The piriformis is a muscle that’s not well known to many people. Usually, the first time our clients ever hear of this muscle is when it’s already started to cause them complications. In this’s blog, we’re going to talk about the piriformis muscle, what it does, and which exercises you should avoid when struggling with piriformis syndrome. 

What is the piriformis muscle? 

The piriformis muscle is a muscle in the gluteal region. Its name was decided to mark its resemblance to the shape of a pear and has Latin origins. The muscle starts at the lower spine and connects over to the head of both femurs (also known as thigh bones) Its job is to assist in rotating the hip and turning the leg and foot outward, whilst controlling the hip as you walk. The sciatic nerve often runs underneath the muscle, however in some people the nerve can run through it. 

What is Piriformis Syndrome? 

The exact causes of Piriformis syndrome are unknown; however, it often occurs when the piriformis the gluteal region spasms causing pain in the area. The muscle can also irritate the sciatic nerve, which causes pain, numbness and an unpleasant tingling sensation that runs down the leg and into the foot. This is commonly due to the compression of the sciatic nerve from the Piriformis itself, and can be caused following direct trauma, overuse in spots, and even something as simple as sitting down in the same position for long periods of time. 

How Do You Know if You Have Piriformis Syndrome? 

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive test in order to diagnose somebody with Piriformis Syndrome, hence why it’s often mistaken for other conditions such as sciatica as they cause very similar side effects. The diagnosis of Piriformis Syndrome is based upon the clients report of symptoms and other factors such as medical and injury history and factors such as medical history, work and activities etc. 
In some cases, an MRI may be required in order to determine whether something like a herniated disc is the cause of the issue. The people most at risk tend to be those that sit for extended periods of time such as office workers. 

Which Exercises Should be Avoided? 

One of the best ways to work out what should be avoided is to evaluate the cause of the syndrome. Firstly, it’s important that you temporarily cease any activities such as cycling or running if you feel they may be the cause. Squatting and leg training can also cause more pain, so it’s recommended that heavy exercise is avoided whilst you recover. 
The key things to also avoid are sitting for prolonged periods throughout the day and standing for hours at a time. It’s important that you move and stretch to avoid the muscles from spasming and trapping the sciatic nerve. 
If you’re experiencing this sort of discomfort and would like some advice, please get in touch with our expert therapists. 
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