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The Sunday Stretch – The Deep Glute Muscles

As you probably can guess by the name of the post, we seek to bring you a new stretch each Sunday. That way you can practice it and add it to your stretching arsenal for the rest of the week.

This Sunday Stretch we’re going to work on the deep gluteal muscle group. There are six of them, aka the “deep six”, that lie beneath the more superficial gluteous maximus and gluteous medius. Now, mind you, those deeper muscles aren’t called glute muscles in any anatomy text. But they are in the gluteal region so lets just go with it.

The most prominent muscle of the bunch is called piriformis, for its pear shape. One of its main jobs is to help turn your leg out when you point your foot to the side. Lets call this movement external rotation.

Begin by sitting on the ground with your legs out. To stretch piriformis and some of the other deep muscles, bring one knee to the center of your chest with your foot out around the opposite hip. Then roll forward, tucking the opposite leg out behind you. Seek to bring your knee to your chest by letting gravity bring your upper body down to it. you ought to be feeling a stretch deep in your hip/buttocks. Take a breath, relax into the stretch for 30 seconds, then ease out of it. Then stretch the opposite leg.

In the yoga world this stretch is called “half pigeon”, although I don’t see the resemblance.

This stretch can sometimes help relieve “sciatic” pain, since the sciatic nerve runs though or near piriformis. It’s also a good post-run or post-cycling stretch as the “deep six” muscle group tends to tighten up during those activities.

A similar stretch to this one is called the “figure 4”. Perhaps we’ll look at that one for a future Sunday Stretch.

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