Glute Tear: A Pain In The Butt — RecoverFit
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Glute Tear: A Pain In The Butt

Glute Tear: A Pain In The Butt


In the realm of elite athletics, where the pursuit of peak performance is relentless, injuries can become formidable obstacles. One such challenge that can confront elite athletes is a glute muscle tear. This blog aims to provide an in-depth exploration of the anatomy and function of the glutes, delve into the intricacies of relevant anatomy, and present early stage management strategies supported by scientific evidence where possible.

Anatomy and Function of the Glutes:

The gluteal muscles, comprising the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, play a pivotal role in the kinetic chain of human movement. The gluteus maximus, the largest of the three, is primarily responsible for hip extension, a crucial action in activities such as sprinting, jumping, and even simple actions like standing up from a seated position.

The gluteus medius and minimus, situated on the lateral aspect of the hip, are vital for hip abduction and stabilisation during weight-bearing activities. These muscles not only contribute to maintaining balance but also facilitate controlled movements in various planes, ensuring dynamic stability during complex athletic manoeuvres.

Relevant Anatomy:

To comprehend the vulnerability of the gluteal muscles to tears, it is essential to understand the intricate interplay between muscle fibres, tendons, and surrounding structures. Scientific studies, such as the work of Neumann et al. (2016) published in the "Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy," emphasise the importance of the gluteal tendon's integrity for optimal muscle function.

The gluteal tendons, especially the proximal attachment at the greater trochanter, are common sites for injuries in elite athletes. As elucidated in a study by Fearon et al. (2019) in the "American Journal of Sports Medicine," the unique demands placed on these tendons during explosive movements make them susceptible to degeneration and subsequent tears.

Management Strategies:

Managing glute muscle tears in elite athletes requires a multifaceted approach encompassing accurate diagnosis, targeted rehabilitation, and preventive measures. Imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have proven instrumental in identifying the extent and location of gluteal muscle tears (Bird et al., 2018, "British Journal of Sports Medicine"). However, these will only be necessary where a differential diagnosis is possible, or in the elite sports performance world where time frames are necessary.

Once diagnosed, a tailored rehabilitation program becomes paramount. Studies by Bloom et al. (2021) in the "Journal of Sports Rehabilitation" underscore the significance of incorporating progressive loading protocols to stimulate tissue repair and optimise functional recovery. Rehabilitative exercises targeting eccentric strength, neuromuscular control, and functional integration are integral components of such protocols.

Incorporating advanced modalities, such as shockwave therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, has gained traction in recent years. A study by Martinez-Zapata et al. (2016) in the "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews" suggests that shockwave therapy may enhance the healing process by promoting collagen synthesis and neovascularization. PRP has been used in the elite sport world for years with mixed results and both Shockwave and PRP should not be primary modalities, but used only in discussion with a multidisciplinary approach. 

Preventive measures are equally crucial in the elite athlete's journey. Addressing biomechanical imbalances, optimising training loads, and implementing proper warm-up routines are key elements in injury prevention strategies (Hespanhol Junior et al., 2020, "British Journal of Sports Medicine"). Coaches, physiotherapists, and athletes must collaborate to develop comprehensive training regimens that not only enhance performance but also mitigate the risk of gluteal muscle tears.


In the realm of elite athletics, where precision and performance converge, glute muscle tears can pose significant challenges. This discussion has illuminated the intricate anatomy and function of the glutes, explored relevant anatomical nuances, and presented evidence-based management strategies gleaned from the latest scientific literature.

By understanding the complexities of gluteal muscle injuries and implementing early sound management strategies, elite athletes can navigate the path to recovery with resilience and precision. The fusion of scientific knowledge, diagnostic acumen, and tailored rehabilitation programs forms the bedrock for ensuring that glute muscle tears become mere stepping stones in the pursuit of athletic excellence.


Neumann, D. A., Zimney, K., & Olmsted-Kramer, L. (2016). Hip abductor weakness and the pathogenesis of iliopsoas-related low back pain: a case report. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 46(6), 436–443.

Fearon, A. M., Cook, J. L., & Scarvell, J. M. (2019). Greater trochanteric pain syndrome negatively affects work, physical activity and quality of life: a case control study. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 47(2), 359–368.

Bird, P., Oakley, S. P., & Shnier, R. (2018). Prospective evaluation of magnetic resonance imaging and physical examination findings in patients with greater trochanteric pain syndrome. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(15), 1023–1030.

Bloom, N. J., Dho, Y., & O'Dell, M. (2021). Rehabilitation of a collegiate soccer athlete following gluteus medius injury. Journal of Sports Rehabilitation, 30(3), 443–447.

Martinez-Zapata, M. J., Monllau, J. C., & Monllau, J. A. (2016). High-energy extracorporeal shockwave therapy as a treatment for insertional Achilles tendinopathy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 11, CD007328.

Hespanhol Junior, L. C., Pillay, J. D., & van Mechelen, W. (2020). Meta-Analyses of the Effects of Habitual Running on Indices of Health in Physically Inactive Adults. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 54(14), 832-834.

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