The tailbone is triangular and consists of between three and five semi-fused bones. In humans, it is a non-functioning tail.
Many pelvic floor muscles insert into the tailbone, so injuries to this area may affect them too. These muscles assist in defecation, running, walking, and moving the legs. The pelvic floor also supports the vagina.
Performing specific stretches may help to relieve tension in the tailbone. In this article, we explain the tailbone stretches that people can use to relieve pain.
People will typically have coccydynia, or persistent tailbone pain, when they are sitting or when something is putting pressure on the lower spine.
Sitting in the wrong position, falling backward, childbirth, and hypermobility can all injure the bone itself or the surrounding tissue and muscles. Tailbone pain is more common in females than in males.
In addition to relieving the pain of coccydynia, treatment should reduce inflammation and ease muscle tension.
A recent study found that people with coccydynia benefited from performing exercises to increase thoracic spine mobility and to stretch the piriformis and iliopsoas muscles in the buttocks and hips.
These exercises reduced the participants’ pain when sitting and increased the amount of pressure that they could withstand on the lower back before feeling pain.
The exercises below may help to relieve tailbone pain:
1. Single leg knee hug
This stretches the piriformis and the iliopsoas muscles, both of which can become tight and limit mobility in the pelvis. The piriformis originates from the tailbone and can irritate the sciatic nerve if it becomes inflamed.
Gently increasing the stretch over time will allow the range of movement to expand.
2. Piriformis and glute cross leg stretch (thread the needle)
This stretches the piriformis as well as the glutes. The glutes are attached to the tailbone and walking or running can cause them to pull on it.
This stretch is a yoga pose that helps to open the hips. It stretches the iliopsoas, as well as the glute muscles on the bent leg.
This pose is not suitable for people with knee problems.
What to remember about tailbone stretches
The exercises above address some of the causes of tailbone pain.
As with all stretches and exercises, it is crucial to remain within a range of motion that does not cause pain or injury.
In addition to these exercises, other treatment methods may help to prevent and manage tailbone pain. These include:
- spending less time sitting
- cushioning seats
- massaging and manipulating the area
- having local injections of steroids or anesthetics
- making postural adjustments, such as adopting a better sitting position
If tailbone pain is persistent, it is best to visit a doctor or physical therapist.
To prevent tailbone pain, people should avoid prolonged sitting and high impact exercises, such as running and jumping. High impact exercises may aggravate any inflammation and cause the pelvic and hip muscles to tighten further.
Tailbone injuries will heal over time. Until this occurs, treatments such as physical therapy, stretching, and seat cushioning should help to relieve pain and discomfort.
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