The tailbone, or coccyx, is at the base of the spine. Various stretches, lifestyle, and medical remedies may help manage tailbone pain. Pain may be due to an injury, pregnancy, or prolonged sitting.
Persistent tailbone pain is known as coccydynia. If the tailbone is sore and inflamed, overactivity of the pelvic floor and hip-opening muscles can worsen pain symptoms.
Performing specific stretches may help to relieve tension in the tailbone. This article will cover stretches that people can use to relieve pain.
These exercises reduced the participants’ pain when sitting and increased the pressure they could withstand on the lower back before feeling pain.
The exercises listed below may help relieve tailbone pain.
Learn more about tailbone pain.
1. Single-leg knee hug
This stretches the piriformis and the iliopsoas muscles, 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.
Increasing the stretch gradually over time will allow a person’s range of movement to expand.
- Lie down on the back.
- Bend one knee toward the chest.
- Extend the feet straight out, if tolerable.
- Hold onto the bent knee and pull it gently down into the chest.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
2. Figure 4 stretch (piriformis and glute cross leg stretch)
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.
- Lie down on the back.
- Raise the knees toward the ceiling, keeping the feet flat on the floor.
- Bend the left leg closer into the body and rest the left ankle across the right knee.
- Loop the hands around the right thigh and gently pull it toward the chest for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
3. Kneeling hip flexor stretch
A person can stretch these muscles, which often become stiff with prolonged sitting.
- Kneeling upright on the floor, move one leg in front and place the foot flat on the floor. The thigh should be at a 90-degree angle to the shin.
- Rest the shin and knee of the back leg on the ground with the toes pointing backward. Placing a towel under the back knee may be necessary for comfort.
- With the chest upright, rest the hands on the hips for stability.
- Tuck the pelvis under and lean forward slightly.
- Note: It is easy to overlean into this stretch. It is safer to maintain a pelvic tilt instead.
- Hold the stretch for 20–30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
4. Kneel and twist
The kneel-and-twist exercise stretches the iliopsoas while also improving mobility through the lower back.
- Start in the same position as the kneeling psoas stretch with the front leg bent at a 90-degree angle in front of the body and the knee and shin of the back leg on the ground.
- Keeping the body upright, raise the arms to shoulder height out to the side.
- Focus on tucking the shoulder blades down and back to prevent the shoulders from rising.
- From the torso, rotate slowly toward the left side of the body until the arms are almost in line with the legs. Then slowly return to the center and rotate toward the right side.
- Rotate four to five times to each side, only turning as far as possible without any pain.
5. Pigeon’s Pose (iliopsoas and glute stretch)
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 unsuitable for people with knee problems, and the figure 4 stretch is a suitable alternative.
- Begin on all fours with the hands slightly in front of the shoulders and shoulder distance apart.
- Bring the right knee forward and place it slightly behind and to the left of the right hand, with the ankle pointing toward the left hip bone.
- Slide the left leg back and keep it straight so the thigh faces down toward the floor. If the hips are not square, tuck the back toe under to correct this.
- Lower the torso forward and rest on folded arms to increase the stretch if necessary.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
6. Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is another yoga pose. This stretch lengthens the spine, easing lower back pain and targeting hip muscles in addition to muscles in the pelvic floor. A person usually does this stretch on their knees. To avoid discomfort, a person can kneel on a mat or towel.
- Begin kneeling with the knees spread, sitting back on the heels.
- Place both hands flat on the floor and slowly slide the arms and body forward, keeping the head facing down.
- Continue slowly shifting forward to extend the arms fully. If possible, bring the forehead to the floor.
- Note: Crawl arms to each side and hold for a lateral stretch.
- Rest in this position for 20–30 seconds.
The exercises outlined above intend to 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.
Learn about stretches for tight hips.
Coccydynia is persistent tailbone pain. It can occur for various reasons, such as prolonged sitting or injury. Gentle stretching can loosen tight muscles surrounding the tailbone that can cause pain.
It is important that people do not overstretch, and they should stay within their range of motion. Range of motion should gradually increase with regular stretching.
- Causes: Coccydynia (tailbone pain). (2022). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tailbone-pain-coccydynia/causes/
- Chang C, et al. (2022). Anatomy, bony pelvis and lower limb, piriformis muscle.
- Lifshitz L, et al. (2020). Iliopsoas the hidden muscle: Anatomy, diagnosis, and treatment. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/fulltext/2020/06000/iliopsoas_the_hidden_muscle__anatomy,_diagnosis,.11.aspx
- Mohanty PP, et al. (2017). Effect of stretching of piriformis and iliopsoas in coccydynia. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1360859217300499
- Neville, CE, et al. (2021). Association of coccygodynia with pelvic floor symptoms in women with pelvic pain.