Muscle Of The Month – Piriformis

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Muscle of The Month- Piriformis

Ever had that pain in the bum? It’s probably Piriformis Syndrome. The Piriformis is a muscle that sits underneath the gluteal’s otherwise known as the buttocks. In most people the sciatic nerve travels through the muscle. So when the muscle is tight it can squeeze the nerve causing anything from a twinge to a severe pain in the bum!

Suspected causes are:- •

Muscle Spasm in the muscle or irritation of nearby structures such as the Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ) • Tightening of the muscles- due to injury or spasm • Swelling of the Piriformis- due to injury or spasm • Bleeding in the area of the Piriformis   Any one or a combination of these problems can affect the Piriformis causing buttock pain, this can then affect the adjacent sciatic nerve which will cause pain; tingling or numbness in the back of the thigh, calf and foot are very common symptoms.


Most commonly clients will describe acute tenderness in the buttock and sciatica-pain down the thigh, calf and into the foot. Pain may also be experienced when walking upstairs or inclines, increased pain during prolonged sitting and reduced range of motion of the hip joint.


A number of stretches and exercises for the Piriformis, hamstrings and hip extensors may help decrease the painful symptoms along the sciatic nerve and return the clients range of motion.  Here are a few stretches and exercises you can do to help if the Piriformis is tight and experience any signs of the symptoms.

Double Leg Back Stretch

Lie flat on your back, and bend your knees towards your chest. Hold this position and feel a gentle stretch in your back. If you get any groin pain while doing this exercise, stop and inform your therapist. Relax, and repeat as necessary.

Sciatic Nerve Stretch

Lie flat on your back, and bend your hip to 90 degrees. Straighten
your leg as far as feels comfortable. Bend your ankle backwards and feel a stretch to the
back of the leg (hamstring and calf). You can make the sciatic stretch stronger by
straightening your leg more, but only go as far as feels comfortable.

Piriformis Stretch

Adopt the four point kneeling position, and bring your knee under your body, resting against your stomach, while your leg turns inwards. Now slowly lean forwards to create a stretch in the buttock muscle. Hold this position, and when you are ready, come back to the start position. Alternate each side. This will stretch your Piriformis muscle.

Hockey ball or Fascial Release Ball (massage ball) Piriformis Massage

Sit down on the floor, and place a hockey ball or a spiky massage ball under the buttock causing pain. Straighten your right leg, while your left leg remains bent. Use your hands to support your body, and to control movement over the ball in a circular direction. You will feel the ball massaging deep into your gluteal (buttock) muscles. Do this for 30-60 seconds.

Sleeping Position Side

If you find sleeping uncomfortable, try lying on your side, and place a pillow between your knees. If you have leg pain or one-sided lower back pain, usually you will find it more comfortable to lie on the opposite side to your leg/back pain. Do not sleep on the floor

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