Are you suffering from sciatica? Blame the piriformis muscle

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Piriformis means “pear-shaped,” so it’s no surprise why this muscle got its name. It originates from the Anterior Sacrum and inserts on the superomedial surface of the Greater Trochanter of the Femur. Its actions are lateral rotation of the hip joint when the thigh is extended and abduction and medial rotation of the thigh when it is flexed. The Piriformis is deep to the Gluteus Maximus and is between the Gluteus Medius and the Superior Gemellus.

People who spend long hours sitting (in front of the computer or driving, for example) and like to cross their legs (resting one ankle on the opposite knee) often have very tense piriformis muscles. Former ballet dancers may also contract the piriformis muscles when they externally rotate their knees when doing basic ballet poses, such as the “plie.”

When the piriformis is tightened, some people can develop what is called sciatica, the pinching of the sciatic nerve that can cause pain down the foot. A sprained sacroiliac joint can also cause strain on the piriformis, as it is trying to protect the joint.

If you find yourself sitting for a long time or if you feel a “funny” sharp pain running down your leg, then you need to stretch your piriformis regularly. Massage can also help release tension in the muscles.

Many Chiros, Osteos and Physios suggest stretching for sciatica and lower back pain, it’s very effective! Lie on your back crossing one leg over the opposite knee and bring your knees in toward your chest, making sure to rest your head on the floor (or a pillow if there is restriction) and also pushing your tailbone toward the floor. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

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