Posted by: ensomabodyworks | June 23, 2011

The Pesty Piroformis muscle: AKA The Pain in my Butt Muscle!

From Runners to yogis to soccer Moms, many know the obnoxious and chronic tightness, tenderness or even  debilitating pain due to the “piriformis” muscle.   A pernicious piriformis has a litany of symptoms when tight and dysfunctional due to trigger points (noxious knots in the muscle belly).

Symptoms include:

  • Piriformis Trigger points (TP’s) keep the muscle rock hard.
  • A trigger pint laden piriformis can press on the sciatic nerve and be misdiagnosed as sciatica due to low back problems.
  •  Piriformis pain on the outer hip and butt is sharp, almost electric, and can even be felt in the low back and the hamstring area.
  • A Piriformis muscle that is shortened and swollen by trigger points can  compress numerous other nerves and blood vessels coming out of the pelvis, resulting in a sense of swelling in the buttocks, leg, calf, and foot.
  • A tight piriformis muscle can impinge upon the pudendal nerve, causing impotence in males and pain in the groin, genitals, or rectal area of either gender.

    Holy cow!  That’s a lot of weirdness and pain due to one muscle!  I wonder how many people get misdiagnosed with other conditions and improper treatment? A tight piriformis will compress the sciatic neve in the hip and  is often mistaken for sciatica in the back.

What causes the piriformis to misbehave?

Two Things:

  • Lack of hip flexion due to modern living:  When we sit all day at work then ask our hip flexors to fire and raise the knee when walking (or running) the foot and toes do not have enough clearance to pull through without scraping the ground. The body is pretty smart and adjusts by laterally rotating the leg allowing the foot to pass the ground at a higher and slightly sideways angle.  (Just watch people walk or run-many will have one foot that flops out sideways-just do nor stare!My last date accused me of ogling a pair of legs but confessed I was looking at “the biomechanical imbalance of…….” She did not by it…..   So if you are an expert or laymen do not use my excuse…it does not work.
  • The piriformis / psoas balance: The balance of these two pair of muscles determines optimum posture and alignment. (To be covered next time).

How to Fix? 

  1. First release the trigger points and tight muscle tissue with massage or self – massage with a tennis ball followed by a good stretch.
  2.  Second: reboot hip flexion.
  3. Balance the piriformis/psoas relationship

Tune in to the next blog. Just days away……….to explore this protocol together.


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