Pain in the buttocks? Is it the piriformis?
Whether you are feeling pain in the lower back and/or buttocks; sometimes feeling the pain deep inside the buttock muscles, pain that radiates down your hamstring, numbness that reminds you something is wrong, feeling that your leg does not bear all your weight on one leg, it may also be too painful to sit on the affected buttock.
Your piriformis may be affected and the pain while walking, practicing sports or in day to day activities can be very frustrating and annoying.
The piriformis muscle is a small, relatively short, and little-known muscle buried deep within the muscle tissue in your glutes, running behind the hip and attaching to the sacrum joint. It aids in external hip rotation when the hip is extended and rotates the leg inwards when the hip is flexed. It becomes very active when the foot is on the ground during gait and running, hence why sometimes if it is injured you might feel your leg cannot bear your entire wait on that leg and seems to give in.
Of course, it is essential to carry out a differential diagnosis to rule out a herniated disc. In this post we will only focus on the piriformis pain without neural or sciatica implications.
So what can you do once you get the pain?
Firstly, you should always put yourself in the hands of the most appropriate professional, in this case a physiotherapist.
He will provide you with the best and suitable treatment for this issue. Usually the rehabilitation programme will be based on; stretching, massage and deep myofascial tissue release, dry needling and hip strengthening exercises, also deep heat could be applied.
There are plenty of images on the internet showing how to stretch this muscle.
As for recommended strengthening exercises we suggest; the clamshell and glute bridge with a Theraband, side leg raise, mini-squats against resistance, sit-to-stand on both legs and on one leg and lunges. This is just a brief summary; obviously this should be addressed by a professional who can assess and guide you through out the rehab.
Another option which both your physiotherapist can use as passive treatment or yourself at home is the use of 3TOOL to carry out some exercises aimed at myofascial release and tissue massage. Zone 1 and 2 of the tool can be used as shown in the following videos by a physiotherapist:
Here with a combination of compression and stretching at the same time:
You can even use it yourself at home allowing your bodyweight to bear over the tool: