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Piriformis Stretches

Piriformis stretches are helpful to relieve the pain along the sciatic nerve.

Relevant anatomy

Piriformis is derived from the Latin words pirum and forma to mean pear shaped.

This muscle arises along the front surface of the sacrum in three projections that surround the middle two foramina. It passes obliquely out of the pelvic girdle and through the greater sciatic foramen to insert as a rounded tendon on the

crest of the greater trochanter.


Action: Piriformis rotates the extended thigh laterally, but abducts the flexed thigh.


The sciatic nerve exits the pelvis through the greater sciatic foramen and typically courses below, although sometimes through, the piriformis muscle. Piriformis syndrome may occur from a shortened muscle, causing compression and irritation of the nerve at this site. Symptoms associated with piriformis syndrome typically consist of buttock pain that radiates into the hip, posterior aspect of the thigh, and the proximal portion of the lower leg.


There are many ways of stretching the piriformis muscle. These are some of the easier exercises for stretching it:

 
Four point kneel
Piriformis Stretch
 

Four Point Piriformis Stretch

  • Position on all fours.
  • Place one leg under the other as shown.
  • Rock backward until a stretch is felt in the buttocks.
  • Hold stretch, relax and repeat.
  • Repeat stretch with other leg.
  • Hold end position for 10 -15 seconds
  • Repeat for 5-6 times

 
Long Sitting Piriformis Stretch
Piriformis Stretch Long Sitting
 

Piriformis Stretch - Long Sitting

  • Sit with one knee bent, ankle to inside of extended leg, as shown.
  • Grasp knee and pull thigh across toward opposite shoulder.
  • Relax and repeat with other leg.
  • Hold 5-10 sec; repeat 5-8 times;
  • Perform at least once per day.

 
Piriformis Stretch Knee to Chest
Knee to Chest Piriformis Stretch
 

Knee to Chest Piriformis Stretch

  • Lie on back.
  • Lift involved leg to chest and grasp knee with opposite hand.
  • Gently pull your leg across chest to opposite shoulder while rotating leg inward until a stretch is felt deep in the buttocks.
  • Hold 5-10 sec; repeat 5-8 times;
  • Perform at least once per day.

 
Pigeon Stretch for Piriformis
Pigeon Stretch
 

Pigeon Stretch for Piriformis

  • Begin in four point kneeling.
  • Slide one leg backward and extend knee.
  • Rotate other knee outward and place lower leg on floor near hips.
  • Exhale and let hips sink down toward floor while pushing chest forward.
  • Hold and repeat with other side.