Ever felt pain in your lower back when you stood up after sitting for awhile? How about pain in just one of your hips? Or the not-funny-at-all pain in your actual butt, making it hurt to walk? It might be caused by constriction of the piriformis muscle.

I can hear you thinking, “A pair-of-whatsis?” Okay, school’s in: The piriformis is a small, flat muscle underneath the gluteus maximus, connecting the bottom of your spine to the top of your femur. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down into the legs. Your piriformis lays on top of the sciatic nerve, and is perfectly located to quite literally get on your (sciatic) nerve.

Sciatica: it ain’t just for your granny. It’s for gym buffs and fitness class junkies, too.

I used to think sciatica was a specific malady, but recently learned that it’s a broad term for any condition in which the sciatic nerve is pinched in some way. While herniated discs are known to often cause sciatica, piriformis syndrome is less well-known.

Piriformis Syndrome

Numbness, tingling, and/or severe pain can occur if the piriformis puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. This can manifest itself as a dull ache or as shooting pains in the back, hip, buttocks, and legs.


If the piriformis muscle tightens, gets pulled, becomes inflamed, or spasms, you will know because it will hurt to stand up after prolonged sitting.

The location of the piriformis makes it a difficult muscle to target, though target it we must, if we want relief. Effective piriformis stretches can help restore muscle function and relieve that persistent, annoying, and sometimes debilitating pain in the butt.

Use the following chart to guide you through the top 5 piriformis stretches.

More advanced stretches, and more details about piriformis syndrome are on this web page, complete with video how-to’s. This yoga site and this chiropractic site have in-depth analysis and self-diagnosing tips.

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