If you’re familiar with anatomy and physiology, you’ve probably heard of the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle runs from your spine to thigh bone, making it a crucial part of the posterior chain. The main function of the piriformis is to help the femur externally rotate and abduct. As you can most likely guess, it’s a critical muscle and it’s important that it functions correctly.
It’s not uncommon to feel tightness in the piriformis region. If this, or inflammation, happens, it can cause pain and a range of other physical issues. Most people have heard of the piriformis muscle because of a particular issue that some experience. It’s called Piriformis syndrome.
Piriformis syndrome is an issue that happens when the piriformis muscle impacts the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs along the piriformis muscle and continues to go down the leg and into the foot. Sometimes the piriformis can compress the nerve causing this syndrome to occur.
The most common symptom of this syndrome is sciatica. Sciatica is a burning or stabbing feeling that can radiate from the lower back, down the leg and into the foot. This pain is usually severe and debilitating. The duration of the symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.
Unfortunately, there’s no specific test for piriformis syndrome. You can work closely with your doctor to determine the source of your pain. Some common causes of this syndrome are the following: injury, over-exercising, long periods of sitting, abnormal anatomy, or prior hip surgery.
According to Harvard Health, treatment can include exercise, physical therapy and stretching. We definitely recommend seeking out an experienced physical therapist so you can work closely to address the root cause of the pain.
Not everyone has Piriformis syndrome. Sometimes, it’s just a general feeling of tightness that occurs. If this is what you’re experiencing, you may not require a doctor or physical therapist (although either of those are never a bad idea whether you’re healthy or injured). You may just need to take some specific time in your day to do some stretching.
You should never be afraid to perform some at-home body maintenance like stretching or basic exercising. The important thing is to know how to do it correctly. Stretching is a good, cost-effective place to start. Make a commitment to spending at least 10-15 minutes a day working through these movements. The sooner you can develop a routine with this, the sooner you can be on your way to feeling like your old self.
Unfortunately, for many people, pain is a part of their daily routine. But in some cases, it doesn’t have to be. If you have questions or concerns, always consult your personal healthcare professional. But, in the meantime, keep on top of it with the stretches below.