Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pain in the Gluteus Medius, I think?

The day after the Carlsbad Half, my right hip was back to feeling cranky. (It didn’t bother me at all during the race.) Otherwise, my soreness was even in both sides of my body. I was pretty sore in the usual spot – the entire front and back of the leg – and also in my forearms and biceps.

Anticipating said hip crankiness, I scheduled a massage for Monday after work. I started out the massage on my stomach. It felt like the therapist was using her feet…and sure enough when I flipped over, I saw that she was. The modality is called Ashiatsu. The therapist uses an overhead support system to control her body weight and massages with the feet.

By U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District from Wiesbaden, Germany (USACE host Health Fair  Uploaded by SchuminWeb) [CC-BY-2.0 ( or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This was very effective on the quads, which took out a lot of the tension in my right hip. I’ve never felt so much relief from a massage.

Following the massage, I did a long stretching session with yoga, foam rolling, sticking, and restorative yoga poses. I repeated it Tuesday morning and again Tuesday night. And my right hip now feels exactly the same as my left hip. They are sore, but balanced.

The exact muscle that is acting up is the gluteus medius. You can find it by putting your hands on the upper part of your butt, and when you walk, it is the muscle that contracts.

Behold the gluteus medius:
By Anatomography (en:Anatomography (setting page of this image)) [CC-BY-SA-2.1-jp (], via Wikimedia Commons
I’m not sure how to correct it. Brainstorming:

It could be a muscle imbalance? Perhaps my right gluteus medius is weaker than the left, and therefore the hip is collapsing on the right foot strike. But I see no signs of hip tilting in my running pictures. Or, it could be that my right inner quad is weak, relative to the right gluteus medius, which would cause an outward rotation and misalignment the leg.

It could be tight quads? When the quad are tight, they pull on stuff that tugs on the gluteus medius. (We’re very scientific here.) I felt reference pain during the quad massage in my hip, so it’s true. The massage therapist told me that the stick is a great tool for getting at the quad muscle, especially just above the knee. She’s right, it’s better than foam rolling this area.

It could be a tight psoas? The massage therapist checked that out, and it wasn’t painful at all.

It could be skeletal?

It could be the result of too fast of a mileage build up? Suggested by Penny - and a likely scenario…

I guess I lay off the long runs for a few weeks, work on the tight quads, and go about strengthening gluteus medius and inner thighs?

two little runners

1 comment:

  1. It may be unusual, but this procedure is actually very effective. Some large muscles such as your glutes have to be massaged with a greater force than hands can usually exert, so this one works even better. Have considered asking an expert on which of these causes could be the culprit? You'd have to know so that you could adjust your running strategy accordingly. I hope you solved this puzzle! Take care!

    Ervin Willis @ Main Street Massage Therapy