In my previous article, “The Emperor Muscle – the Gluteus Maximus and Other Pains in the Butt”, we discussed the mechanics of how gluteus maximus dysfunction and generally weak hips can show up elsewhere in the body as IT band pain, knee pain, and/or piriformis syndrome.
Allow me to share my tale (or tail…Ha!) of woe with you. First and foremost, I do not consider myself a runner. In fact, I may be a person who runs, but am not a runner, per se. While I enjoy the convenience and simplicity of lacing up my shoes and heading out the door, I don’t have a particular passion for running. Lifting, however, is a completely different story…
Onto my tale…
Three years ago, I was out for a run when I noticed that my left foot would go numb within 7-10 minutes of hitting the pavement. I would lace my shoes a bit looser, but to no avail. 5 minutes later, my entire lower leg was numb. After a bit of investigating, it came to light that years of squats, lunges and deadlifts had left my posterior tight, taut, toned, and COMPLETELY dysfunctional. Enter Yoga Tune Up® and the Roll Model® Therapy balls to the rescue!
After changing my mindset to be more recovery-minded rather than end-result minded, I was able to incorporate the stretches and techniques below to help me become a more balanced athlete, and said goodbye to leg pain! You may not be able to do much about your pesky neighbor with a predilection for techno music at 2am, but gluteus maximus dysfunction is one pain in the butt that you can eradicate!
Enjoyed this article? Read Roll Out Your Pectineus with YTU Therapy Balls
Wow. I have been learning more and more all the ways in which tight muscles can be to our detriment– your example reminds me of learning about how tight abdominals can cause a whole host of issues– diastasis recti and prolapse included, and this seems a great example on glutes… I had a similar first experience with fascial release in the glutes but with hip pain, not leg numbness, and that was my first incredible experience/exposure with/to Rolfing and fascia a number of years ago. Recovery is essential!! Thanks for sharing your story.
My hips are the bane of my existence. I have pain that travels throughout my pelvis, front and back, depending on what kind of exercise I have been doing. Rolling with the tune up balls has resulted in tremendous relief and much less pain – the glutes are HUGE muscles and they need lots of TLC.
It sounds like part of the mindset that is so crucial to you making this change is captured in the word you used about figuring out what was wrong– “investigate.” The idea of being curious about what’s happening in the body, and with that, willing to learn from where your curiosity leads you, is something I’m really appreciating as I learn more about YTU. It’s so transferable to all aspects of the body, and really to life in general.
I had minor knee surgery almost a year ago with no complications. But the pain that occurred on the opposite hip and leg went on for much longer. While attending a Yoga Tune Up® teacher training this spring the pain went away during the week. Now I am focused on stabilizing the lower back as I often find a stiffness and pain moving to different parts of the leg from the thigh to the ankle. Thank you for this post because it brought me to using more often the Yoga Leg Stretch #3 for Runners.
Thanks for sharing! I really like what you said about changing the mindset to be more recovery-minded rather than end-result minded. I do have some knee pains, I will adopt this approach towards my recovery.
Such useful techniques for pretty much everyone with glutes. Using the YTU balls really help release the excess tension, relieving pain in my back and knees. Thank you for sharing with the videos!
Piriformis rolling is so amazing and so necessary if you are a runner or not. Great points and a great reminder.
I have a client who develops numbness in one foot after certain exercises, so I will be sharing these videos with her. I love how just a couple of minutes doing these routines can make every body feel so much better!
I get that feeling of numbness and tingling in my foot… I will take you’re advice and start rolling out the piriformis and glute max and see if that helps. I find that stretch works great even with a bent knee to stretch out the glutes for someone with a little less flexibility and without a strap.
Love the piriformis roll! we did it today in class and I do it on a regular basis at home. When I was first introduced to the YTU balls only a very basic movement of cross finer and stripping was shown. I just love the add ons to help get to the ‘meat’ of the issue! it reminds me of ART with my Chiropractor! sweet! the pain of purification!!
oh the prirformis roll! a lifesaver for me and a lesson in expletives for anyone unfortunate enough to hear what likely will exit my mouth whilst doing it! but a lifesaver and one of my faves nonetheless! Love your article and really appreciate the videos…great reminders! Especially love your comment about having to shift between recovery mindset and end goal mindset. Beautiful reminder to have a balanced mindset for a balanced body!
I guess if I ever become half as flexible as that in the hips, I’ll be a new, a reborn woman. I spend many hours a week sitting at a desk and some other ones in the saddle since I’m into equestrian sports. Let’s see what those exercises will change for me in the saddle and in the daylife.
Love the piriformis roll, it can be quite nasty at times but the rolling helps. The pin and stretch with the butterfly legs get really deep. Leg stretch Three has always been a hit in yoga my classes people love the hip and low back release.
Hips and buttucks therapy ball exercice.. I really enjoy getting this periformis activated..I am really happy that YTU training supplied me with all the tools to find imbalance and heal my body!
I love the rolling of perifomus and then add the leg stretch #3 – my buttocks is very tight and needs fluffing… Thx Genevieve for sharing your story.
Great blog Gen. I feel ya on the dysfunctional hips from focusing on the end results of lifting. Applying these rolling and stretching techniques has helped me become a more functionally minded athlete that can move better and recover faster.
I think it is amazing that we are finding so many way now to eradicate our own pain through knowledge of movement, anatomy and Tune Up Balls!! Who said you need a degree to help people heal their bodies!?
I just recently started to run again with a group from the yoga studio I attend. I found this article very interesting because so many in the group have been complaining of pain in the backside which we refer to as assitis. I am definitely going to share your tips on how the Yoga Tune Up and the therapy balls can solve this problem. I like your comment about how you changed your mindset to recovery mnded versus end result minded. It took me a long time to get this way and I am sure it will take a lot of work to undo the damage, a little bit at a time.
Thank you for the reminder to roll out the piriformis; I have a lot of tightness in this area and it would be less painful to use the YTU balls there if I did it more often! I also loved your statement about becoming more recovery-minded.
What a great way to get to both the iliopsoas and pectineus at the same time. I have to confess, got my block and Yoga Tune Up ball and tried this. Love it, a little tricky yes.
It must be really scary to have the leg go numb. I am really happy that I’m walking away from YTU training with the tools to find imbalance and heal my body!
Genevieve, you inspired me to explore my hips and glutes and give them some more attention. But even more so you made me take pause and examine why how I teach to my students. This line, “changing my mindset to be more recovery-minded rather than end-result minded” just gave me huge insight and a very different approach to teaching yoga. I’m not sure I’m ready to thank you yet for that! But I’m sure one day I will.
thank you Genevieve,
thanks for the reminder that just because the gluteus muscles can be strong it doesn’t mean that they are able to contract and function properly. Using the roll model balls have help increase my awareness and strengh in both hips.
Great article! I am going to have to look into this some more. I, too, am an occasional runner, but do not in any way shape or form refer to myself as a runner. My tale is that about a year ago my left great toe hurt so much after 15 minutes of running that I was convinced that it was broken. X-rays revealed that all was well. I still have intermittent pain in the left great toe if I run more than 10 minutes. I have tried the alternate lacing methods, new shoes, new insoles and no magic bullet. My feet go numb after 20 minutes, so I look forward to delving into my hips and glutes more and seeing if that is the end of the tale.
Like the combo of ball rolling and leg stretch #3. I’m a little confused as to why your foot went numb…tight back, tight back of legs?
I love leg stretch #3, and rolling out the hips. I wish she explained more about why her feet were going numb on her runs, it sounds really interesting and I’d like to understand the biomechanics of why that was happening.
Just out of curiosity, why would one strech the tissues before running if the running motion requires the tissues to shorten in a very quick and short timeslots? Wouldn’t mobilization of hips, knees and ankles be enough as a warm up?
In addition to the gluteal muscles, another muscle to be aware of, especially when seeking to find the cause of leg pain is the piriformis. This muscle is deep to the gluteal muscles and attaches near where the sciatic nerve exits the lumbosacral plexus. If the piriformis becomes inflamed it can irritate the nerve, which provides sensory innervation to the lower limb all the way to the foot.
Thank you for your post! I love the combination of rolling out and then using the supine stretch with strap to create space in the piriformis and low back with a little IT band action. Beautiful prior and after a run!
Thanks for the informative and clear solution to this common problem
I enjoyed your previous article. These are two great videos you shared. I also find each of those stretches very helpful. The YTU therapy balls are great as well. Thanks again for sharing.
I love to hear a happy tale about hips and butt pain (even if it’s tale of woe to start!) because that has been my “problem area” after 25 years of dance experience. I do want to ask if you took a break from your usual routine of running and squatting to recover, or if you have permanently limited those activities to make room for more therapeutic practice?
Great article. I too have similar issues with tightness in the buttocks area. I practice the leg stretch 3 already but am super excited to try my Yoga therapy balls to massage out my tight piriformis. thanks for an informative blog!