Is running giving you a pain in the “butt”?


Is running giving you a pain in the “butt”?

Do you suffer from sharp or dull pain in the buttock area especially during or after long runs?  Do you find it painful to run, particularly at faster speeds, or does it hurt when you are sitting on hard surfaces or when driving?

This month, Rebecca Nelson, Director of Physiotherapy at Apex Clinic wants to help you to get to the source of your buttock pain to hopefully clear it for good and get you back to running pain-free.

The top 2 causes of buttock pain:

At Apex Clinic, our physios specialise in spinal problems, nerve pain and sports injuries, and as such, we treat a lot of runners with long-standing buttock pain.  ‘Runner’s bum’, as it is affectionately known, is often misdiagnosed and wrongly treated, and as many of you will know, is definitely no laughing matter.  Here, we name and shame our top culprits behind this painful affliction.

Cause #1: Buttock pain referred from the lower back…

Our spine is made up of vertebrae (bones) with spongy discs in between, creating a space that allows for shock absorption through the spine while we run.  Any dysfunction in the lumbar discs or joints – such as damage to a disc or tightening in a segment of the spine – can refer pain to the buttock area.

You may or may not suffer lower back pain for the lower back to be the culprit for causing your pain and the buttock may even be tender to touch. This pain is commonly widespread and generalised, not stabbing or pinpointed in one area.  It is commonly dull and achy but can be sharp or severe and is usually worsened by running uphill or on longer runs.  The speed of the run doesn’t usually affect the pain.

Cause #2: Buttock pain caused by altered neural dynamics…

Often overlooked, buttock pain can be caused by poor nerve movement of the sciatic nerve in the buttock, or ‘altered neural dynamics’.  This pain tends to be localised and more easily located in one specific area or point.  The pain tends to be sharp and can be severe.  It is usually worsened by a faster pace and/or downhill running, where the stride length is longer.  It’s often painful to sit on hard surfaces and when driving.

Less common causes of buttock pain, which are in many cases overdiagnosed include: hamstring origin tendinopathy (tendinitis), ischiogluteal bursitis, piriformis syndrome and an avulsion fracture of the ischial tuberosity.

Time to kick buttock pain where it really hurts:

There generally are no effective self-management techniques to clear buttock pain that has been present for more than a few weeks.   A correct diagnosis of the pain is absolutely essential to get the correct treatment regime in place.  We recommend a thorough assessment by a specialist spinal physio who will identify, diagnose and treat your problem at its source.

In the long-term, local soft tissue work to the buttock will not help cure the problem.  Until you seek treatment to clear the buttock pain, you should reduce your mileage and keep to soft/flat surfaces when running, such as grass, bark or treadmill.

As with most pain in the body, the wrong diagnosis could leave you suffering in pain for months and even years unnecessarily.  The team at Apex Clinic recommends you take action today and give buttock pain the boot it deserves!