Have you ever felt pain or tightness in your glute region? The problem may be an issue with your piriformis muscle.
The piriformis is a muscle located within the hip complex originated on the anterior surface of the sacrum and inserted on the greater trochanter of the femur (see Figure 1). The concentric action of piriformis involves the acceleration of hip external rotation, abduction and extension (Clark & Lucett, 2011). Whereas, the eccentric action of the piriformis involves the deceleration of the hip internal rotators, adduction, and flexion. Additionally, the isometric action of the piriformis includes the stabilization of the hip and sacroiliac joints. Problems in this area may arise if the piriformis muscle is too short and overactive. In other words, a muscular imbalance may be present. The piriformis muscle has been labeled as a “typical shortened and overactive muscle” (Janda, 1987).
To determine if your piriformis muscle is too short or overactive, you can perform the overhead squat and assess the knee while performing the movement (see Figure 2). If the knees move outward (i.e. knee vargus), it is likely that the piriformis is probably overactive and shortened. Personally, I had suffered from the shortening of the piriformis muscle. I had discovered that the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s (NASM) series of corrective exercises or series of movements to correct a dysfunction to be extremely effective in reducing the severity of pain within the piriformis region.
The format of corrective exercises to reduce the severity of piriformis pain or tightness consists of self-myofascial release (SMR), static stretching, positional isometrics or isolated strengthening, and integrated dynamic movement. The series of movements are show in the link below:
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Clark, M. A., & Lucett, S. A. (2011). NASM’s essentials of corrective exercise training. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.
Janda, V (1987). Muscles and motor control in low back pain: Assessment and management. In: Twomey LT (Ed.). Physical Therapy of the Low Back. Churchill Livingstone: New York, 253–78.