletes engaged in sports such as rugby, basketball, football, soccer as well as athletic sports such as sprinting, long jumps and hurdles. They are also quite common in weight training as well and this is because these sports include a lot of jumping and running. The major cause of a gluteal strain would be sudden contractions on the gluteal muscles when in a stretched position. Usually, this will occur due to excess stress and weight with exercises like lunges or squats. Explosive jumps which are frequent in basketball and rapid acceleration of the muscle function experienced when running uphill are likely causes of gluteal strain.

It’s important to note that these strains are more common in older athletes and persons who fail to have adequate warm up sessions before taking up such activities. The strain could also be caused by an injury on the gluteal muscle and could be a high impact blow on one of the muscles.

Risk Factors

There are certain factors that increase your likelihood of developing pulled gluteal muscle. Some of these risk factors include: over exertion of the gluteal muscles, fatigue and a previous injury on the same muscles. People with tight gluteal muscles also have a higher likelihood of developing a strain. Athletes are also susceptible to suffering from pulled gluteal muscle and this is because their sports require a lot of energy exertion and sudden bursts of speed.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Pulled Gluteal Muscle


There are various symptoms of pulled gluteal muscle and one of the major signs is a sharp pain on the buttock area. The patient may also experience mild muscle pulls and some strain which could develop in to pain especially when performing exercises such as squatting, jumping or even simply sitting down. Activities that contract the gluteal muscles such as squeezing the buttocks could also bring about these pulling and painful sensations. Common symptoms include muscle pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, bruising, swelling and weakness in the gluteal area. These symptoms tend to increase when stretching the gluteal muscles or exerting pressure even when touching.


When diagnosing pulled gluteal muscle, the doctor will first try to identify the symptoms while having a look at your medical history. Usually, a physical exam is conducted and imaging tests may be required to confirm the diagnosis. Imaging tests also help ascertain the extent of the damage especially the damage is suspected to be severe. CT scan, MRI scan, x-rays and ultrasound machines could be used in diagnosis

Treatment and Prevention of Pulled Gluteal Muscle

Acute Care

  1. Rest. Avoid applying excess pressure on the gluteal muscles. Rest allows the muscles to heal faster.
  2. Cold Compress. Cold packs could be used to help relieve the swelling. However, do not directly apply the ice on the skin. Instead use a towel or cold pack.
  3. Pain Killers. Over-the-counter and prescription pain killers can help reduce the pain and inflammation. There are topical pain medications that you can buy.

Recovery Care

  1. Heat. Heat is used only when the patient resumes physical activity. Heat is normally used along with stretching exercises as it helps relieve tension from the muscles.
  2. Mild Stretching. Mild stretching exercises could be incorporated with recovery care. Some of the exercises you can take up include:
  • Hip Flexion


Lie flat on your back and bring your knees up folding them up to your chest. Hold the back of your thighs as you pull one knee to the chest then the other. Hold on to this for about half a minute. Repeat the exercise three times.

  • Gluteal Stretch


Lie flat on your back and bend both knees. Place the ankle of the injured leg over your other knee and hold your injured leg’s thigh. Slowly pull it toward the chest of the uninjured side. Hold this position for 15 seconds and repeat the exercise three times.

  • Gluteal Sets


Lie flat on your stomach and squeeze the gluteal muscles for five seconds.

3. Strengthening Exercises

  • Prone Hip Extension


Place a pillow under the hips and lie flat in your stomach. Bend your injured side’s knee and draw in your bellow button as you tighten the abdominal muscles. Lift the bent leg six inches off the floor and maintain a straight position on the other leg. Hold onto this position for five seconds.

  • Resisted Hip Extension


Tie an elastic tube on the ankle of the injured leg and place the other end on the door. Shut the door and draw your abdomen toward the spine as you tighten the abdominal muscles. Keep the leg straight and ensure that you do not lean forward while you perform the exercise.

  • Resisted Hip Abduction


Stand in a sideways position keeping the injured side away from the door. Tie an elastic tube on the injured leg’s ankle and slowly pull the ankle from the door ensuring that you keep the leg straight.

  • Lunge


Lunges are simple exercises. Simply stand straight and make a forward leap with one leg. As you deep the knee to the floor, bend the back leg and step it back to its previous position.


Prevention is always better than cure. You can always prevent gluteal muscle strains by decreasing the stress you apply on these muscles. Keeping the gluteal muscles strong helps them absorb the tension exerted with physical exercises. It also helps to conduct these exercises correctly to reduce the amount of stress you place on the muscles.