What Is The Piriformis?
- A Little Muscle Deep In The Butt
The piriformis is a little muscle that, if it is tight, is responsable for piriformis syndrome. It is located on the side of the butt, deep inside. I find it’s pretty hard to locate actually. But luckily you don’t need to locate it yourself; the stretch itself will do it for you.
So don’t worry, I’m not interested in giving complex explanations and sound super smart–I’m not. I don’t want to copy something on the internet either. There are enough definitions out there; you can look it up easy, just google it…takes 5 seconds.
What is important to know, as I’ve briefly mentioned, is that the piriformis is a…muscle, and can cause piriformis syndrome, if super tight. It’s as painful as it sounds, yes, not to be taken lightly.
Why You Should Care?
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Athletic Performance
You should care about piriformis syndrome, because it can ruin your life. It is a rare neuromuscular syndrome (you might not have it; but you still could have a tight piriformis)
It’s a condition which occurs when the sciatic-nerve gets compressed by the piriformis muscle. Decreased blood-supply (because of sitting too much), minor or major injury, pinched nerve: are all causes of this disorder.
The main functions are:
- Assist movement of lower body.
- Stabilize Pelvis and Hip-joint.
- Assist while lower leg is lifted from the ground
- Assist during rotation of lower leg
Here is what this condition can do to you: pain in back of thigh, calf, and foot; and tingling, numbness in the buttocks while seated.
If you want to be truly flexible, you cannot avoid this muscle. It’s not particularly my favorite; but I recognise it’s importance. Like everything in the body, it is linked to other muscles–for example, to master the adductor stretch you need to have a healthy piriformis. A tight piriformis leads to tight adductors. And tight adductors lead to a tight piriformis. There’s no escaping it.
If you are involved in splits, side-splits–you’re involved in piriformis stretching…whether you acknowledge it or not.
I remember, at the beginning, I couldn’t even sit on the floor. I would fall off. My back was arched. My pelvis was turned in the wrong direction. I felt really stupid. Most people can do it. “Why can’t I?” I thought. My lack of flexibility was shocking to me. Most people’s isn’t great, but mine…was so, so so bad! It was ridiculous.
There are worse things in life. I’m not complaining but, if you think about it…it’s really the small things in life that make a difference. Not being able to sit on the floor without falling might be a trivial concern for most.
But imagine having that problem everyday. Any problem can be made big if you allow it to permeate your whole life. And unfortunately, sitting is pretty essential. “That’s why we have chairs, idiot”. If you can’t sit properly on the floor, forget about sitting properly in a chair.
This is a tool that is supposed to assist your posture, not make you its slave. A well-seated slave perhaps, but a slave nonetheless. Reclaim your freedom!
What To Do About It?
- Massage With A Baseball
- And Repeat
The strategy to employ….is simple and effective, as always. I’m not going to instruct you to do a thousand things anyway.
First step, is to massage the muscle with a baseball. To do that–sit down on the floor, with your feet flat on the ground; place the lower part of your right leg on top of your left knee, perpendicular, like a cross; now, in this position, lift your butt and drop the right buttocks on top of the baseball which you remembered to put on the floor, beside you–and just start massaging.
Two minutes is the minimum therapeutic dose! The muscle needs time to relax. Less than that and it won’t be as effective, slower results…much slower.
What is left to do is stretch. I will give you 3 stretches. There are different levels to this, different levels of intensity. I don’t need to tell you that it’s better to start with the easier exercise and when you’re ready try the harder ones, from easy to hard, just like it should be.
Floor piriformis stretch