Hip and lower back pain can sometimes be a result of an irritation of the sciatic nerve. Many people suffer from lower back pain that spreads downward to the limbs and feet, but this pain is regularly alleviated by practicing a deep piriformis stretch – a stretch that releases tight piriformis muscles, and relaxes the sciatic nerve.
When tense, the piriformis muscle can irritate the sciatic nerve as they are in close proximity to each other. By irritating the sciatic nerve, the result is pain either in the lower back or thigh, and numbness and tingling can also occur along the back of the leg down to the foot.
What Is The Piriformis muscle?
The piriformis muscle connects the spine to the top of the femur, and is one of the main muscles involved in outward movements of the hip, upper leg and foot from the body. The sciatic nerve usually passes beneath the piriformis muscle, which is located behind the gluteus maximus. However for some individuals the sciatic nerve passes through the muscle, which can lead to sciatica symptoms caused by a condition known as piriformis syndrome.
The foremost cause of sciatica is constriction, swelling and tension in the piriformis muscle which can be a result of injury, spasm or inactivity.
Lower back pain caused by an impinged piriformis muscle accounts for 6-8% of those experiencing back pain.
For serious cases of lower back pain, it’s always recommended to consult your doctor and seek their advice.
It is estimated that 40% of people will likely experience sciatica or an irritation of the sciatic nerve at some point in their lives. All the more reason to learn some useful and natural stretches to help the body feel good and alleviate any discomfort!
10 Wonderful Piriformis Stretches: First Warm Up Your Muscles
Before stretching, always make sure to do an adequate warm up. Take a short walk, march in place, slowly climb up and down some stairs; any gentle exercise that you know is safe and will get your legs moving can serve as a pleasant warmup.
It’s also important to remember that these stretches should only be completed within the comfort limits of your body. Do not push too hard when experiencing pain, especially sharp pain. The stretches should feel good, be gentle and allow the muscles in your body to relax with minimal discomfort.
Here Are 10 Wonderful Piriformis Stretches To Help You Get Rid of Sciatica, Hip & Lower Back Pain
1. Supine Piriformis Stretch
1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent upwards.
2. Pull one leg towards the chest, and gently cross it over the other leg
3. Grab your knee with one hand and your ankle with the other hand and slowly pull toward the shoulder that is in line with your ankle, feeling an enjoyable stretch in the glutes in the buttock.
4. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then slowly release.
Here is a video to show one variation of this stretch:
2. Standing Piriformis Stretch
1. While standing, place one leg over the other leg’s knee, making a shape similar to the number 4.
2. Slowly lower the hips towards the ground at a 45 degree angle by gently bending the support leg.
3. Lean forward and lower your chest toward your knees while keeping your back straight.
4. Hold for 30-60 seconds, then slowly return to a normal standing position and switch legs and repeat.
If you have trouble balancing, stand with your back against a wall, and walk your feet forward 24 inches.
3. Outer Hip Piriformis Stretch
1. Lie on your back and bend the right knee upwards.
2. Use the left hand to pull the knee over to the left side. Keep your back on the ground, and feel the enjoyable stretch in the hip and buttocks.
3. Gently hold for 20-30 seconds, and then return to your original position, and repeat with the other leg.
4. Long Adductor (Groin) Stretch
1. Sitting on the floor, stretch your legs straight out, as far apart as comfortable.
2. Slowly tilt your torso forward at the hips and place your hands next to each other on the floor.
3. Gently and slowly lean forward, bringing your elbows to the floor if possible. You should feel a good pelvic stretch, but stop if you feel any pain.
4. Hold for 10-20 seconds, and then release.
5. Short Adductor (Inner Thigh) Stretch
1. While sitting on the floor, put the soles of your feet together in front of your pelvis.
2. Hold your ankles with the opposite hands (right hand to left ankle and vice versa)
3. Gently use your elbows to apply downward pressure on your knees to increase the stretch.
4. Hold for 30 seconds, release, and flutter your legs slowly (like a butterfly) for 30 seconds to release any tension in the muscles.
6. Side Lying Clam Exercise
1. Lay on your side with the hip that needs help on top.
2. Bend your knees creating an ‘L’ shape, while keeping one foot over the other and keeping the legs parallel to each other.
3. Make sure your spine is straight and that the top part of your hip is vertically aligned with the bottom.
4. Keeping your feet together, raise the top knee.
5. Slowly return the knee to the starting position. Repeat 15 times.
7. Hip Extension Exercise
1. Place your hands and knees on the ground with your shoulders directly over your hands. Shift your weight a little off of the leg you’re about to wonderfully stretch.
2. Keeping the knee bent, raise your leg off the floor so that the sole of the foot moves towards the ceiling.
3. Slowly lower the leg close to the starting position, but not all the way to the floor, then repeat 15 times.
8. Supine Piriformis Side Stretch
1. Lie on the floor with the legs flat and back straight
2. Raise the affected leg by placing the foot on the floor outside the opposite knee.
3. Pull the knee of the bent leg directly across the midline of the body using the opposite hand until an enjoyable stretch is felt. Don’t force anything, be gentle, and if you feel pain, loosen the stretch.
4. While keeping your shoulders and hips on the ground, hold the piriformis stretch for 30 seconds, then return to the starting position and switch legs.
4. Repeat 3 times.
9. Buttocks Stretch For The Piriformis Muscle
1. Laying with your stomach on the ground, bring the affected leg’s foot underneath the trunk of your body and gently stretch it to the other side, while pointing the knee to the shoulder.
2. Lower your head, until your forehead touches the ground, and lean your forearms on the ground for support.
3. Slowly stretch the non-affected leg out behind you, while keeping the pelvis straight.
4. Gently push your hips towards the floor during the stretch.
5. Hold for 30 seconds, and then slowly return to starting position, repeating 3 times.
10. Seated Stretch
1. In seated position, cross your right leg over your left knee.
2. Bend slightly forward, making sure to keep your back straight.
3. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, slowly release, and then repeat on the other side.
Have any of these stretches helped to alleviate your lower back pain?
Let us know in the comments.
Stay healthy and stay feeling good.
You are loved.