A tight piriformis muscle is a problem: when the muscle that runs adjacent to the sciatic nerve becomes irritated, so to does the sciatic nerve, the nerve responsible for communicating with muscles in the back side of the lower body. It is important to distinguish piriformis syndrome from other problems that could be creating similar symptoms, and in this respect we can help.
Piriformis syndrome is typically characterized by a sore butt, or dull aching in the sacrum region and at the tops of the femurs. This can also contribute to sciatica which is characterized by numbness and tingling in the legs, pain and stiffness in the back side which can make it difficult to stand up. If we determine that piriformis syndrome may be contributing to sciatica or just causing you discomfort, we can move forward with a chiropractic treatment plan that helps restore the function and mobility of pelvic and spinal joints, and includes trigger point therapy that releases the tension from the muscles. Following up with simple stretching and exercise ensures you have the best chance of overcoming piriformis syndrome. Here are 2 simple stretches to be done from home:
- Lay on your back with legs extended and feet flexed. Slowly draw one knee up and clasp both hands behind it. Pull this knee toward the opposite shoulder until you feel resistance and hold for 30 seconds. This constitutes 1 rep and should be repeated 3 times with each leg.
- Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Rest the right ankle over the knee of the left leg and pull the left thigh toward your chest. Hold this stretch for up to 30 seconds and repeat on each side up to 3 times.
With stretching, consistency is key. Try devoting 5 minutes before bed and when you wake up to these easy stretches and feel how the built up tension in the piriformis muscle dissipates.
Dr. Randall Holmes, D.C.