The Piriformis Stretch

piriformis stretchMany people suffer from hip and lower back problems.  The piriformis muscle is generally involved in these areas of the body, since it attaches to the outside region of the hip and scarum, located in the deep area of the buttocks.

This is why the piriformis stretch can be very useful for places like the glutes and hamstrings.  A tight piriformis muscle will increase a pulling sensation on the sacrum bone, which is often associated with lower back pain.

If this tugging continues, more stress is placed around the sacro-iliac joint, which in essence, will create even more pain.


The sciatic nerve will typically pass through the piriformis muscle or beneath it, causing either sciatica or lower back pain. Since the piriformis is so deep, it can be quite painful and a tough area to target. Fortunately, StretchingExerciseSite.com has included different ways to stretch the piriformis muscle. Take a look…

Piriformis Stretch
Lay down on your back bending both knees. On the opposite knee, place your ankle on the side you want to stretch, and slowly push your knee away from your body.

Make sure your hand is placed on your knee on the same stretching side. Piriformis stretching exercises are safe and effective if done with proper form.

Sciatica Back Stretches
Sciatica stretches must be done regularly, usually two or three times a day, and performed using the right form. Stretching the piriformis muscle, hip extensor muscles, and hamstrings, can help relieve pain running along the sciatic nerve and help contribute to a normal range of motion once again.

Supine Piriformis Sciatica Stretches
By pulling the affected leg by the knee toward your chest while lying flat on your back, you can hold your knee with one hand and grasp your ankle with the opposite hand without forcing it until the stretch is felt.

Generally supine piriformis stretches can be held up to 30 seconds at a time. Complete these sciatica stretches up to three sets each.

Buttocks Stretch
This stretch can aid the piriformis muscle. Your stationary position is on all fours, and is followed by placing the affected foot underneath and across the body, causing the affected knee to lie outside the body.

As you bring your hips back to the floor, slowly extend the non-affected leg behind the trunk while keeping your pelvis aligned. Use your forearms to lean forward until you feel a good stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat this buttocks stretch three times. Ultimately this will loosen up the gluteus and hamstring muscles.

A tight piriformis can place a tremendous amount of stress on the sciatic nerve and result in severe lower back pain or sciatica. Any of the above stretches for the piriformis will help relieve this low back pain, but remember not to start off on these recommended stretches too aggressively as this may worsen the pain.

Resources:

Hub Pages: Piriformis Stretching – http://lrgoodman.hubpages.com/hub/The-Piriformis-Stretch

Rice.edu: Piriformis Muscle Syndrome – http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/piri.html

Wikipedia: Piriformis Muscle – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piriformis_muscle

Fitness Blender: Sciatica Back Stretch
http://www.fitnessblender.com/v/exercise-detail/Lower-Back-Stretches-for-Sciatica-Pain/88/


5 Responses to “The Piriformis Stretch”

  1. Dave says:

    My knee seems to give out when I run on the treadmill. What alternatives should I seek?

    • JonJ says:

      Hi Dave,

      The ball and socket joint of the knee can be a real pain, no pun intended.

      With proper warm ups and stretching of the legs, you will minimize any potential injury to the knee. Additionally, keeping your hip rotator powerful and flexible should also help to prevent any set backs to the knee. Try the simple piriformis chair stretch to start off.

      Best of luck!

  2. Antawn says:

    Hey, I’m a basketball player and had a strange leg injury. Apparently I’ve torn my piriformis. Wondering how long it will take to heal this injury.

    Antawn

    • JonJ says:

      Hi Antawn, sorry to hear about your leg injury. The piriformis heals at different rates. It all depends on the extent and degree of your injury and how healthy you were prior to the injury. I suggest continuing to see your doctor or physio, and just take each day at a time. The last thing you want to do is to get back on the court too soon which may cause further and more serious damage.

      Jon

  3. Antawn says:

    My physio has said I’ve shown great improvements over the past few weeks and fortunately my injury is physical with no nerve damage. Been rolling on a tennis ball and using some of your stretches mentioned on the site. Thanks!

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