Protect Your Piriformis!
It’s time for us to talk about your piriformis.
I can hear you now: “Uh, whuh?”
Your piriformis (peer-ih-FORM-us) is located deep within your buttocks. (Fun fact: There are six muscles deeper than your gluteus maximus that make your hips do the things they do.) Piriformis is a small but mighty muscle and is the one most responsible for making your hips turn outward – for making your feet the opposite of pigeon-toed. Let’s call it “duck-toed.” It’s a lot easier for most people to turn their feet in this direction, and that’s because the piriformis muscle is well-developed and a hard worker.
However (there’s always a however, isn’t there?), in some instances, piriformis muscles in – see what I did there – to take up the territory of the sciatic nerve. You’ve probably heard of the sciatic nerve. It runs from your lumbar (low back) vertebrae all the way down the back side of your legs, dividing at the knee to form the tibial and peroneal nerves that then run down to your feet. It’s the longest nerve in the body. When it’s compressed by bone or muscle at any point, this can manifest in terrible pain that we know as sciatica. This pain can be debilitating.
It can be hard to identify the cause of sciatic pain, simply because this nerve is so long. There are so many points at which it can be compressed, and so many ways this can happen. If you come to me with sciatic pain, my first question will be, “Have you seen a doctor or chiropractor?” See these professionals if you’re dealing with extreme pain.
If you’re still suffering from pain, however, after seeing these professionals, consider massage. I have some great tricks for releasing the piriformis that could help ease the compression and give you some relief.