A lot of the time, muscle pain seems to magically appear just as magically goes away. Instead of figuring out how to cure the muscle pain, we play the waiting game for it to leave then hope it doesn’t come back too soon. Sciatic pain is different—a couple of stretches can make this pain vanish forever.
Location, Location, Location
This pain is usually located on one side of the body anywhere from the lower back to the lower leg and occasionally leading down to the feet or toes. The pain is oftentimes caused by an overactive piriformis muscle, which is located deep in the hip and buttocks area next to the sciatic nerve. The pain may radiate down the leg but it’s not in the leg; sciatic pain is the result of the piriformis muscle becoming tight or spasming which irritates the sciatic nerve. Sounds fun, right?
You can fix that pain once and for all with a simple piriformis stretch. But first, what might be causing piriformis muscle pain?
Causes of Sciatic Pain/ Piriformis Syndrome
The two main causes are:
- Overload (aka overtraining)
- Biomechanical inefficiencies.
Overload is associated with overtraining your body in sports that require an abundance of running, changing directions or weight bearing activities. Not an extreme athlete but still feeling this pain? Other causes include:
- Exercising on hard surfaces or uneven ground
- Starting an exercise program after a long time off
- Doing too much, too fast
- Working out in poorly fitting shoes
- Sitting for long periods of time — you can blame your boss for this one!
The second cause could be that biomechanical inefficiencies cause piriformis muscle pains from faulty foot and body mechanics, gait disturbances and poor posture. Additional causes include:
- Poor running or walking postures
- Tight, stiff muscles in the lower back, hips and buttocks
What Are the Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome?
The most common symptom of piriformis syndrome is pain, or a dull ache deep in the hip and buttocks region; that pain could also be located in lower back to lower leg. The area could also feel weak, stiff and restricted in movement. If all this sounds familiar, don’t worry, one stretch can help ease the pain and prevent it in the future!
Let’s ease your pain with these two variations of the piriformis muscle stretch:
1. Sit on the floor with one leg straight out in front of your body and pull your ankle of your other leg directly towards your chest.
2. Lying face down, bend one leg under your stomach and lean towards the ground.
Here are some tips to prevent sciatic pain:
- Warm up correctly and thoroughly. Without a proper warm up your muscles will be stiff and tight making them prone to injury.
- Don’t be a hero. If you’re hurting or sore, there’s no shame in resting and recovering. It will help your body heal and get back in the game quicker.
- Strength train. Building the muscle in your hips, buttocks and lower back will lessen the chance you injure the area.
- Stretch, stretch & stretch some more! Prevent or combat an overly-tightened piriformis by performing stretches that are specific to that region of the body. (Both of the stretches above are perfect for this!)