Lower back pain is extremely common problem these days and can be caused by a wide plethora of causes. Constriction of the piriformis muscle is not something that people would think of, but it happens to be one of the primary causes very often.
This muscle is located behind the gluteus maximus and it connects the spine to the top of the femur. If it gets pulled, spasms, tightens, or becomes inflamed, an effective stretch can alleviate the pain.
What is the Piriformis?
The piriformis muscle is located behind the largest muscle in the body, which makes it difficult to get to. It covers the sciatic nerve and it allows us to move the foot, upper leg, and hip outward from the body.
What Causes Piriformis Syndrome?
This term was coined in 1947 and it was not identified as specific problem at that time. But since then, lower back pain caused by an impinged piriformis has been classified as a true condition, accounting for 6-8% of the lower back pain cases.
Tingling, numbness, and pain can occurs if this muscle puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. The pain is typically manifested as shooting pain in the back, hip, buttocks, and legs.
What a Healthy Piriformis Can Do For You
“Here is a way to feel the piriformis muscle at work. Stand with your feet together, your knees bent and your butt stuck out a little. Put your hands on your butt and draw your knees apart slightly. Your piriformis muscle should be working beneath your big gluteal muscles,” writes Core Walking.
A healthy piriformis reduces the risk for sciatica, keeps you mobile and flexible, and allows you to perform simple activities like running and dancing.
How To Get a Deep Piriformis Stretch With These 12 Exercises
1. Supine Piriformis Stretches
- Lie on the back, put the hand on the same side of the knee, and keep the other on the raised level
- Raise the knee toward the shoulder and then cross the calf across the body
- Hold for five seconds before releasing
- Repeat the procedure with the other leg
2. Standing Piriformis Stretch
- Stand with the back against the wall and then walk the feet forward
- Place the knees over the ankles and then lower the hips 45 degrees toward the floor
- Raise the right foot off the floor and place it outside of the ankle on the left knee
- Lean forward and lower the chest toward the knees
- Hold for 30-60 seconds
- Switch legs and repeat
3. Outer Hip Piriformis Stretch
- Lie on the back with the right knee bent
- Pull the knee over to the left side using the left hand
- Hold for a few seconds, repeat three times, and stretch three times daily
4. Long Adductor (Groin) Stretch
- Sit on the floor and stretch the legs out
- Tilt forwards at the hips and put the hands next to each other
- Lean forward and drop the elbows to the floor
- Hold for a few seconds and then release
5. Short Adductor ( Inner Thigh) Muscle Stretch)
- Sit on the floor and place the soles of the feet together
- Apply pressure to the knees using your elbows
- For deeper stretch, lean forward and keep the back straight
- Hold the position for half a minute and then release
- Repeat a few times in a row and stretch three times daily
6. Muscle Energy Technique
- Lie on the belly and bend one leg
- Rotate the bent leg outwards as far as possible
- Apply gentle pressure to the piriformis from side to side for a few seconds
7. Resistance Band Abduction
- Stand with the end of the band tied around the right ankle and the other attached to a fixed object
- Move the right leg out to the side
- Return the leg back to the center
- Repeat 15 times and work your way up to 2 sets of 20 repetitions
8. Side Lying Clam Exercise
- Lie on the side with the hip to be stretched on top
- Bend the knees and place them forward, keeping the feet in line with the spine
- Raise the top knee away from the bottom one, keeping the ankles together
- Go back to the original position
- Repeat 15 times a day
9. Hip Extension Exercise
- Sit on the floor on all fours with the shoulders over the hands
- Raise the knee off the floor, keeping the knee bent
- Lower the leg, repeat 15 times, and work your way up to 2 sets of 20 repetitions
10. Supine Piriformis Side Stretch
- Lie on the floor, lift the affected leg and put that foot outside the opposite knee
- Pull the knee of the bent leg across the midline with the opposite hand or a towel
- Hold for half a minute and then go back to the original position
- Switch legs and repeat
11. Buttocks Stretch for the Piriformis Muscle
- Sit on all fours, put the affected foot across the trunk of the body
- Extend the non-affected leg, keeping the pelvis straight
- Scoot the hips backwards towards the floor and lean forward
- Hold the stretch for half a minute, go back to the original position, and do a set of three stretches
12. Seated Stretch
- Sit on the floor and cross the right leg over the left knee
- Bend forwards and keep the back straight
- Hold for a minute and then repeat the procedure on the opposite side
“A gentle stretch relaxes the muscles, letting them release and grow longer. But too intense a stretch can actually create an inflammatory response…meaning your body is trying to repair damage. Any time you cause pain, you actually cause tissue damage,” warns Best Health Mag.