That Stubborn Little Muscle

August 23, 2019
Piriformis Muscle photo by Jonas Chiropractor

If you have experienced it you know which muscle I am referring to. It is the tiny flat, pyramid shaped muscle in the gluteal region located just behind the gluteus maximus called the Piriformis.

At some point in your life you have or will experience pain in your buttocks and hip, creating a shortened range in your step. This is referred to as piriformis syndrome which is an irritation of the sciatic nerve- due to pressure from the piriformis muscle causing pain. In about 20% of people the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis instead of below it.

It’s Purpose:

This muscle is essential in lower body movement, it stabilizes the hip joint, helps rotate the thigh away from the body. Allows us to walk and shift from side to side, and it provides us with balance.

What Causes this Syndrome?

Repetitive activity as in long distance running or sitting for long periods at a time (desk work) can irritate this muscle causing inflammation, pain, numbness down the leg, low back pain, leg muscle spasms, and reduced range of motion.

Treatment:

Once you are in pain, it is best to avoid the activity that triggered it in the beginning. Also, rest, ice, and heat can reduce symptoms . In some special cases a visit to a physical therapist may be in order to learn how to build up the surrounding muscles and correcting body mechanics to fix the issue.

Prevention:

Other than building up the muscles and avoiding certain situations that can cause inflammation, you can learn to stretch the muscle properly. One of my personal favorites is the Reclining Pigeon Pose.

            Lie on your back with both feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Rest your right ankle on your left knee and pull your left thigh towards your chest. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds, gradually working up to 30 seconds with each subsequent stretch, then repeat on the other side. Don’t forget to breathe.

Make sure you warm up properly before running or performing lower body movements. Try and avoid running on hills or uneven surfaces.

If you have experienced it you know which muscle I am referring to. It is the tiny flat, pyramid shaped muscle in the gluteal region located just behind the gluteus maximus.

At some point in your life you have or will experience pain in your buttocks and hip, creating a shortened range in your step. This is referred to as piriformis syndrome which is an irritation of the sciatic nerve- due to pressure from the piriformis muscle causing pain. In about 20% of people the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis instead of below it.

It’s Purpose:

This muscle its essential in lower body movement, it stabilizes the hip joint, helps rotate the thigh away from the body. Allows us to walk and shift from side to side, and it provides us with balance.

What Causes this Syndrome?

Repetitive activity as in long distance running or sitting for long periods at a time (desk work) can irritate this muscle causing inflammation, pain, numbness down the leg, low back pain, leg muscle spasms, and reduced range of motion.

Treatment:

Once you are in pain, it is best to avoid the activity that triggered it in the beginning. Also, rest, ice, and heat can reduce symptoms . In some severe cases a visit to a physical therapist may be in order to learn how to build up the surrounding muscles or correcting body mechanics to fix the issue.

Prevention:

Other than building up the muscles and avoiding certain situations that can cause inflammation, you can learn to stretch the muscle properly. One of my personal favorites is the Reclining Pigeon Pose.

            Lie on your back with both feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Rest your right ankle on your left knee and pull your left thigh towards your chest. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds, gradually working up to 30 seconds with each subsequent stretch, then repeat on the other side. Don’t forget to breathe.

Make sure you warm up properly before running or performing lower body movements. Try and avoid running on hills or uneven surfaces.

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