3 Relieving Glute Pretzel Stretches & 3 Alternatives

Tight painful glutes? Try my 3 glute pretzel stretches and 3 others to release the tension your glutes.

Why Do We Get Tight Glutes?

Sitting down all day can make your glutes tighten up and training your glutes can also cause them to tighten. Whichever your vice is we have 6 stretches for your glutes to relieve the tension.

Sitting: The Enemy

Have you heard the new term that sitting is the new smoking?

“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” Dr. James Levine, director of Mayo Clinic

One in four Americans sit for 8 hours a day. 25% said they spent more than eight hours a day sitting, and 44% said they did no moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. About 11% said they sat for more than eight hours a day and also did little leisure-time -Time Magazine

All of this sitting is dramatically impacting our health and causing discomfort in the body. So its time to get off our bums and start moving them around! It’s time to stretch them out and start to sit less. This will help you with the maintenance of relieving your tight glutes.

Muscles Of The Buttock & Hips

Buttock

The large portion of muscle in the buttocks is the gluteus maximus. While this muscle may be the largest it is the smaller gluteus muscle group that can create disharmony in the body. For instance, when your gluteus medius, minimus, and TFL are tight they can impact the way your pelvis balances. When an imbalance occurs it leads to pain in the hips, lower back and the lateral muscle of the knees.

Hip

The muscles of the hip are small and they contribute to the lateral rotation of the hip. The piriformis is one of the major muscles that supports the head of the femur. It is also one of the muscles that can give what might feel like gluteal pain coming from the hip joint. That is why tight glutes can be mistaken for a tight piriformis. When they are tight you may experience dancers turn out and lower back pain.

What Happens When We Have Tight Glutes

When one part of the body becomes tight it creates tension around the surrounding muscle groups too. A tight muscle group creates disharmony in the body which can result in other areas becoming tight or weak.

Anterior pelvic tilt

The anterior pelvic tilt is when the front of the hips are lower and tilted down towards the front of the body. The back of the hips extends out and upwards towards the back of the body. Just think about if your pelvis was full of water, what would happen? Would it waterfall forward, stay in place or move towards your posterior? If you answered the first question then you have anterior pelvic tilt. Check out my complete guide to how to alleviate anterior pelvic tilt.

Sciatica

The piriformis muscle lies underneath the gluteus muscle or buttock. When your glutes and piriformis are tight and fatigued they can cause you to have a sore lower back, hamstrings, poor balance, and even shooting nerve pain down your leg due to sciatica.

Glutes Function

The function of the glutes is to help stabilize the lower back, this prevents us from injury when we are exercising or playing sports. Strong glutes give you great posture and training them increases your bone density.

Supine Glute Pretzel Stretch

How To:

  • Come to a seated position on the floor with bent knees.
  • Lay down with a flat back and ensure your lower back is flat to the mat. We don’t want the hips to be tilting downward.
  • Bring your ankle to meet just below the knee in a right angle position. You want to keep the foot flexed at all times to protect the knee.
  • Bring your hands around the leg with the foot on the floor. In this instance, it is the left leg. Your hands want to reach around until they meet your shins.
  • Draw the shin towards your chest keeping it in the same plane. You should feel a good stretch here.
supine piriformis stretch
supine piriformis stretch
supine piriformis stretch
supine piriformis stretch

Here is a front view of the right angle you need to take with your right leg.

supine piriformis stretch

supine piriformis stretch

Seated Glute Pretzel Stretch

How To:

  • From a seated position bend the knees and draw your feet towards the glutes.
  • Bring one foot onto the opposite knee in a right angle.
  • Ankle should meet the knee.
  • Bring your chest towards the shin.

Beginner Pretzel Stretch

supine piriformis stretch

How To:

  • From a seated position bring both legs out in front of you.
  • Bring one foot onto the opposite knee in a right angle.
  • The ankle should meet the knee.
  • Fold forward as far as you can. Aiming to meet the shins with your chest.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

Alternatives To The Pretzel Stretch

Shoe Lace Pose

How To:

  • From a seated position.
  • Bring one leg in front of you.
  • Knee in line with the hip.
  • Ankle in line with the opposite hip.
  • Foot remains flexed to prevent the knee from injury.
  • The second leg stacks on top of the lower leg at a right angle.
  • Ankle on top of knee.
  • Knee on top of ankle.
  • To deepen the pose fold your torso forward.
Glute Pretzel Stretch

Deer Pose

How to:

  • Begin in downward-facing dog
  • Bend your left knee and sweep your left shin forward bring it forward keeping it at a right angle so the shins are inline with the front of the mat.  
  • The back leg can remain supple and can simply relax behind you.
  • Lift your chest using your fingertips to bring your torso to an upright position.
  • Press down onto the floor with your hips and tailbone and lift up with your chest.
  • Fold forward and bring your chest towards the mat.

Pigeon Pose

How to:

  • Begin in downward facing dog
  • Bend your left knee and sweep your left shin forward bring it forward in between your hands to become parallel with the mat 
  • Extend your right leg behind you your hips should be squared forward and your right knee should face down onto the floor
  • Lift your chest using your fingertips  to bring your torso to an upright position
  • Press down onto the floor with your hips and tailbone and lift up with your chest
  • Bend your right knee and flex your foot drawing your heel to your buttock
  • Reach back with your right hand Palm facing upward and grasp your toes from the inside of your foot.
  • Support yourself with the fingertips of the left hand. 
  • Lift up through your spine open your chest and hold for 5 breaths.

How To Release The Glutes With Trigger Point Therapy

Having a tight glute and piriformis myself I love using trigger point therapy in order to release some tension.

Simply grab a medicine ball and roll over the affected area. Once you find the belly of the muscle where the pain exists place the medicine ball underneath it and hold it there for two minutes.

Once you have worked the body with your medicine ball ensure that you stretch afterward to elongate the muscles.

You can see all of my flexibility training tools here.

I hope you find some relief with these pretzel stretches for your glutes. Which one was your favorite?

Stay limber,

Jadore Vanessa

Vanessa Barthelmes.

Glute Pretzel Stretch

Check out my flexibility classes and online coaching.

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