Have you ever experienced numbness, pain, or tingling down one leg? Your piriformis could be to blame!
Your piriformis is a deep rotator muscle in your hip, and is a common source of tension – especially with a lot of sitting or sitting cross-legged. The reason this little muscle is a real pain is because of its proximity to your sciatic nerve; so, when it gets too tight, it can impinge on the nerve and reproduce pain/numbness similar to sciatica.
What can you do to alleviate your discomfort?
90/90 Hip Rotations
Start seated, with your heels planted about shoulder width apart and knees bent to approximately 90 degrees. Slowly rotate your knees as far to one side as possible, keeping heels planted throughout, then rotate all the way to the other side. Continue alternating sides for about 8-10 reps.
Lacrosse Ball Release – Gluteus Medius and Piriformis
Place the ball where the top of your jeans pocket would be (it won’t feel as if you are fully sitting on it). Use leverage from your legs to roll the ball side to side. After about 30 seconds, move to the figure 4 position by crossing the same side leg over the opposite knee. This will expose the piriformis muscle, and you can again roll side to side for 30 seconds before switching sides.
Start on hands and knees, pulling one knee forward to rest between your hands. Slowly slide your other leg backwards, straight behind you. You can bring the front ankle further forward to deepen the stretch, or lean your torso towards the floor. Hold 20-30 seconds before switching sides.
½ Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Stretching the hip flexors, which also get quite tight with long periods of sitting, can help to relieve some pressure from the piriformis – especially if it’s compensating for tension and torsion elsewhere in the pelvis.
Place one knee on the ground, the other leg forward at 90 degrees. Keeping the torso upright, shift your weight slightly towards the front foot, squeezing glutes on the back leg to help increase the stretch in the hip flexor. Hold 20 – 30 seconds before switching sides.
Break up your day
If you spend your days sitting at a desk, take a break once every hour just to stand up and move around a bit; if you stand all day, take a break to sit down!
If pain persists – always, always go to get checked out by a physiotherapist and do not self-diagnose! While these movements may help to ease your tension or pain, it’s important that any underlying causes can be found and fixed, to prevent those symptoms from returning again next week.