Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pain in the Butt

Last week I was socializing at a marketing event with a few colleagues in the community when a gentleman asked me publicly (and very boldly I might add) if I did "butt massage" in my practice. He intended this comment to be somewhat of a joke, but was surprised when my response was "Absolutely!" This caught him and everyone else off guard.  Suddenly the faces in the room were puzzled and some even looked shocked.  I smiled to to myself because it gave me a chance to address something that I had wanted to talk about in these meetings without having to be the one to bring it up. Needless to say, I spent the next 15 minutes explaining my answer.

"Butt Massage", as this guy so delicately put it, is one of most important parts of alleviating hip and low back pain, but (no pun intended), because in our society it is often considered a private part, these muscles are often overlooked in the massage room because of a client's or even a therapist's shyness. As we know, massage is a therapeutic manipulation of muscle and surrounding tissue with the intent to reduce pain. Your behind is full of muscles! Everyone knows the big one; Gluteus Maximus, but thats just what's on the surface.
There are two other large muscles in the Glutes; Gluteus Medius and Minimus.

Gluteus Medius & Minimus help to support the hips while walking. When hyopertonic, either of these muscles can cause a brutal amount of pain that radiates from underneath the butt cheek, up the lower back, then all the way down the side of the leg and into the calf muscle. Trigger Points in these muscles can cause pain while walking or standing, and they can make it difficult to get out of a chair without extreme pain. 

Even deeper to these muscles, you have an even smaller muscle, but one that can cause excruciating pain when it is not healthy, the piriformis. The piriformis causes this amount of  pain because it is located over the sciatic nerver and when it is hypertonic, causes nerve entrapment AKA Sciatica!   for anyone who has been lucky enough to miss out on the ever painful experience of sciatica, Congratulations!  Sciatica is a burning sensation, numbness, or tingling radiating from the lower back and upper buttock down the back of the thigh to the back of the leg. Sometimes the pain radiates around the hip or buttock and is described as a general hip pain. Severe sciatica can make walking difficult if not impossible.

The good news is that your massage therapist can treat and alleviate this kind of pain!  The bad news is most people are too shy to ask.  A good massage therapist is a healthcare professional, and it is our job to do our best to reduce your pain in a safe, professional and non-judging way.  You will always remain draped to your gluteal line, and your privates will always remain private.  A neuromuscular massage session on this area should take at least 30minutes focusing on the specific problem area.  It is normal to feel sore for a day or so after, but you should feel significant relief within two days.  It may take up to six sessions before the problem is resolved.  

If you still are unsure if you feel comfortable receiving a professional massage in this manner, there is something you can do at home to relieve your pain.

The Tennis Ball Trick

You will need a regular tennis ball.   Place the ball between the wall and your hip/buttocks so that it can get to your Gluteus Medius, minimus or piriformis. Slowly apply pressure and move around until you feel ‘the spot’. You’ll know when you feel it!  It will mimic your symptoms with a burning sensation.  It should be uncomfortable, but don't hurt yourself.  Apply pressure at about an 7 out of 10 (10 being unbearable), and hold that pressure on the trigger point for about 30 seconds or until you feel it "let go".   Remember to breath deeply, and on each exhalation visualize the muscle relaxing.  You may need to do this for several days to get rid of all of your trigger points. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh...must have misunderstood BLOG title! Have never "blogged" before you see. I was one of John's X-students and think I fit this catagory for him in class =). He's a wonderful instructor and does fine work himself. While instruction was a challange, he made me the LMBT I am today! Good luck with the new work location John. -Brian Pleasants