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Piriformis Muscle

Ever feel that pain in your bum? It could be a tight Piriformis muscle.

The piriformis muscle is located in your buttocks. It is a small muscle that starts in your lower spine and passes through your greater sciatic notch. It then attaches to the upper part of each of your femurs. The piriformis muscle runs diagonally on the back of the pelvis along with the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve passes underneath the piriformis muscle and down the back of the leg. However, for some people all or part of their sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle. A common example of the movement created from this muscle is the rotation of the hips and outward rotation of the leg and foot.

One reason it is important to maintain the length of the piriformis is that most of the large nerves that come out of our low back spine have to run through this muscle. These are the nerves to our internal organs, pelvic organs, and many of the major nerves to our legs. If there is tension in the area these nerves can be compressed as they travel through the muscles. Because of this, a tight piriformis can cause dull pain in the buttocks, when walking at an incline, after sitting for a long time or numbness/tingling in the thigh, calf or foot.

Some Stretches for the Piriformis

  • Lie on the back with both feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Pull the right knee up to the chest, grasp the knee with the left hand and pull it towards the left shoulder and hold the stretch. Hold this pose for 30 seconds. Repeat for each side.

  • Lie on the back with both feet flat on the floor and both knees bent. Rest the ankle of the right leg over the knee of the left leg. Clasp your hands behind the left thigh and pull the left thigh towards the chest and hold the stretch. Repeat for each side.

  • Sit on a chair and place the heel of one leg on another chair. Bending at the hips, lean forward, until a gentle stretch along the back of the thigh is felt, and hold the stretch.

  • Lie on the back with both legs straight on the floor. Pull one leg up and straighten by holding on to a yoga strap or lower wrapped behind the foot until a mild stretch along the back of the thigh is felt.

Yoga poses for the Piriformis

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)

  • Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

  • Gomukhasana (Cow-Face Pose)

  • Virasana (Hero Pose)

  • Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose)

Next week: psoas muscle

Give those exercises a try and let us know how it felt in the comments.

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