What is piriformis?
If you are putting up with aching in the bottom and legs, then piriformis stretches may save your day. The Piriformis is a buttock muscle, it’s role is to stabilize the hip and rotate a thigh, making you able to walk (4). Unfortunately, under certain circumstances, it can cause a lot of ache.
What is piriformis syndrome?
Piriformis syndrome is a medical disorder, which takes place when the piriformis pinches the sciatic nerve, as a result of inflammation or tightening. This condition starts with pain or numb feeling in the bottom, as it spreads it may induce complications. Sciatica is a painful feeling that drags along the eponymous nerve, commencing in the hip area and extending along with lower limbs (6). A study by Finnish scientists showed that, although not to a great extent, physical activity can decrease the chance of having this health condition (2). Both above-mentioned conditions are treated by piriformis stretches (5, 3). Such a practice is a piece of cake if you are familiar with yoga.
Types of piriformis stretches
For greater convenience, you may group these stretches into categories according to the initial position, namely lying, standing, and sitting piriformis stretches. The following practices do not require high-level flexibility. Warning: be aware of your body during the process, immediately stop whenever you start feeling any soreness.
Lying piriformis stretches
Supine Piriformis Stretch
While lying down, bend your sore leg and put it on the torso. Use your hand to press the knee to your opposite shoulder. Remain still for 30-60 sec.
Laying on your pain-free side, bend your knees so that from the side your body looked like a letter “L”. As if your legs are a clamshell that is opening and closing, lift the top knee, and put it back down. Continue doing so 15 times.
Standing piriformis stretches
Hip Extension Exercise
Stand on all fours and lift the aching leg backward and up. Put your leg back down. Do it 15 times.
Standing Piriformis Stretch
Stand up, make a letter “P” with your legs so that your unaffected leg is straight, and your target leg is on top of it. Remain like that for 30-60 sec. If you need extra support, you can use a table. Keep your body straight and put your bent target leg on a table.
Sitting piriformis stretches
Long Adductor Stretch
Keep your legs straight and try to spread them as far as your flexibility allows. Tilt your torso forward, hands down, elbows touching the ground. Endure the stretch for 15 sec.
Short Adductor Stretch
Connect your soles in front of your pelvis. Put your crossed hands on the ankles. Press your knees down. Hold for 30 sec. If you feel a sudden pain don’t push any further, your knees do not necessarily have to touch the ground.
A few words about yoga
Yoga is very popular nowadays, and there is a good reason for it. It not only has great value physically, mentally and spiritually but can also be used as a treatment. As was mentioned before, some yoga practices are somewhat like piriformis stretches. They affect the muscle in a similar way and have the same therapeutic effect. A study shows that practicing yoga is safe and even beneficial for people with sciatica as it alleviates its symptoms and improves a general state of the body (1, 7).
A persistent feeling of pain can turn your life into a living hell, that is why it is time to start doing something about it. Mentioned above deep piriformis stretches can ease the suffering or dispose of it completely. Keep in mind, that before getting down to action it is better to consult a physician.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Disc extrusions and bulges in nonspecific low back pain and sciatica: Exploratory randomised controlled trial comparing yoga therapy and normal medical treatment. (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Leisure-time physical activity and sciatica: A systematic review and meta-analysis (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Mayo Clinic Q and A: Sciatica Treatment Options (2016, newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org)
- Piriformis Syndrome (2019, webmd.com)
- Piriformis syndrome, diagnosis and treatment. (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sciatica (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Yoga treatment for chronic non-specific low back pain (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)