Musicians' Health Collective

Musicians' Health Collective: Supporting the health of musicians (and normal people)

Help-I bruised my tailbone!

It's embarrassing sometimes to admit, but I have bruised my tailbone...twice.  Neither time was particularly graceful, and both times involved falling on my tailbone, and that's all I'll say about that.  Clumsiness aside, bruising your tailbone, technically called your coccyx, is incredibly painful, especially if you have to sit for a living.  In the last 3 weeks, 3 different colleagues have talked to me about past or present tailbone pain, and the difficulties and discomfort of bruising what seems like your butt, but is really the culmination of your spine.

So how does one bruise a tailbone?  Good question.  A bruised tailbone can be an injury to the tailbone itself or the tissues surrounding it.  It will likely hurt the most when sitting.

1.  Sudden impact- this can mean falling in any capacity, whether in a contact sport, or in day to day life.  If someone pulls a chair out from underneath you, you would fall, most likely on your tailbone.  Sports such as soccer and football can also lead to similar falls.

2.  Repetitive strain- horseback riding, biking, rowing, anything that puts the torso forward of the pelvis could strain the ligaments surrounding the sacrum and coccyx.  In horseback riding and mountain biking, the bouncing and jostling can also catalyze discomfort or damage.  

3.  Childbirth and pregnancy can also lead to strain for the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the tailbone.

What will help with the pain and discomfort?

1. Wear flat shoes.  Any elevation in the shoe heel will change the angle of the pelvis and change the load on tissues surrounding the tailbone including the pelvic floor. 

One of these  cut-out cushions  could help relieve some of the pain of sitting.

One of these cut-out cushions could help relieve some of the pain of sitting.

2.  Consider sitting on an elevated cushion to help keep the pelvis in neutral while seated.  While different cushions will work for different people, even a rolled up towel on the back part of your car seat or orchestra cushion can help.

3. Heat therapy can help any back spasms or hip discomfort triggered by the bruising. Icing could aggravate the issues, as pointed out in this article.

4. Acupuncture around the back and hips can also be helpful- I've personally found it to be great for addressing my back issues in general.

5.  Initially, you won't want to or need to massage the tissues surrounding the tailbone or low back.  Once the acute pain has diminished, having a skilled bodyworker address your low back and hips can be really helpful.  You can also start to self-massage with a soft implement (no lacrosse balls!), like a tennis ball or YTU ball at the wall. 

6.  Walking can be a great movement option for your back and pelvis when other forms of exercise are too painful. (Assuming you're wearing flat shoes while walking!)

7.  See a medical professional- although my doctor prescribed painkillers and told me it would get better eventually, your doctor might have a few better options for your recovery, including PT, insurance covered acupuncture, or insurance covered medical massage.

8.  Strengthen the other muscles of your back.  For me, this was really important once the acute pain diminished.  I found that low back strengtheners like locust pose, baby cobra, and sphinx helped with my pain but also improved my proprioception of my back as a whole, and paved the way for a stronger back post recovery.

9. Sit better, making sure that you're sitting on your ischial tuberosities and not your tailbone!  Perhaps you can sit less too?

Although tailbone pain can be embarrassing, it's not uncommon!  Be patient with yourself as you recover and know that the pain will dissipate with time.

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