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Everything You Need to Know About Piriformis Syndrome

by Jenny Travens(more info)

listed in exercise and fitness, originally published in issue 241 - October 2017

According to National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, nearly 80% of the adult population suffers from back pain at some point or other during their life span. Irrespective of gender, it can be mild to acute, slow or sudden, leaving the patient debilitated or completely out of daily routine. There are several potential sources and causes of back pain. However, constriction of the piriformis muscle happens to be one of the primary reasons.


The piriformis is a difficult-to-reach muscle that runs from the spine to the thigh bone. This flat pyramid-shaped muscle is located deep in the buttocks near the hip joint that connects the triangular bone called sacrum to the top of the femur.

The piriformis has many important functions when it comes to balance, joint stabilization and movement of lower body. The basic role of this small muscle is to provide stability to the sacrum and help the hip joint lift, rotate and move.

In fact, it’s involved in nearly every function of the hip and facilitates walking, lifting objects and many other day-to-day activities. This muscle is positioned close enough to the sciatic nerve so much so that it puts pressure on the nerve whenever it contracts. When it begins to push against the sciatic nerve, often due to prolonged hours of sitting, it can cause shooting pain. A tight or inflamed piriformis is what is known as piriformis syndrome.



Piriformis syndrome develops when muscle spasms develop in the piriformis muscle thereby compressing the sciatic nerve. This neuromuscular disorder is characterized by pain, instability and numbness in the lower body. The location of the pain is often imprecise, but it mainly affects the back, hips, thighs, butt and legs. Typically, this results from repetitive overuse of muscles and excessive or prolonged sitting (e.g., the hips flexed while sitting at work).

In addition, weak hip abductor muscles, such as the gluteals, combined with tight adductors, increase the risk if they do not engage regularly. However, piriformis syndrome is not always caused by inactivity. It can occur after an accident or even after vigorous or forward-moving activity.

While athletic activities like walking and running are extremely beneficial towards weight loss and development of back pain but they are equally susceptible to disorders, especially if not carried out correctly. This may even cause the piriformis muscle to go bad.


Almost every treatment approach for the piriformis syndrome focuses on progressively strengthening and stretching the muscle. The stretching exercises can help strengthen the core and lower back, hips, and buttocks while also loosening up and supporting the piriformis muscle. In the long run, exercises help retaining strength to legs and spine. It results in good posture, which reduces stiffness, inflammation and pain along the sciatic nerve.

The painful symptoms along the sciatic nerve can often be alleviated by a  deep piriformis stretch  – a stretch that releases tight piriformis muscles and relaxes the sciatic nerve.

Bibliography and References

  1. NIH -
  2. Daily Health Post -
  3. Hxbenefit -
  4. Superfoodsliving -


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About Jenny Travens

Jenny Travens is a wellness coach and fitness blogger. She loves to share her knowledge about the different ways of staying fit and healthy and helps people to conquer over health related issues and maintain their fitness regime. With over 10 years of experience, Jenny is uniquely qualified, and understands each individual’s goals, and needs. She can simply provide important nutritional information or even give you a more detailed, supportive, skills-based approach to changing your diet and eating habits. Her Social Media links are:


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