Through this blog I will try and help identify what is a common issue for many runners, sportsmen and women and also just anyone with bad postural habits. Piriformis Syndrome has bothered me for many a year and although it does not stop me training and competing, it can be a literal pain in the butt!
However it is remedied with some simple flexibility training and knowledge.
The piriformis is a small muscle located in the buttock area and hidden deep under your glute muscles it is in close proximity to your sciatic nerve. Sound familliar?!
The piriformis’ job is to rotate the hip externally and it can be aggravated by prolonged sitting, running and lying on your side at night for hours in bed. These can cause it to become overstretched leading to spasm, swelling and tightness. This can press and impinge on the sciatic nerve leading to pain in your butt and lower back.
Pain is typically felt in the lower back, glute and hip during walking or running and if you have been seated for a long time. As I mentioned earlier it tends to affect me from time to time after heavy training and lots of sitting at a desk.
So how do you avoid Piriformis Syndrome or relieve it?
1. Men, don’t sit with your wallet in your back pocket as this presses on the Piriformis causing it to spasm and tighten.
2. Warm up correctly and take your hips through full range in order to activate and lengthen muscles.
3. If you sleep on your side put a pillow between your knees to keep your hips neutral and avoid overstretching the Piriformis muscle.
4. Stretch! Do the following stretches (when warm) when you are warm to help target the Piriformis and relieve or prevent Piriformis Syndrome:
Glute and Piriformis stretch: Lie on your back with your knees up and then cross one leg over the other. Grab your thigh and pull the knee in toward your chest keeping your tail bone pressed into the floor. You should feel the stretch in your butt on the crossed leg.
Glute stretch: lie on your back again and bring one knee up towards your chest and grab the knee with both hands. Pull the knee in towards the chest and across to the opposite shoulder to feel the stretch through your butt and lower back.
To minimize the risk of developing Piriformis Syndrome try and be aware of your posture while sleeping and avoid spending too much time sitting (especially if you’re sitting on your wallet). If it’s too late and you have it already then try the stretches and tips above to relieve it!
Remember that you must consult a physio or osteopath if you are in severe pain and have not been able to relieve the problem with the suggestions above.