Are you suffering from Piriformis Syndrome?
That nagging pain in the butt could be resulting from an overworked Piriformis muscleUpdated: Jan 12, 2019 22:27 IST
Arun was very fond of buying chunky fashion accessories, particularly large wallets which he would shove into his back pocket. To celebrate his recent promotion, he went for a long inter-city drive. As he was getting out of the car, he felt a dull ache deep in his right butt. On the way back, the pain started going down his right leg. He went to see his doctor, who told him he was a suffering from what is known as the Piriformis Syndrome!
What is Piriformis Syndrome?
Piriformis is a small muscle that lies deep under the larger butt muscles. The piriformis stabilises the hip joint and rotates the thigh away from the body. The piriformis might be small muscle but plays a big role in forward movement especially while running. It can easily get overworked and go into a spasm. In some people, the longest nerve in the body, the Sciatic nerve, lies just below the piriformis. When the piriformis goes into a spasm, it can press on the Sciatic nerve, creating symptoms like pain down the leg, similar to a herniated or slipped disc in the lower back.
Piriformis can also sometimes go into a spasm if you have been sitting for a long time on a hard surface or sitting on an object which presses into the butt like a bulging wallet. If the piriformis has been in a spasm for a while, a muscle knot can form and this can be particularly troublesome and painful.
What to do about it?
•If you have a dull ache in your butt, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. They can rule out serious issues like herniated disc, nerve compression etc.
•If it is the piriformis muscle spasm, the physiotherapist would be able to provoke the pain in the clinic. Also the physiotherapist could go over past activities, which can trigger piriformis spasm/pain. These include long distance running, sitting for a long time on an uneven surface.
•The spasm or the muscle knot can be released by doing deep tissue massage.
The cure – stretch and strengthen:
•Avoid carrying bulging wallet in your back pocket. I see some people have started carrying their phones in their hip pocket.
•If you like to run for fitness or preparing for a race, then increase your mileage slowly. The usual advice is no more than 10 per cent increase in mileage every week.
•It’s a good idea to stretch the glutes/butt regularly. This can be done while at work. Sit upright in your chair, put your right ankle on your left knee and press on your right knee with your right hand while leaning slightly forward. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds. Do the stretch three to five times in a day. Repeat on the other leg.
•Do glute bridges to strengthen the glutes. Lie on your back, bend your knees, now lift your hips till hips, knees and shoulders are in a straight line. Do this 20 times for two sets.
Not all pain comes from traumatic events, sometimes it can get triggered by innocuous habits like Arun’s love for big wallets! But do not ignore it, thinking it will go away by popping pain killers. Get it checked and get better.
A strength and conditioning coach for the last 15 years, Kamal Singh, CSCS, specialises in post rehabilitation training and functional training.
This is a fortnightly column. The next column will be out on January 27 .
From HT Brunch, January 13, 2018
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First Published: Jan 12, 2019 20:07 IST