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GLUTEAL STRAIN (AS PER ROB KEARNEY) – That’s a pain in the bum!

Posted by Sinead Brogan on

GLUTEAL STRAIN (AS PER ROB KEARNEY) – That’s a pain in the bum!

As rugby fans wait with bated breath for the outcome of Rob Kearney’s scan today, FlexPhysio explains exactly what a gluteal strain is and how to manage this injury.


Firstly, what is a gluteal strain?

Well, the gluteal muscle group comprises of three different muscles – the gluteus maximus (the biggest one), gluteus medius (middle size one) and gluteus minimus (the little one).  Basically, these are your buttock muscles. A gluteal strain is when there is excessive stretching of the fibres of the muscle resulting in a level of tearing. Strains can range from Grade I strains which are mild and heal quickly, to a Grade III, which is a complete rupture – let’s hope that Rob is experiencing the former!




 How does it happen?

The gluteal muscles are very strong muscles that are particularly active and important in activities such as running, jumping, squatting and lunging. In fact, these muscles are generally  difficult to injure (although weakness or lack of endurance in this muscle group can often lead to back pain or hamstring strains, particularly in GAA players – more on this another time!). Therefore, in order to strain a gluteal muscle, there must be a high level of tension or repetition with force. In Rob’s case, as his leg was pulled back by the Romanian, he likely overstretched to score the try! (Thanks Rob J)

 How does it feel?

Like any acute injury, the first indication of a strain is pain in the region of the affected muscle.  So with a gluteal strain, a sharp pain in the bum gives the game away! For mild strains, pain may only be noticed on cooling down after activity. Pain is generally aggravated with simple activities such as walking, going up and down stairs and after sitting for a period of time. Running, squatting and lunging are also difficult. Generally there will be some spasm, tightness and tenderness in the muscle and in some cases bruising and swelling may be evident.

So what happens next?

Lucky for Rob, with the resources of the IRFU, he will get scanned today and therefore will know the exact extent of the injury. For us mere mortals, a thorough subjective (questioning) and objective (physical) assessment by a Chartered Physiotherapist is generally sufficient to diagnose this injury.


What is the management for this injury?

Treatment for a gluteal strain depends on the type of strain that has occurred – Grade I, II or III. Like any acute soft tissue injury, the initial management involves following the PRICE protocol (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). After a thorough investigation and assessment to determine the extent of the injury, manual and soft tissue therapy as indicated are commenced. In some case modalities such as laser or ultrasound to control and minimize inflammation are utilized. Dry needling and acupuncture are also effective ways of treating muscle injuries. Most importantly a specific, individualised, rehabilitation plan comprising stretching, strengthening and conditioning is implemented to restore optimum muscle function. Possible biomechanical contributing or compensating factors are also addressed.


If you think you are suffering from a gluteal strain, contact Sinead from FlexPhysio Mullingar for more information.

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