Glutes

7 Best Glute Stretches For Lower Back Pain Relief

glute stretches for lower back pain

Tight glutes can lead to a host of issues like aches and pains in your lower back muscles and a limited range of motion in your hips and pelvis.  


Recommended Reading – 7 Effective Gluteus Medius Exercises To Strengthen Glutes


If you want to discover some of the most effective glute stretches for lower back pain, then keep reading.  

Before we get to the stretches, it’s important to understand more about the causes and effects of why your glute muscles are tight and the importance of strengthening these large muscle groups to provide pain relief and prevent the onset of lower back pain.  

Why Do Tight Glutes Result In Lower Back Pain

Your glutes and lower back muscles work together to support your body’s movements and help to maintain stability.  

When one of these muscle groups becomes tight or weak, it can lead to muscle imbalances that contribute to poor posture which in turn results in lower back tension

When your glutes are tight, they can pull your pelvis down into a posterior pelvic tilt position, which can cause the lumbar spine to round leading to lower back problems.  

On the other hand, if your pelvis is tilting too far forward (anterior pelvic tilt) your body may compensate for this by subconsciously tightening the glutes to bring the pelvis into a more neutral position. 

In either case, this tightening of the muscles can compress nerves such as the sciatic nerve which can cause issues like chronic back pain, sciatica, or piriformis syndrome.  

Now that we know why a tightness to your glutes and surrounding muscles causes low back pain, let’s find out why your glutes are tight in the first place.  

The primary cause of tightness in your gluteal muscles is leading a sedentary lifestyle.  

Let’s say you spend long periods of time in a seated position when working at a desk or driving.

Doing this can result in a shortening of your hip flexor muscles which causes your glute muscles to weaken.  

This occurs because the hip flexors are in a constantly contracted state while you are seated, which can lead to imbalances in both muscle length and tension.

As a result, the opposing gluteal muscles can become lengthened and weak, causing them to lose their ability to effectively contract and engage during movement.

This phenomenon is often referred to as “gluteal amnesia” or “dead butt syndrome,” where the glute muscles essentially “switch off” due to prolonged inactivity.

Best Glute Stretches For Lower Back Pain

Keeping your glute muscles strong is one of the best ways to stabilize your hips and pelvis and ensure proper alignment of your spine.  

This will involve strength-based exercises designed to target your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and minimus muscles.  

Resistance training or weight-bearing activities involve the contraction of the glute muscles for increased strength and muscle mass.  

However, for a muscle to contract, it needs to stretch first.  

When your glute muscles are tight, they remain in a contracted position, this is one of the reasons for not feeling it in your glute muscles when performing certain glute-focused exercises like squats or hip thrusts.  

With the above in mind, let’s now get to our glute stretching exercises below.  

If you have any pre-existing issues, please seek advice from a physical therapist or similar medical professional before attempting any of the following stretches.  

The pigeon pose is one of the best yoga poses for relieving tension to tight piriformis and gluteal muscles, enhancing flexibility, and loosening up the muscles.  

As well as offering a good stretch to your glutes, it’s also a great way of alleviating tight hip flexors making it one of the best glute stretches for lower back pain.  

pigeon pose

Instructions:

  1. Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees.
  2. Bring your right knee forward, placing it behind your right wrist while angling your right foot towards the left hip.
  3. Extend your left leg straight back, keeping your hips square to the ground.
  4. Gently lower your upper body down over your right leg, supporting yourself with your arms as much as needed.  Move slowly to avoid muscle strain. 
  5. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.

This stretch not only targets your glutes and piriformis but also promotes spinal flexibility and mobility allowing for a greater range of motion to your overall back.  

While it allows for gentle stretching of the glute muscles and is an affective piriformis stretch, it’s important to take your time and move slowly to reduce the risk of injury and muscle strains.  

seated spinal twist

Instructions:

  1. Begin in a sitting position on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee and place your right foot just outside the left knee.
  3. Slowly, rotate your torso to the right, positioning the left elbow outside of the right knee.
  4. Hold the position for around 30 seconds, allowing for a deeper stretch with each exhale.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Ideal for isolating the piriformis and glutes, this stretch can be done anywhere, helping to release tight muscles.  

As it opens up your hips, it can relieve any tension in the piriformis muscle making it especially good for those suffering from conditions such as sciatica.  

Instructions:

  1. Lie on your back with bent knees keeping your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Place your right ankle on your left knee, forming a “4” shape.
  3. Slowly and using control bring your left thigh towards your chest, holding the back of your thigh with both hands.
  4. Keep your back flat on the ground as you pull, feeling the stretch in your right glute.
  5. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch legs.

Foam rolling helps release muscle tightness through self-myofascial release, targeting the deep tissues of the glutes.  

Regular foam rolling can help to loosen up knots and adhesions to the fascia and muscles helping to reduce low back pain.

foam rolling for gluteal muscles

Instructions:

  1. Sit on a foam roller with it positioned under your glutes.
  2. Cross your right leg over your left knee, leaning slightly towards the right side.
  3. Place hands on the ground for stability.  This is your starting position. 
  4. Slowly roll back and forth to find and target tight spots in your right glute.
  5. Spend 30-60 seconds on each side, adjusting your body’s position to target different areas of the glutes.

This stretch focuses on the QL, a deep muscle in the lower back located on either side of the lumbar spine.

Stretching the QL can help reduce tightness in the lower back, improve spinal mobility, and indirectly relieve tension in the glutes.

Instructions:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed or in a comfortable seated position that allows you to maintain a straight spine.
  2. Place your right hand on the floor beside you and brace your core muscles for support. 
  3. Extend your left arm overhead, reaching towards the right side as you gently bend your torso to the right. 
  4. You should feel a stretch along the left side of your lower back.
  5. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds, focusing on deep, slow breaths to help deepen the stretch. 
  6. Return to the center and repeat the stretch on the other side, this time extending your right arm overhead and bending to the left.

A gentle, restorative yoga pose that stretches the glutes, lower back, and hips, promoting relaxation and tension release helping to reduce lower back pain.

Because your hips are in a flexed position as you sit back on your heels, this brings your knees closer to your chest, which helps stretch the gluteal muscles and relieve tight hips. 

childs pose on yoga mat

Instructions:

  1. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  2. Spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching.
  3. Sit back on your heels and extend your arms forward on the floor.
  4. Lower your forehead to the ground, allowing your entire body to relax.
  5. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds, breathing deeply to enhance the stretch.

This seated stretch targets the glutes and inner thighs, improving flexibility in the hips and groin area.  

butterfly stretch

As you press your knees down towards the ground, you engage the hip adductor muscles, which are connected to the glutes.

By stretching and releasing tension in the hip adductors, you indirectly alleviate tightness in the gluteal muscles.

Instructions:

  1. Sit on the floor with your back straight and legs extended in front of you.
  2. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, letting your knees fall to the sides.
  3. Hold onto your feet with your hands, gently pulling yourself forward, and hinging at the hips.
  4. Aim to lower your torso towards your feet while keeping your back straight to deepen the stretch.
  5. Hold for 20-30 seconds, breathing deeply to relax further into the stretch.

How Do Strong Glutes Prevent Muscle Tightness

When the glutes are strong and activated properly, they provide stability and support to your pelvis, hips, and lower back, helping to distribute forces evenly during movement and many daily activities.

This reduces the likelihood of overloading other muscles and joints which work to compensate for any glute weakness and leading to subsequent tightness.

Including resistance-based exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, and hip thrusts into your workouts is key.  

These exercises effectively engage your glutes and the surrounding muscles (including the hip flexors and lower back), promoting strength, stability, and mobility in the lower body. 

​Wrapping Up

Keeping your glute muscles strong and well developed is first and foremost one of the best ways of preventing glute tightness from setting in.  

Also, be sure to consider how much time you spend sitting.  

Take regular breaks to wake up your muscles, keeping them flexible and mobile.  

Combining our glute stretches for lower back pain with resistance workouts can help to prevent the muscles from becoming tight and overactive which can reduce the likelihood of developing lower back pain.  

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