Piriformis Stretch – To Relieve Sciatic Pain

A piriformis stretch may help to relieve the symptoms of sciatica. Sciatica is a form of neuralgia, which is felt as a sharp or dull consistent pain or tingling.  This pain is experienced along the length of the sciatic nerve, from the back of the thigh to the calf muscles.

The reason that the piriformis muscle is identified with this condition, is that it is situated close to the sciatic nerve and if the piriformis muscle is in spasm, then it can irritate this nerve causing pain or at least discomfort.

I have discovered from one of my many conversations with various health care practitioners, that if this muscle has a weakness on both sides of the body, it can indicate jaw problems, specifically the TMJ, of which massage to certain muscles in the face and around the side of the head can correct!

It is said that true prevention of disease is mineral balance.  Magnesium, collodial minerals and vitamin E are said to help and support this muscle, but please check with your GP/Kinesiologist/Osteopath before beginning any new supplementation regime.

The Pigeon Pose from yoga is very intense and helps to relieve the pain.  It is useful for keeping the piriformis flexible so that it can help to prevent further episodes of pain.  Please refer to the video above to find out how to perform this stretch.

Alternative piriformis stretch: this is great after working out, as it also stretches the glutes:

If the pain is felt in the left leg, then:

  • As you lie down, bend your right leg and bring your knee over the hip.
  • Place your left foot over your right knee.
  • Then place your left hand through the window between the thighs (threading the needle).
  • Grasp your right thigh and pull it towards your chest.
  • If you can, keep your hips on the floor to protect your lower back.
  • If keeping you shoulders on the floor is not possible, wrap a towel around the right thigh and pull the ends of it towards your chest, until you experience a stretch in your left hip.
  • This should be held for 20-30 seconds and can be repeated as often as needed to relieve the tension at the back of the hip.

A piriformis stretch is wonderful for releasing all kinds of tension in the hips and can also help prevent stiffness after exercise.

Massimo (Max) Vencato holds a doctorate (PhD) in Sports and Exercise Psychology and a Degree in Sports Sciences (first class with honours). He works today as a cardiac rehabilitation trainer, personal trainer (specialising in weight loss) and lecturer in Sports and Exercise Psychology at Brunel University London.

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