Trigger points are specific areas along a skeletal muscle that are sensitive to touch and pressure, which causes tenderness and pain. The points are often caused by hyperactive areas on the muscle where excessive neural stimulation causes the muscle fibers to stay contracted and stick together. Many people experience trigger points in their buttocks, legs and other parts of their hips after exercise because of excessive fatigue and neural activity in the body parts.
Trigger points cause muscle tightness and inflexibility as well taut connective tissues -- called fasciae. Since fasciae connect a muscle group to other parts of your body, fasciae with trigger points can cause nearby body parts to become inflexible as well, explains massage therapist Rolfer Thomas Myers, author of "Anatomy Trains." This pattern causes a chain reaction in your body where multiple muscles can have trigger points from one original site. For example, a trigger point in your buttocks can cause your hip joints to become stiff. Thus, your knee joints and lower back have to compensate for the hip joints' lack of movement, which causes excessive wear and tear on your knee joints.
The piriformis syndrome is another common cause of trigger points in the lower and deeper part of your buttocks. It is usually caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle, which leads to sciatic pain. This piriformis muscle runs along the sciatic nerve, which originates in your sacrum, goes through your hips and branches out to your legs. Irritation can occur from constant running, cycling or any repetitive movement of the hip joint.
Self-myofascial release, or SMR, is a self-massage technique to break apart trigger points using a foam roller, massage stick or other massage tools. Apply pressure on a trigger point and gently massage the area until the pain goes away. Static stretching also can relieve trigger point effects by reducing neural stimulation in a muscle. Reduction of neural stimulation allows muscle fibers to relax, decreasing the amount of adhesion. The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends doing SMR before doing static stretches. When you stretch, hold the position for a minimum of 30 seconds.
Work with a physical therapist, chiropractor or massage therapist who has a background in trigger point therapy or myofascial release if the pain in your buttocks and other parts of your hips does not go away after self-treatment. A professional can help you find long-term relief and offer home exercises to prevent the trigger points from returning.
- NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training; Michael Clark
- Spine-Health.com: Exercise for Sciatic Pain from Piriformis Syndrome
- Anatomy Trains; Thomas Myers
- Ryan McVay/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.