Piriformis Syndrome

Are you someone who sits down for long periods at a time throughout the day? Do you ever experience hip, buttock or hamstring pain? If yes, then you may be suffering from Piriformis Syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is a disorder that occurs when your sciatic nerve is compressed and/or irritated by the piriformis muscle as it passes deeply through your buttock, resulting in pain. This condition is sometimes referred to as back pocket disease. People that keep a wallet in their back pocket and sit on it throughout the day often develop the typical symptoms of piriformis syndrome.

Pain (or a dull ache) is the most common and obvious symptom associated with piriformis syndrome. This is most often experienced deep within the hip and buttocks region, but can also be experienced anywhere from the lower back to the lower leg. Aside from pain, piriformis syndrome may also cause tingling or numbness down the back of the leg, called sciatica.

Piriformis syndrome is predominantly caused by a shortening or tightening of the piriformis muscle. The most common target population are people who are in a sedentary position for most of the day such as office workers or drivers. They have long periods at a time in a flexed hip position causing the muscle imbalance between the gluteals and hip flexors. The piriformis muscle are also aggravated by overuse. This trigger is commonly associated with sports that require a lot of running, change of direction or weight bearing activity.

Prevention is the key when it comes to piriformis syndrome. The more you can do to prevent it, the better off you’ll be. There are a number of preventative techniques that will help to prevent piriformis syndrome, including modifying equipment or sitting positions, taking extended rests and even learning new routines for repetitive activities.

Below are four preventative measures that I feel are easy to control and effective:

• A thorough and correct warm up will help to prepare the muscles and tendons for any activity to come.

• Rest and recovery are extremely important; especially for athletes or individuals whose lifestyle involves strenuous physical activity.

• Strengthening and conditioning the muscles of the hips, buttocks and lower back will also help to prevent piriformis syndrome.

• Flexible muscles and tendons are extremely important in the prevention of most strain or sprain injuries and are managed by a structured stretch routine.

If you have questions regarding stretches/exercises to help prevent Piriformis Syndrome don’t hesitate to contact one of Optimum’s Exercise Physiologists.

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