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The Lowdown on Gluteus Maximus Tears

person running - high activity may cause gluteus maximus tear

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t give certain muscles (or any area of your body) much thought until you have a nagging pain that causes the slightest inconvenience. One moment you’re moving around without any issue and the next moment you might think to yourself, “Hmm, that wasn’t there before.”

Today’s society is also aesthetically inclined when it come to physique, so your glutes (both males and females!) may have had some attention before. Critique towards the derriere may be thrown around lackadaisically by people of the opposite sex. 

Fast forward to leg/butt day at the gym, maybe you went too hard on the split squats or got out of hand with those Romanian deadlifts. Now you may wonder if you have a gluteus maximus tear. If this is you, read on. 

 

What Does My Gluteus Maximus Do?

As the largest muscle in our body, we literally wouldn’t get around without the gluteus maximus. 

Here are some major roles this muscle plays:

  • Hip extension: Think of standing up from sitting or even plain walking or running. These actions require extension of the thigh at the hip joint. 
  • Hip external rotation: Want to change direction? Turning or pivoting is a glute function. 
  • Posture support: It helps with pelvis and spine alignment. 
  • Pelvis stabilization: As you do a variety of movements (walking, running or standing) the gluteus maximus helps prevent excessive tilting or rotation.

This significant list shows how crucial the glutes are in functional movements, sometimes even preventing poor posture and decreasing injury. Glutes are not just for looks but so much more! 


What Is a Gluteus Tear?

Let’s review what exactly a muscle tear is. As noted by the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, “Torn muscles can occur any time your muscle becomes strained or overstretched. This can happen as a result of exhaustion and fatigue, improper use, or overuse. While any muscle can be affected, torn muscles most often occur in the lower back, neck, shoulder and hamstring.”

Out of the three gluteal muscles (maximus, medius and minimus), a gluteus maximus tear is the least common. With this in mind, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Gluteus Maximus Tear Symptoms

  • Stiffness, pain or discomfort in your buttock area
  • Physical discomfort when bending, standing or sitting
  • Decreased range of motion 
  • Tender to the touch
  • Swelling
  • Weakness [1] 

Gluteus Maximus Tear Causes (but can be applied to all glute muscles)

  • Traumatic injury
  • Degenerative condition
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Forceful movement (such as in sports)

Expanding on the topic of why your gluteus maximus might become dysfunctional, a study in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy notes, “It is thought prolonged sitting reduces the activation of GM and over time these muscles become atrophied and weak.” [3] So, those long hours at the office desk or on the couch might be causing harm.

Gluteus Maximus Tear Diagnosis

  • Medical history
  • Physical assessment (Your doctor may want to palpate your hip area to evaluate tenderness, perform standard muscle tests and observe for gait abnormalities.)
  • Imaging (X-rays, MRI or ultrasounds)
man suffering from gluteus maximus tear

Gluteus Maximus Tear Interventions

As with most mild muscle injuries, the initial treatment should involve:

  • Rest
  • Ice 
  • Elevation (my interpretation of this - position yourself in a way where pressure is not applied.)

More involved treatments by a doctor or physical therapist may include:

  • Activity modification
  • Over-the-counter pain medication
  • Physical therapy

If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself with the highest grade of gluteus tear, hip specialists are known to provide tear surgeries. This is the path taken if there hasn’t been any improvement with conservative measures. This involves tendon reattachment and reconstruction. [1]

Depending on the severity of your tear and remedies carried out, recovery time does vary greatly. Personal accounts have reported anywhere from 3 months to a couple years. 

An important thing to be aware of is the saying do no H.A.R.M. 

  • Heat
  • Alcohol
  • Running
  • Massage

These actions may cause further injury.


Gluteus Maximus Tear Prevention

There are several things you can do to prevent injury to your glutes. 

As with most muscle tears - do a proper warm up and know your limits

Additionally, long term success should include the following:

  • Stretching
  • Proper form
  • Strengthening

If you find yourself having glute muscle tightness, this can also contribute to lower back pain. While you can easily use the QL Claw to dig into your gluteus medius to help nip any strain in the bud. (Reminder, don’t massage if you’re post muscle tear)

Not sure where to start? Try this short warm up glute stretch...

Gluteus Maximus Tear FAQ

What are the symptoms of a torn gluteus maximus

While everyone is different, some symptoms of a torn gluteus maximus include:

  • Pain
  • Soreness
  • Spasms
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty moving

Will a gluteus maximus tear heal on its own?

If you’re able to find relief with some of the interventions mentioned on this page, a gluteus maximus tear can heal on its own. How long will it take? That depends on many things such as how severe is the tear and what you’re doing to recover. 

If you don’t have any improvement, don’t hesitate to see your doctor. 

How long does it take for a gluteus muscle tear to heal?

Again, this depends. People have reported it may take months to years. Of course, everyone’s experience is different. 

What does a gluteal tear feel like?

A muscle tear is something you would notice right away. You would likely not be able to move much due to the pain, leaving you immobile and sore. The area may be tender to touch and may even be swollen. 


Gluteus Maximus Tear: Conclusion 

Since our gluteus maximus is so large and powerful, experiencing injury would affect your mobility, overall strength and pretty much your daily life. Imagine the painful struggle just getting up from a chair or walking across the room. It seems you’d be out of commission until you fully heal. 

With a GM tear painting such a bleak picture, hopefully the preventive measures can help you steer clear or at the very least the interventions can help you heal.


Sources:


[1] https://healthcare.utah.edu/orthopaedics/specialties/hip-pain/gluteal-tear-tendon-repair

[2] https://www.americanhipinstitute.com/

[3] Buckthorpe, M., Stride, M., Della Villa, F., Assessing and treating gluteus maximus weakness - a clinical commentary. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 2019. 



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