Tailbone pain exercises can help alleviate discomfort by strengthening the muscles surrounding the coccyx and improving flexibility in the lower back and hips.
Sarah Peters - BKIN(CH), R.KIN, CAT(C)
The human body is designed to move! Exercise helps in injury recovery. Physical therapy can provide effective and safe exercises for reducing tailbone pain, calming the nervous system, and supporting pelvic organs. The right exercises can reduce pain!
What is the Tailbone?
The coccyx and sacrum, collectively known as the tailbone is a triangular bony structure grouping of three to five semi-fused bones at the bottom of the spine.
An injury or fracture of the tailbone can cause inflammation and pain. There are exercises and stretches that may help provide tailbone pain relief.
The tailbone is connected to the pelvic floor muscles. Injuries to the pelvic floor can affect the tailbone as well. The pelvic muscles work to maintain healthy bladder and bowel function and support the function of sexual organs.
A pelvic floor injury can interfere with healthy muscular function, preventing the pelvic floor muscles from relaxing and contracting correctly. These injuries can also cause an obstruction in the bladder neck, bladder, or urethra. This can lead to difficulty to passing urine and urine retention. Overuse of the pelvic floor muscles and hip-opening muscles around the tailbone can worsen pain symptoms.
Persistent pain in the tailbone (coccyx) is known as coccydynia. Your Physical Therapist will not see you suffer for long though as there are stretches that may relieve muscle tension and provide tailbone pain relief. This article will cover stretches that people can use to relieve pain.
What causes tailbone pain?
People usually experience coccydynia when there is pressure on the lower back or when sitting. Coccydynia is most common in women but, anyone can experience persistent tailbone pain.
Childbirth is one of the most common causes of coccydynia. Towards the end of pregnancy, the coccyx and surrounding ligaments become more flexible. This allows more space to open for the delivery of the baby.
Childbirth can sometimes cause the muscles and ligaments around your coccyx to overstretch resulting in coccydynia.
Injuring your coccyx
A hard impact to the base of your spine can injure your coccyx. This can happen during an impact in contact sports or falling backwards.
Most coccyx injuries result in it only being badly bruised. More severe injuries might involve dislocation or fracture.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
Long term participation in sports like rowing or cycling require a forward leaning position, putting pressure on the tailbone and stretching the base of your spine.
When this motion is frequently repeated, the muscles and ligaments around your coccyx can become strained and stretched.
Repetitively straining muscles and ligaments can lead to permanent damage. When this happens, the muscles will no longer be able to hold your coccyx in the correct position, causing pain and discomfort.
Prolonged sitting at a desk or driving can put too much pressure on your coccyx. The pain and discomfort from sitting with poor posture will get worse the longer you stay in this position.
Being Underweight or Overweight
If you are very lean, you may develop coccydynia. A layer of fat on the buttocks prevents irritation by stopping your coccyx from rubbing against the surrounding tissues.
Being overweight can be a factor in causing coccydynia. It can also make preexisting coccydynia worse. Excess weight places extra pressure on your coccyx when you are sitting.
If you think that weight may be a factor, consult your doctor for diagnosis and medical advice.
Cartilage is a tough, flexible tissue that helps to hold the coccyx in place. As we age, these small disks of cartilage degrade. The coccyx can fuse more tightly together. These age-related factors can put extra stress on the coccyx.
What is the Fastest way to Relieve Tailbone Pain?
Physiotherapy or Athletic Therapy can be an effective way to relieve tailbone pains. A physical therapist can give treatment and exercises to relieve tailbone pain. To treat a sore tailbone, you will want to stretch and to strengthen surrounding muscles and encourage proper alignment to better support the area and improve posture.
Another method to improve good posture and relieve tailbone pain is through simple stretching exercises. Breathe deeply during the slow mindful stretches suggested below. These gentle movements not only help relieve tailbone pain but will encourage relaxation, stimulate blood flow, and benefit your whole body.
Muscle relaxation is an important part of relieving tailbone pain and other body pain. Physiotherapists suggest deep abdominal breathing from the diaphragm. Calming the nervous system helps release pelvic floor tension.
Other options for relief of tailbone pain are:
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Is Walking Good for Coccyx Pain?
Standing or walking can reduce the pressure on your tailbone giving relief to your coccyx pain.
Tailbone Pain Exercises
Few people enjoy exercise when they are in pain. The good news is that tailbone pain exercises are mostly relaxation exercises. While practicing these gentle exercises, put your focus towards engaging the pelvic floor muscles.
Knees to Chest
Lie on your back with your legs bent.
Raise one knee towards your chest as far as you can, and then raise the other to meet it.
Place your hands around your knees and pull them gently towards you until you feel a stretch in your back. Gently push your tailbone towards the floor.
Single Knee to Chest
Lie on your back and bring one knee up to your chest, pulling it gently towards your chest while stretching the other leg forward.
Return to the starting position.
Repeat this exercise alternating the right leg and left leg.
Start on all fours with your back straight, hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips.
Slowly inhale and let the belly fall toward the floor to arch the back and extend the head at the same time.
Slowly exhale, round the back and tuck the chin to the chest.
Alternate between these two positions slowly.
Child's Pose to Cobra Pose
Start on all fours.
Push your buttocks back to your heels extending your arms forward. Then, transition into a cobra pose by moving your hips forward to the ground, straightening your arms and pushing your chest up with your legs flat on the surface.
Alternate between these two positions.
Start on all four. Cross a leg in front. Then, extend the opposite leg behind.
Keep your hips and shoulders facing forward, and your spine straight and tall or lean forwards over your front crossed leg.
Hold the stretch.
Lie on your back and lift one leg to your chest and grab your knee with your opposite hand while the other leg stays straight.
Gently pull your leg across your chest to the opposite shoulder until a stretch is felt deep in the gluteus maximus/piriformis and let your foot hang over the straight leg.
Maintain your pelvis in contact with the floor by applying pressure with the other hand.
Maintain the position and relax.
Lumbar Rotation Exercise
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your arms out to the side for stability. Slowly lower your legs to one side until you feel a gentle stretch. Turn and look in the opposite direction. Return to the central position and repeat to the other side. Keep your knees together during the movement.
Foam Rolling Gluteus Maximus
Place your foam roller on the floor and sit on it having one foot over the opposite knee in a figure 4 position.
Roll along your buttocks in a front to back motion from your lower back to the bottom of the buttocks.
Maintain your abdominal muscles tight and proper lower back posture during the exercise.
Side Angle Pose
This exercise will stretch and strengthen around the entire spine and tailbone.
In this exercise, you will move your legs 3-4 feet apart and turn your back foot out about 90 degrees, keeping it straight. You will then bend the front knee to 90 degrees until your upper thigh is parallel with the floor.
Keeping the heel of the back foot on the ground, breathe out and lean your side towards your front leg. Touch the floor if able, just beside your front foot.
Reach your opposite arm over your head, extending through your entire spine. Maintain the position and breathe deeply.
Reverse the feet and repeat the same exercise for the other side.
Get on your hands and knees with your knees directly under your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders for this exercise.
Your back is straight, and your chin must be tucked in.
Contract your core and glut muscles and then lift one arm and the opposite leg without allowing the trunk or pelvis to move or rotate.
Try to grab something far away in front of you with your hand and touch an imaginary wall far behind you with your foot instead of just lifting them up.
Lower your leg and arm back to the floor and repeat with the other leg and the opposite arm.
In the very end the important thing to remember is that exercise should never cause an increase in pain symptoms. If you experience any sharp or increased pain, you may be pushing yourself too hard. Talk to your Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist to see if any adjustments should be made to your pain relief exercises.
A final tip from the pros... more walking, less sitting!