The gluteus minimus is an important muscle in the buttock. This fan shaped muscle arises from the pelvis and attaches to the femur or the main leg bone. When you stand on one leg the gluteus minimus will contract to balance you.
This makes it a vital part of the stabilisation of the pelvis. It is used constantly whilst you are standing, walking or doing anything in an upright position. It’s a relatively small and deep posture muscle and is therefore vulnerable to overuse and tension. And this is why it fairly often harbours trigger points.
You can find myofascial triggers in the muscle by pressing into the soft tissue of the side of your hip or buttock area. It is best to lie on your side so the overlying gluteus medius muscle is relaxed.
To reach the gluteus minimus press into the area deeply. If you do have triggers in this muscle you will feel tenderness deep in your buttock. This may be localised to the area you pushing or may cause pain down your leg.
There are complex patterns of pain referral from gluteus minimus trigger points. One set of triggers occurs toward the front of the muscle and will refer pain in a thin band down the outside of the leg. This band of soreness may reach right down to the ankle.
Strangely, this band of pain down the leg is not felt over the outside of the knee. Myofascial points occurring further back in the muscle are often felt deep within the buttock and refer in a broad band down the back of the thigh to just below the knee.
These patterns mimic the ache of sciatica. Sciatica is caused by irritation or compression of the nerve exiting the spinal cord and also causes discomfort right down the leg.
Because the pain is in a similar place, it is common to confuse the two problems. The way to tell between the two causes is this: tingling, numbness and weakness occur with sciatica, but do not occur with trigger points in the gluteus minimus muscle.
One important point – you can get sciatica and trigger points in the gluteus minimus at the same time. In fact, tense muscles caused by the discomfort of sciatica can set off trigger points in this muscle.
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