The pain in your buttocks may not be just from your taxes…

By Erin Rothenburger, RMT

The piriformis muscle is located deep in the buttocks region functioning primarily to external (outwardly) rotate the hip and leg.  Pain syndromes can occur as a result of overuse in activities such as running or skating, with prolonged sitting, muscle strain from sudden movement, direct trauma, or even from habitually sitting on a wallet.

Often associated with piriformis problems can be pelvic imbalances, sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction, overpronation while walking and running, tight hip flexors (front of the hip), weak hip abductors (soft side of the hip), as well as sciatic nerve symptoms.

The sciatic nerve is relatively large and runs underneath the piriformis muscle.  In 15-17% of people the nerve runs through or partially through the muscle. Tightness and spasm of the piriformis can lead to a nerve entrapment syndrome causing pain, tingling and numbness into the leg.

Massage therapy can provide relief and assist with recovery from pain and dysfunction by manually releasing the muscle, mobilizing the SI joint, addressing pelvic imbalances and overpronation issues, as well as improving circulation, tone and tissue health in the areas involved.

Stretching of the piriformis muscle should be applied carefully and in a gradual progression.  Symptoms may be reproduced during the stretch.  Simply lessen the time in the static position and lessen the intensity, but continue.

(Click here to learn more about the stretch from Kathleen Simpson, our Pilates Instructor)

Consult your health care professional to determine if the source of the pain is indeed the piriformis muscle and not a spinal problem, nerve root or disc problem, or bursitis.