Is My Back Pain A Spinal Problem or a Muscle Tension Problem?

Before you jump the gun and chalk up your lower back pain to spinal injury, consider treating Gluteus Medius Muscle Pain, or commonly referred to as butt pain. The Gluteus Medius is often involved with chronic back pain and chronic low back pain, which is why it is sometimes called the “Lumbago Muscle.” Relieving this muscle of unnecessary tension or trigger points can improve lower back pain in most cases.

What is the Gluteus Medius?

In scientific terms, the Gluteus Medius is one of the three gluteal muscles and is a broad, thick, radiating muscle situated on the outer surface of the pelvis. Its posterior third is covered by the gluteus maximus, and its anterior two-thirds by the gluteal aponeurosis, which separates it from the superficial fascia and integument. This muscle plays a crucial role in the stabilization of the pelvis and the movement of the hip and thigh.

Where are the Muscle Pain Patterns?

Pain patterns associated with the Gluteus Medius can vary, but common areas of discomfort include the lower back, buttocks, and hips. Chronic pain and muscle strain are potential causes of these pain patterns. Reference the pain pictures for a better idea of where Gluteus Medius pain is felt. The more intense the red glow, the more common it is to feel pain in that region. This pain can often be mistaken for other issues such as sciatica or spinal problems, making it important to accurately identify the source of discomfort.

What are My Massage Options?

If you are seeking instant relief, utilizing the help of a massage ball is a good start, and they are easy to find at your local sporting goods store. Massage can relieve pain effectively, and physical therapy is another recommended treatment that includes guided stretches, strength exercises, and low-impact cardio. However, for more effective and targeted relief, we recommend using our Shiatsu Massager Lineup, especially our smaller massage pillow and neck massager. Not only do they offer a stronger massage than a traditional massage ball, but they are also coupled with our infrared heating technology as outlined in our “Benefits of Heated Massage” article.

Benefits of Heated Massage

Heated massage therapy has numerous benefits, particularly for muscle tension and pain relief. Infrared heat penetrates deep into the muscles, increasing blood flow and reducing stiffness. This combination of heat and massage can significantly enhance the relief of muscle pain, promote relaxation, and accelerate the healing process. Our Shiatsu massagers with infrared heat technology are designed to provide these benefits effectively.

Gluteus Medius Massage Technique

To effectively target the Gluteus Medius, follow these steps:

  1. Place the Massager: Position the massager between you and the wall or pull on the pressure straps while it is touching your Gluteus Medius.

  2. Start Low: Begin at the lowest setting and activate the infrared heat.

  3. Increase Pressure: Gradually increase the pressure and intensity level to your desired strength.

  4. Duration: Use the massager for 15 minutes at a time on each side, three times a day for the best results.

Other Ways to Manage Gluteus Medius Pain with Physical Therapy

In addition to using a massager, there are other techniques and practices that can help manage and alleviate Gluteus Medius pain: Poor posture can contribute to pain, and a physical therapist can help with posture correction.

Stretching Exercises

Incorporating specific stretches for the Gluteus Medius into your routine can help relieve tension and improve flexibility. Some effective stretches include:

  • Seated Figure-Four Stretch: Sit on a chair and place your ankle on the opposite knee, then gently lean forward.

  • Hip Flexor Stretch: Kneel on one knee with the other foot in front, and push your hips forward gently.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening the muscles around the Gluteus Medius can provide better support and reduce pain. Exercises like side-lying leg lifts, clamshells, and single-leg bridges can be beneficial.

Posture Correction to Relieve Pain

Improving your posture can help alleviate and prevent Gluteus Medius pain. Poor posture can cause a weakened disk to rupture or bulge, putting pressure on the spinal nerve roots, leading to intense pain. Ensure that you sit and stand with your back straight, shoulders back, and hips aligned.

When to Seek Medical Advice

While self-care techniques can be very effective, it’s important to know when to seek professional help. If you experience any of the following, consult a healthcare provider:

  • Persistent Pain: Pain that lasts more than a few weeks without improvement. Prolonged bed rest can make the pain worse.

  • Severe Pain: Intense pain that interferes with daily activities. Issues with the spinal cord can cause severe pain.

  • Numbness or Tingling: Symptoms that suggest nerve involvement.

  • Weakness: Any noticeable weakness in the legs or difficulty walking.


Determining whether your back pain is due to a spinal issue or muscle tension can be challenging, but understanding the role of the Gluteus Medius can provide clarity. By incorporating effective massage techniques, stretching, strengthening exercises, and proper posture, you can manage and alleviate Gluteus Medius pain. Utilizing tools like the Zarifa Shiatsu Massagers with infrared heating technology can offer significant relief and improve your overall well-being. Remember, persistent or severe pain should be evaluated by a healthcare professional to ensure appropriate treatment and care. Invest in your health and take proactive steps to relieve your pain and enhance your quality of life.