Four effective stretching exercises against the Piriformis syndrome and sciatica pain
February 22, 2018
The good news: Pains in the buttocks area that indicate piriformis syndrome are not a one-way street – you can do something about it!
- Which exercises help with the Piriformis syndrome?
- How can I get the piriformis?
- How to treat the piriformis syndrome
- Are there stretching exercises against the Piriformis syndrome?
Mobilizing movements against the Piriformis syndrome
Mobilizing movements for the pelvis and the hip stimulate the metabolism and accelerate the recovery. Do not put your feet up now to wait for the syndrome to go away by itself. Especially the local stretches and the myofascial relaxing for the piriformis lead quite quickly to a relief. The next step is then to remain pain-free in the long term. These include regular stretches of the piriformis and the entire hip-surrounding musculature. Afterwards, weight training is important to counteract the consequences of overstress. But at the very beginning is the cause research. In most cases, piriformis syndrome is not caused by obvious causes, such as a fall. In most cases, it is due to holding and stress. It is therefore important to get to the bottom of the causes in order to become and stay symptom free in the long term.
Piriformis muscle: release tension
Local stretches for the piriformis
We start with stretching exercises that specifically address the piriformis muscle. These help in the acute case very well to relieve the pain, and are recommended for days that you spend mostly sitting, because they provide in the buttocks area for relaxation. With the exercises, you also reach the slightly more superficial buttocks muscles. Both muscle groups are in close proximity and perform similar tasks for the most part.
Recommendations for stretching with Piriformis syndrome
How long should I stay in the stretch position?
The Piriformis is a hip stabilizer that sits very low and provides sustained support, so the stretch must be kept for at least a minute – preferably a little longer.
Which stretching method should I choose?
We recommend that you stretch passively. This means that you stay in one position for a certain amount of time (at least 60 seconds) and use your own body weight, gravity and the interplay of different muscles to create a stretch tension. Due to the long hold, the connective tissue is also addressed. Only stretch the painful side? Switch to the other side after each exercise. All exercises are designed to run on both sides. Stay with full attention during stretching and notice differences between the right and left sides.
Stretching in the supine position is particularly pleasant and soothes pain, since you do not have to fight with the balance or the upright posture here. You can indulge in gravity and enjoy the stretching for a long time.
How can I get the piriformis?
With any type of hip flexion, you can reach the piriformis to a degree. The Piriformis is a short and strong outer rotator and a rather weak abductor when the hips are bent. That is, the piriformis works away from the center of the body when you turn the leg outward. This is called external rotation.
Think of a ballet dancer or Charlie Chaplin. In addition to the external rotation as the main task, he also supports the abduction, which means the spreading of the leg to the outside. So if we want to stretch the piriformis, we have to counteract the “working direction” to get length into the muscle. Because of its function as a strong external rotator, it is important to internally rotate the thigh in the hip to maximally stretch the piriformis (see the exercise “Knee to the opposite shoulder”). Hip flexion in combination with external rotation primarily affects the gluteal muscles (see the “Tying the buttocks” exercise). The combination of both stretches, buttocks and piriformis, brings the best results.
Good to know
Before it goes on the stretching exercises, briefly something in their own right: Our training experts Katharina Brinkmann and Nicolai Napolski have written the first guidebook, dealing with the Piriformis syndrome decidedly. The authors have not only collected the most important information on background and genesis, but also developed a specially adapted to the piriformis syndrome exercise concept that presents simple and effective techniques that stretch the shortened muscle, strengthen the pelvic girdle and correct postural damage can. This will teach you how to treat the Piriformis syndrome yourself, so that your pain will soon be a thing of the past.
With these exercises you can reach the Piriformis very specifically:
Knee to the opposite shoulder
The thigh here comes into adduction and internal rotation. Pull the left leg at an angle to the upper body. The knee forms a right angle. The right leg is stretched out on the mat or you put your foot close to the buttocks. This second variant relieves the lower back slightly. Grasp your left knee with your right hand and pull it towards the right shoulder. Maintain the right angle in the knee joint. The left buttock half and the shoulders remain on the mat.
Tying the buttocks
Place both feet close to the buttocks. Place the left ankle with the outside on the right thigh. The left knee points outwards. Grasp the right thigh at the back with both hands and pull the right leg as far as comfortable to the upper body ran. You should feel a comfortable stretch on the buttock culture of the right leg.
As you pull your thigh toward you, at the same time push the legs down and press your lower back against the mat.
Now pull the right thigh a bit to the right, thus you reach the targeted Piriformis.
Make sure that your shoulders and your head lie relaxed on the mat.
Tip! If you still can not grab your thigh, try this variant:
Grasp your right knee with your left hand and your left ankle with your right hand. Pull the lower leg diagonally towards you – as far as it is comfortable for you. Pull the leg a little to the left, and your piriformis will be optimally addressed.
Pull the left leg at an angle to the upper body. The other leg is stretched out on the mat. Grasp the left knee outside with your right hand. Gently pull your left knee to the right side and place it on the floor or on a pillow. Lift the buttocks briefly and turn the pelvis slightly to the right. Extend your left arm to the side and turn your upper body to the left side. Slide your left shoulder towards the mat. The ribs of the left side of the ribcage descend to the lower left. Draw all the attention there and sink more and more.
Tip: Make sure that your lower leg is stretched, which will allow you to lower the upper leg more and perhaps rotate it in a bit further in order to better reach Piriformis and Co.
The pigeon is probably one of the most common exercises for the piriformis – rightly! In this passive, relatively relaxed position, the hips are maximally flexed and the strain in the buttocks of the front leg is most intense. Come to the quadruped stand. Pull the right knee forward to the right hand. The left leg stretch as far back as possible.
The left bar widens and sinks down. The left leg lies completely with the front on the mat. Place your right lower leg diagonally on the mat in front of you so that the right knee is behind the right elbow and the right foot is on the left hip bone. Lie with your upper body forward on your forearms. Give your body some time to get soft. After about 30 seconds, you can lay down completely with the upper body and extend your arms forward.
Attention: Beware of knee problems! The greater you choose the angle in the anterior knee joint in this exercise, the more intense the stretch in the gluteal muscle. The smaller the angle, the lower the elongation. But beware: If you miss the mobility in the hip at a large angle, strong shearing forces on the knee. Therefore: slowly approach.
If you feel pressure on the back of your knee, you can put the toe on the back to reduce pressure. Try it!
Why stretching alone does not help
Although stretching exercises help to relieve tension, success usually lasts only a short time because these exercises work on the symptom, not the cause. The muscle remains powerless, and the stresses and strains return quickly through everyday stress. The reason: The muscle is tense, because he is overwhelmed by overload, stress or poor posture. The piriformis muscle as well as the neighboring muscles can no longer fulfill their task and “resign themselves”. Therefore, it is important to strengthen these muscles in the long term, so they can work more efficiently.