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Piriformis Stretch: How to Shake Up Your Piriformis Muscle

Piriformis syndrome may be caused by a number of things such as injury, vigorous exercise, or sitting for a long time. One of the best ways to treat and prevent piriformis syndrome is with piriformis stretches.

Why does pain in the piriformis muscle occur?

Muscle spasms are never pleasant, but they are even worse when the spasm occurs in a muscle that’s close to a nerve. When the piriformis muscle becomes tight or starts to spasm, it can cause irritation to the muscle itself, resulting in buttock pain. However, when the muscle spasms or becomes inflamed or swollen, it can also affect the sciatic nerve, which passes directly behind the piriformis muscle.  

The sciatic nerve is responsible for supplying sensation to the entire back of the leg all the way down to the foot. When compressed by the piriformis muscle, it causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the buttock and down the back of the leg.

Piriformis muscle stretches can help to relax the muscle, taking pressure off the sciatic nerve and relieving pain associated with this condition. 

Top practices for piriformis muscle stretch 

Stretching and movement go a long way when it comes to tight or injured muscles. Although the piriformis is a deep muscle, many piriformis stretches are uncomplicated and easy to perform. The following piriformis muscle stretches may help to relieve discomfort and pain associated with a tight piriformis muscle. 

Seated piriformis stretches

Seated Piriformis Chair Stretch

To perform a seated piriformis stretch, start with good posture. Sit on the edge of your chair with your back straight and your shoulders back but relaxed. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Place your left ankle on your right thigh, close to the knee and flex your left foot. Gently press down on the inside of your left knee as you lean forward until you feel a stretch in the hips. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then switch sides. 

Seated Piriformis Floor Stretch

One of the simplest ways to perform a seated piriformis stretch is to sit cross-legged on the floor. Sit up straight with your shoulder blades down and back, hips open. Gently press your knees down for a more effective stretch.

Piriformis stretch lying down

For a more intense piriformis stretch, you may want to consider a lying stretch on the floor. Start by lying in a supine position with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your left ankle on your right thigh, close to the knee. Lift your right foot off the floor, bringing your leg toward you as you gently press on the inside of your left knee. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then switch sides. 

Piriformis stretch yoga 

There are many yoga poses that are excellent for stretching the piriformis and surrounding muscles. In fact, you’ll get more benefits than just a good piriformis stretch. Yoga is not only beneficial for the entire body — it’s also proven to help lift your mood, ease tension, improve quality of sleep, and increase self-esteem. 

You may consider doing the following yoga poses for an amazing piriformis stretch. 

Pigeon Pose

The pigeon pose is in a family of poses called “hip openers.” It helps to increase flexibility and mobility in the hips by stretching muscles in that area. If you’re wondering how to stretch the piriformis muscle, pigeon pose is a sure way. 

Begin on all fours and bring your right knee toward your right wrist. Your right ankle should be positioned in front of your left hip. Slide your left leg back, pointing your toes with your heel pointing up to the ceiling. Adjust your legs so that your hips are aligned and lean forward onto your fingertips. Walk your hands forward, bringing your body to the floor. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and slowly walk yourself back to an upright position with your hands. Repeat on the other side. 

Simple Seated Twist

Subtle yet effective, the seated twist is an excellent piriformis stretch. Yoga poses such as these are simple to perform, but they stretch the whole body, increasing flexibility in the hips, knees, ankles, back, shoulders, and chest. 

The variation known as Half Lord of the Fishes is especially fitting for focus on the piriformis muscle. Start in a seated position with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right glute. Lay your left leg down on the floor. Move your right foot over the left leg and place it next to your left hip. 

Twist toward your left foot, placing your right hand behind your right buttock. Your left arm should go on the outside of your right thigh. Press your right foot into the ground and twist your torso. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute and switch sides.

Child’s Pose

One of the simplest, most relaxing yoga poses that you can do to stretch your piriformis is child’s pose. 

Begin in a tabletop position with your hands on the floor directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Bring your legs together, then lower your hips down to your heels and stretch your hands out in front of you. If you can, bring your forehead down to the floor. Then, bring your arms to your sides, resting your hands next to your feet, palms facing up toward the ceiling. Hold the pose for one minute. 

Summing up piriformis stretches 

Too much of anything can be bad for your body. When you exercise too often, exert yourself too much, or sit for too long, you risk causing damage to your bones and muscles — including the piriformis muscle. To keep your body strong and flexible, stay hydrated; avoid sitting for longer than a half hour at a time; and exercise regularly, alternating between cardio and strength training. Remember to always stretch before and after exercising and in between long sessions of sitting. If the pain becomes severe and limits you from performing daily tasks, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/ask-dr-rob-about-piriformis-syndrome

https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/piriformis-muscle-stretch-and-physical-therapy

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