The piriformis muscle is not something the average person knows much about, but if you suffer from lower back pain, including sciatica, there is a strong possibility that you need to! It is worth reading our post about piriformis syndrome before going further.
So, now you may suspect that you too are suffering from this painful condition. A doctor or competent physical therapist will be able to confirm your suspicions, but either way, you will definitely benefit from a regular piriformis stretch. We have personally used the stretches shown below and can attest to the effectiveness of the three different techniques shown.
Piriformis Stretch – seated
Performing the stretch while sitting is one of my favourites because you can easily do it without causing any fuss right at your desk. The key is to lean slowly forward after placing your ankle on top of the opposite knee. No lean means no stretch.
Piriformis Stretch – lying down
For some people the seated stretch doesn’t work. If your hips are not very flexible in general, you may not be able to lift your foot up on to the opposite knee. In this case, you can perform the stretch while lying down.
Piriformis Stretch – alternatives
If neither piriformis stretch above works fully for you, there are alternatives. There is a growing movement towards “dynamic” stretching and the example below shows this thinking in action. Several experts (link to a good pdf resource) believe that this is the best technique as it most fully stretches the piriformis muscle.
From personal experience, I believe you will feel a definite positive improvement if you commit to one of these stretches once or twice daily for as little as a week. The more time you spend sitting daily, the more important a programme of piriformis stretching becomes. Give them a go – you have nothing to lose!