Tight hip muscles can cause a range of problems. Let’s talk this week about the piriformis stretch and the benefits.
WHAT does it do? The piriformis is one of the deep muscles in the hip that helps to rotate the thigh away from the body and helps stabilize the hip. The piriformis attaches to the outside of hip and to the sacrum.
WHY should I stretch it? A tight piriformis can cause the feet to turn outward which can alter walking and running movements. It can also cause the hips to feel tight. The sciatic nerve also runs just under the piriformis. If the piriformis becomes too tight it can compress the sciatic nerve causing one version of sciatica (called piriformis syndrome). The muscle can become too tight due to repetitive exercises like running, prolonged sitting, or due to weakness in the gluteus musculature causing it to become overly stressed. If too tight, it can put more stress and strain on the low back and hips. This injury is often fairly preventable as it most often occurs from repetitive motions that cause increased tightness over time. What can you do about it?
Taking breaks every 45 minutes from seated desk work can help the muscle from getting too tight.
Cooling down from exercise and stretching also relieves tension in the region.
Strengthening the hip area can also bring more stability to the area and not stress the muscles as much.
Piriformis: HOW do I stretch it?
This stretch can be done sitting or lying down. I prefer sitting down since it is more practical to get done during the workday. Here is how I teach this stretch from a seated position:
Cross ankle onto knee, keep low back straight, and lean forward until a comfortable pain free stretch occurs.
Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat 3 times per side.
If one leg does not go as far, stretch that side more often until balance is created between the two sides.
If the stretch causes any pain, tingling, or numbness into the lower leg decrease stretching tension until it is only a pull. If pain persists, stop the stretch.
You can also foam roll or use a ball in the area the as well. If you get any numbness or tingling into the leg, stop as you are compressing a nerve. Roll back and forth slowly 3-5 times or more until you feel some relief of tension.
ENJOY and don’t forget to smile! 😃