What is the piriformis?
The piriformis (Figure 1) is a small muscle located deep beneath the gluteal muscles (or buttocks), it's origin (starting point) is at the lower spine (sacrum) and it's insertion (ending point) is at the top of the femur. When the piriformis contracts it rotates the leg and foot outward.
Why does the piriformis need to be stretched?
In 2019, 26 million Americans will suffer from back pain, 5 million of those will have a condition know as piriformis syndrome. Stretching the piriformis can alleviate the symptoms.
What does piriformis syndrome feel like (symptoms)?
Piriformis syndrome is often misdiagnosed as a herniated disk because it has many of the same symptoms.
Muscle spasm, tightening or swelling of the piriformis muscle can result in pressure on the sciatic nerve cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot.
What causes piriformis syndrome?
Piriformis syndrome is the result of injury from a wide range of circumstaces including too much activity (road work) or long hours in a seated position (heavy equipment operator or working in the office). We are all at risk!
How do I stretch the piriformis?
Stretching the piriformis can be done from a standing, sitting or lying position. Figure 2a and 2b are examples of a seated piriformis stretch:
- Sit down and cross one leg over the other placing your ankle on your thigh.
- Grasp your ankle and gently pull it back toward your hip.
- a) Take your knee with the opposite hand and gently pull it toward your chin until you feel a pull in your glute or buttocks (hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times). b) Next, from the same position, place the hand to the inside of the knee and gently push it down opening up the hip (hold the stretch 15-30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times). Repeat both stretch positions on the opposite leg.