Piriformis Syndrome: What Is It And How To Prevent It?

Most of us spend the majority of our days sitting in front of a desk working on the computer for hours at a time with little to no exercise for stretching our muscles and mind. Unfortunately, in most offices, the desks are often too high or too low, the screen is not properly placed, and the chair which you spend most of your day with is not designed with ergonomics in mind.

We are talking about back pain which occurs when we spend too much time sitting down, and this article will be talking about Piriformis Syndrome in particular. You will also be given stretching exercises that will help you stretch your Piriformis muscle so that you don’t have to suffer from the painful consequences of getting the Piriformis syndrome.

Lower Back Pain Due To Piriformis Syndrome

According to research, one of the biggest reasons you may have, or currently are experiencing pain in the lower back or buttocks is due to Piriformis syndrome which occurs when the Piriformis muscle is constricted.

What Is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is a serious health problem that is caused when the sciatic nerve is compressed due to a tight Piriformis muscle. When this happens, sciatica can be experienced in the buttocks and legs. Sciatica is when you experience pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve that starts from the lower back to both legs.

Note that the pain due to sciatica may be felt in one leg or both when experiencing Piriformis syndrome.

This sciatic nerve runs from the internal pelvic cavity into the gluteal region between the superior gemelus muscles and the Piriformis muscle. About 15% of people have their sciatic nerve that passes between the gluteus medius and Piriformis muscle or right through the Piriformis muscle. What this means is that regardless of where your sciatic nerve runs through, a tighter Piriformis muscle can result in the nerve becoming compressed and causing Piriformis syndrome.

How To Know If You Have Piriformis Syndrome?

If you are experiencing any of the following problems or pains, you may have Piriformis syndrome:

  • When the pain intensifies when you run, walk or perform any activity that requires hip movements. This can be caused due to your Piriformis muscles shortening.
  • When there is a pain, tightness and ache in the buttocks (usually only one side) which generally occurs when you spend too much time sitting in one position (like in front of the computer).
  • When there is pain, weakness, tingling, numbness or tightness that starts from the lower back to one or both legs down to the hamstrings and calves.

Piriformis Syndrome

You should know that experiencing pain in the lower back or down your legs is not always linked to Piriformis syndrome. Sometimes, other problems like a herniated disc or spinal stenosis can also cause similar pains. A herniated disc can pressure the sciatic nerve and result in similar bursts of pain to Piriformis syndrome. The most effective way to know which type of problem you are facing is to get a CT scan or an MRI after consulting your doctor.

What Is The Importance Of A Healthy Piriformis Muscle?

A healthy Piriformis muscle can improve your mobility and prevent lower back pain problems like Piriformis syndrome. Without a healthy Piriformis muscle, you will find it difficult and very painful to perform even the most common of tasks, like walking or bending down to tie your shoelaces.

Problems like Piriformis syndrome are primarily caused due to our sedentary lifestyle where it’s considered acceptable to sit in one place for 9-12 hours every day with little exercise and movement.

However, if you want to avoid the pain of Piriformis syndrome or want to help strengthen your Piriformis muscle to alleviate your Piriformis syndrome, here are the top three most effective stretching exercises you can do at home or the office:

1. The Seated Piriformis Stretch

This easy stretching exercise helps stretch the muscles in your lower back and pelvis while being very effective against Piriformis syndrome as well:

  1. In the seated position, cross your left leg over the right knee
  2. Keep your back straight while bending slight forward
  3. Hold this position for about 30-60 seconds and repeat with the other side.

The Seated Piriformis Stretch

This stretch is great to do at the office while being seated in your chair.

2. The Supine Piriformis Stretch

This is considered one of the best exercises to combat Piriformis syndrome and stretch your Piriformis muscle.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, cross your right leg over the left knee.
  2. Grab your crossed leg with both hands and slowly pull towards your left shoulder.
  3. Hold this position for five seconds (increase the duration to raise intensity) and release.
  4. Repeat the same stretching exercise with the other leg.

The Supine Piriformis Stretch

This is a good exercise to do at home before or after work. But you can do this at work as well if you want.

3. The Buttock Stretch

This is an intense stretching exercise helps stretch your lower back muscles, your Glutes and your Piriformis muscle.

  1. Start with being on all fours, then move your left foot across and underneath the hips.
  2. Stretch your right leg straight back while making sure that your pelvis is as straight as possible.
  3. Move your hips back and towards the floor while leaning forward with the forearms.
  4. Hold this position for about 30 seconds and return to the original position
  5. Do the same stretching exercise for the other leg with experts recommending doing 2-3 sets of each.

The Buttock Stretch

This stretching exercise is ideally done slowly at home as it’s a difficult stretch for most people to achieve effortlessly.

Remember to start these exercises slowly and gradually increase the intensity to better stretch your muscles.

If you are amongst the ones who sit on a chair for a long time, then you should get some special cushions. These cushions help you to get a proper posture which helps in relief from all kind of pains. 

Final Word Regarding Piriformis Syndrome:

If you are someone who spends a lot of time in one position and doesn’t do the necessary exercises to stretch your back muscles, you need to know that you will eventually experience a back problem like Piriformis syndrome. So, if you haven’t experienced Piriformis syndrome yet, do the mentioned exercises and keep your back in good condition to prevent future problems.

Modified on
About Michelle 59 Articles
Michelle is the senior most expert who writes for this website. After completing her graduation and 10+ years of practice, Michelle has been involved and known for a lot of her philanthropy work. Michelle loves spending time researching and writing her papers. She occasionally writes for us and we are extremely proud to have her as one of our editors. Follow me on Linkedin