Greetings to you in the new year and guess what, that pain you have in your hip and buttocks is still there and was not left in the old year. Yep, it’s literally a pain in the butt. Well, did you know that a cause of that pain can be from a muscle called the piriformis? Yes, that is a word and a key part of your human anatomy. Let’s take a look at this muscle’s origins, its responsibility, and how to relax it.

The piriformis originates at the anterior sacrum and inserts on the greater trochanter of the femur. The piriformis is responsible for external rotation at the hip. When your hip is raised to 90 degrees of flexion, the piriformis is responsible for horizontal abduction. When your hip rises above 90 degrees of flexion, the piriformis causes internal rotation. In other words, this muscle is near the top of the hip joint and attaches to your thigh bone. This muscle is important in lower body movement because it stabilizes the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. This enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another, and maintain balance. It is also used in sports that involve lifting and rotating the thighs.

Piriformis syndrome usually starts with pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks. Pain can be severe and extend down the length of the sciatic nerve. The pain is due to the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve, such as while sitting for long periods of time, running, and triggered while climbing stairs.

This muscle has a propensity to get over activated which then causes it to pinch the sciatic nerve. There is a particular machine that was designed to help strengthen the outer muscles of the hip and thigh but is causing more harm than good. This machine is the hip abduction machine that is over activating the piriformis.

There are a few exercises that you can do to stretch and release this muscle. With each activity make sure to go at your pace and monitor any pain you feel. You can use a foam roller or a softball to help release this muscle. You need to sit on the foam roller, then cross your right leg so that your right ankle is resting on your left thigh. Next, you roll on the foam roller with your right buttock cheek until you find the tender spot or sensitive area. This is where the release will take place. Make sure you are not muscle guarding or tensing up to protect this sensitive area. You have to relax in order to get the benefit. You must roll in that position to get deep into that sensitive area. It takes about 30 seconds up to 2 minutes so make sure you are in a comfortable position. This is a skill that does take practice and may take repeat sessions. Do not worry or get frustrated. You must roll at your pain tolerance. If you begin to feel numbness or tingling, you have gone too far and you are putting pressure on your sciatic nerve. As you complete one side of your body, make sure you foam roll the opposite side.

When looking for a more intense release, you can use a smaller more concentrated approach with a softball. This is a way to go deeper in the muscle since you are using an object with a smaller surface area. The session will be intense but should not be unbearable. The objective is to release the muscle not to see how much pain you can withstand. After all, the reason why you are rolling is to reduce these trigger points which is a huge increase of quality of your movement patterns over time.

Think about how much better your body will function without that radiating pain in your hip or buttocks. Think about how you will not have to compensate by sitting in a certain way that does not cause you pain. Is it really no pain, no gain? In this case, the objective is to alleviate your pain, help you function more efficiently, and reach your goals. Call us now at 855-734-4878. We are here to help you.


Brent Brookbush – Brookbush Institute of Human Movement Science
WebMD Medical Reference – Piriformis Syndrome

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