Written by: Melanie Talastas-Soriano CAT(C) Athletic Therapist, CFT Fitness Trainer
Three simple ways to alleviate piriformis syndrome
Piriformis syndrome is a neuromuscular condition that causes sciatic nerve impingement due to tight piriformis muscle. This muscle is deep into the buttocks which helps with stabilizing the hip when walking. It also lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. This is why this muscle is important for all lower body movements like climbing stairs, walking, running squatting and lunging.
The sciatic nerve is a thick nerve that is located right under the piriformis muscle. It descends from the low back to the hip, all the way down the back of the knee, which separate into tiny nerves to the foot. Imagine how much of your lower body is affected when a major nerve root is injured or impinged?
Tight piriformis muscle are caused by prolonged sitting, long distance running, prolonged standing, climbing stairs, lunges and /or trauma to the muscle. Whether your daily routines are sedentary or physical, you may be prone to developing piriformis syndrome.
The signs and symptoms for piriformis syndrome are tenderness on the buttocks, numbness or tingling on the buttocks and radiating pain down the back of the leg. These signs and symptoms are identical to the condition called sciatica.
The difference between sciatica and piriformis syndrome is that sciatica is a compression of the sciatic nerve caused by herniated disc or other spinal injuries from the lower lumbar vertebrae. Whereas, piriformis syndrome is a compression of the sciatic nerve caused by a tight piriformis muscle.
Here are three ways to help you alleviate your tight piriformis muscle:
- Trigger point release with a tennis ball: sit on a tennis ball and find that tender piriformis muscle. Move the body around the ball, relaxed and with a good posture. Keep the slow-moving and pressure until the muscle releases.
- Stretch (figure four): after performing the trigger point release, you can stretch the muscle by externally rotating your leg into a figure four. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds repeat 3 times.
- Soft tissue release from your Athletic Therapist: helps to release the deep piriformis muscle using a soft tissue release technique as it focuses on the trigger point and the piriformis stretch.