I work part time at a local massage school and I was making a bunch of copies one day and noticed on the bulletin boards that there were several articles pinned up, and one in particular was about massaging the glutes and the stigma that some have with it. The article quoted several people who say that they have never had their glutes worked on before. Some reasons were clients own fear of the unknown and feeling uncomfortable about having someone massage their butt. Some claimed their therapist didn’t offer to massage their glutes. Some even said that the therapist said they were not comfortable with delivering this service, not well trained in the techniques, or that it was against the company’s policy that they were working for. I was flabbergasted. To me, not working on the gluteal muscles is unheard of and would be a huge mistake to deny clients the benefits of massaging their strongest muscle group!
I am a firm believer that in most cases, everyone should get glute work as part of their massage. Being one of the strongest muscles groups we have in our body, it consists of three major muscles; Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, and Gluteus Minimus. Underneath this muscle group lays some of your hip flexor muscles, in particular, your Piriformis, which is a short, small muscle that functions to rotate the thigh and helps stabilize the hip joint during walking. We use these muscles in every step that we take, every stair we climb, every jump we make, and every time we stand up from a seated position. They are the link between your upper body and lower body. They are the most used muscle group and are often tight and in need of therapeutic relaxation. To not massage them makes no sense.
Benefits of having your glutes massaged:
If you find that you have back pain, especially in the low back, or have tight and stiff legs, or hip pain or discomfort, the odds are you will have tight gluteus muscles and would most likely benefit from having your glutes and Piriformis worked on during your massage. Your massage therapist should gladly work on your glutes for you. If not, you need to find a new therapist.
A good therapist knows how to work on this major muscle group. As with the rest of your massage, you should be covered with draping exposing the body part that they are working on at the time. For glutes, one side is worked on at a time and usually the same leg is exposed and the sheet tucked under the knee and thigh. The crack of your buttocks should be covered and not seen by the therapist. Sometimes the back may be exposed too, so that the therapist can connect the back, glutes, and hamstrings together in a more fluid motion. It is always recommended to have skin on skin contact for the greatest benefits of massage, but if you are uncomfortable with taking your underwear off, the therapist will gladly work your glutes through the sheets. The therapist should also warm up the muscles before going in deeper with broad strokes and compression work. Most people are surprised by how tender or sore this area is on them. The tight and dense muscles need some coaxing to relax and release, but once they do, your hips will feel freer, more mobile, and you will feel less pain and stiffness in your back, glutes, and legs!
So the next time you get a massage, say yes to getting your glutes massaged! Feel the benefits and enjoy the new body awareness you will have afterwards.
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.