Piriformis syndrome exercises can help keep muscle spasms, strain, stiffness, and pain in the piriformis muscle at bay. Surrounding glute and hamstring muscles are also vulnerable to painful symptoms so having a solid exercise program that encompasses focus on these areas can help combat discomfort and get you on the path to recovery. Keep scrolling to find beneficial stretches and exercises for piriformis syndrome to add to your routine.
These stretches target both the piriformis muscle and surrounding lower body muscle groups to improve flexibility.
This is the most straightforward stretch that you can do to directly address the piriformis muscle. Since it’s done in a seated position, you can do it while sitting at work or even on the couch watching TV in the evenings.
This stretch is similar to the seated stretch above but allows more dynamic movement for addressing any specific sore areas within the piriformis muscle itself.
The hamstrings are often stiff and sore as piriformis syndrome progresses. This is especially true since the sciatic nerve runs in the same direction along with the hamstring muscles. Stretching this common problem area can yield some much-needed relief.
You can also try this sitting on the edge of a chair. Both positions can yield a good hamstring stretch with good form. Lying on your back to stretch tends to be less irritating to the sciatic nerve and low back at least when first getting started.
Since the piriformis connects to the low back, the lumbar spine can also feel stiff and sore. Some gentle lower back stretches can feel great as well for addressing back pain. Start slowly with this next exercise since it does require some core strength and coordination.
Once you’ve run through a few pain-relieving stretches, you can make even further progress with the use of a massage tool like a foam roller. Foam rolling is such a great option for the larger muscle groups in the legs and can promote further relaxation and healing when done consistently.
Additionally, you can roll the hamstrings and inner thigh muscles as needed too.
Weak gluteal and piriformis muscles are often sore due to overuse and can result in major imbalance of the trunk and hips when standing, walking, and running. Here are a few exercises to get the muscles back in a better state of balance.
The piriformis plays an important role in hip abduction strength. Thus, being able to comfortably abduct the hip is important for restoring function and reducing pain.
Additionally, you can also try a clamshell exercise from this position to promote more balanced glute strength. This time, both knees are bent and you lift the top knee up toward the ceiling while keeping the feet together.
This is another hip abduction strength exercise that requires a little more dynamic stability and coordination. Thus, it’s a great progression for increasing your tolerance for standing activities and beyond.
The classic bridge move helps promote adequate glute activation and strength with hip extension-based movement. This exercise will help ensure a proper balance between all of the stabilizing gluteal muscles to reduce strain on the piriformis.
Weak core muscles can leave the piriformis vulnerable to more strain than it is built to endure. Thus, regular core strengthening is always good for any type of hip pain. There are a ton of options for focusing on trunk stability and strength, here is just one of many to try that is effective since it addresses the hard-to-target lower abdominals.
There are tons of other great options for keeping the abdominals and entire trunk strong, so don’t feel like you are stuck with only one or two options. Other favorites include planks or dead bugs.
Which activities and exercises to avoid completely depends on what is causing the pain in the first place. Common culprits include:
Since many of us spend 8 or more hours sitting for work, recreation, and more- this is the most common aggravating position. While it may be impossible to totally avoid sitting, you can take frequent breaks and make sure that you are sitting in an ergonomic friendly position without leaning.
If you stand on one leg and you notice you can’t hold your hips level (known as a Trendelenburg sign), this is a clue that your glutes are weak and the culprit of your piriformis pain. Avoid standing and balance activities that are too difficult and you can’t control the level of your pelvis.
Excessive running with less than ideal mechanics can leave your piriformis feeling tight, weak, and/or painful. Review your mechanics with a movement expert like a physical therapist. They can help you assess your stride length, stride width, cadence (speed), and muscle coordination to see if anything needs to be adjusted and optimized.
There is a lot to be gained from a regular exercise program for the piriformis. Let’s review some of the top benefits of a home exercise program:
The body likes to move, which is why too much sitting is the most common culprit of piriformis pain. Thus, it should make sense that regular movement and activation of the trunk and hip muscles is beneficial for a sustainable recovery. Start with exercises that are pain-free and progress to more dynamic stretches and strength moves when possible. Most importantly, always focus on good form to restore hip and glute balance and ask for help as needed.
You should notice a gradual improvement in symptoms over time with a well-designed exercise program. If not, or if your symptoms get worse, it’s time to give your healthcare provider or physical therapist a call for further medical advice.
Resources:Products for Hip Pain
Next Pages:Piriformis Syndrome Massage
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