Piriformis Syndrome: a pain in the butt

This article will provide a clearer picture on Piriformis Syndrome and how to use Yoga to manage and ease the associated pain.Piriformis syndrome is a description for a set of symptoms that you feel in your butt area – specifically:

  • A dull ache in the mid-butt area
  • Pain that travels or radiates down the back of the legs (aka sciatica)
  • Pain when walking up stairs or an incline
  • Increased pain after prolonged sitting, walking or running
  • Weakened abduction of the flexed thigh, and iliotibial band syndrome
  • Functionally, it is believed to be caused by an excessively tight piriformis muscle. The theory is that when the muscle is really tight, or in spasm, it places pressure on the sciatic nerve, which is located just under the piriformis (and for some people, right through the piriformis). When pressure is placed on the nerve, the “nerve symptoms” like dull aches, radiating sciatic-type pain occur.

    Note, that this is just a theory and that other things may be happening to cause this type of pain to occur – things like bulging or herniated discs, and other spinal problems. Be sure to get these checked out by a physiotherapist specializing in manual therapy, a chiropractor or a sports med doctor.If your spinal column is not the cause and pain continues, a key question to ask is why is the piriformis really tight? A muscle doesn’t just get tight on its own. There are always collaborators!

    The piriformis muscle connects the pelvis to the leg. Therefore, if there is any tightness, imbalance, or dysfunction of the legs or of the pelvis, the piriformis may get really tight and piriformis syndrome may occur.

    The following are some of the collaborators:

  • Hamstrings that are tight and Quadriceps that are weak causing imbalance in the legs.
  • A weak Gluteus Medius causing imbalance in the pelvis.
  • A weak and tight TFL and a tight Iliotibial band causing imbalance in the pelvis.
  • Tight Psoas and Iliacus muscles causing imbalance through the spinal column, pelvis and legs.
  • Feet that are pronated which can cause imbalance in the pelvis.
  • What can we do in Yoga?

    If someone is experiencing the pain and symptoms associated with piriformis syndrome, they need to ease out of their Yoga practice. Trying to stretch through the pain will not improve the functioning.