Two Techniques to Lessen Sciatic Nerve Impingement by the Piriformis Muscle

Stretch and foam roll the piriformis muscle to help lessen compression of the sciatic nerve under the piriformis muscle. The powerful combination of stretching and foam rolling helps eliminate the source of Piriformis Syndrome.

Anatomy: The sciatic nerve originates in the gluteal region and travels down the leg. The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve and its branches transmit nerve communication signals throughout the leg. The piriformis muscle runs across the gluteal region and attaches to the outer hip. The powerful piriformis muscle contracts to rotate the leg outwards.

Symptoms: Symptoms of piriformis syndrome include sharp shooting shock-like pain, tingling, numbness, fatigue, weakness and burning in the leg and foot.

Stretching: Proper stretching technique is essential for maximum results. Slowly ease into the stretch and hold a mild comfortable stretch for five to one hundred and twenty seconds. If a specific stretch increases or elicits symptoms, forgo that stretch and proceed to another. Execute every stretch with each leg even if the pain exists only on one side.

Supine Bent-Knee Piriformis Stretch: Lie supine on the floor. Bend the painful leg and keep the opposite leg straight. Place the foot of the painful leg on the floor on the outside of the opposite leg. Keep the gluteal area of the straight leg on the floor. Exhale and use the hand on the side of the straight leg to pull your bent leg to the opposite side.

Knee to Opposite Shoulder Stretch: Lie supine with the painful leg bent and the opposite leg straight. Grab the back of the thigh of the bent leg with both hands. Exhale and slowly pull the knee toward your chest. When a stretch in the gluteal area begins, angle the pull toward the opposite shoulder.

Figure Four Piriformis Stretch: Lie supine with both knees bent. Bend the painful leg at the hip and place the outer aspect of the lower leg just above the opposite knee. Grab hold of the opposite leg around the lower thigh with both hands. Exhale and slowly pull the knee toward your chest.

Side Lying Piriformis Stretch: Lie on your side near the edge of a training table. Keep your bottom leg straight and bend the upper leg. Place the foot of the upper leg behind the knee of the lower leg. Exhale and slowly lower the knee of the upper leg toward the floor. Apply slight downward pressure with your hand to the outside of the upper thigh.

Seated Piriformis Stretch: Sit up straight in a sturdy chair. Cross the painful leg over the opposite lower thigh. Place the outer aspect of the ankle on the opposite lower thigh. Hinge forward at the hips. Stretch the piriformis muscle to eliminate the source and symptoms of sciatica caused by piriformis syndrome.

Utilize the foam roller as a tool to decrease muscle tension.

Contraindications of Foam Rolling: Do not use the foam roller in an area of nerve damage. Never use a foam roller on a broken bone. Avoid foam rolling directly over a bone that contains a stress fracture. Don’t use a foam roller over a spot that lacks sensation, including numbness and tingling. When a lack of sensation is present, foam roll over the source of the numbness but not over the area of numbness or tingling.

Place the foam roller on a level surface. Begin with very mild pressure. Learn the motion and get the feel of the movement before increasing pressure. Control the amount of pressure by raising or lowering your body at a variety of angles on the foam roller. The amount of body weight you use either increases or decreases the pressure you exert. If symptoms begin or increase while foam rolling either lighten the pressure, modify your body position or move to a different muscle.

Start at one end of a muscle and methodically work the entire length of that muscle. Use mild pressure. Gradually slide the muscle over the roller. When you feel a tight or tender spot hold that location for six seconds then slowly proceed to the next tender area. Carefully and slowly work the entire muscle. When completed switch to the opposite side.

Seated Piriformis Foam Rolling: To work the right piriformis muscle, sit on foam roller with right side of your buttocks resting on it. Start with the foam roller contacting just lateral to the sacrum. Flex your left hip and left knee so your left foot is contacting the floor. Flex your right hip, rotate your right hip and bend your right knee to place the outer aspect of your right ankle on the left thigh, just above your knee. Using light pressure, slowly slide over the roller. Hold a tender spot for six seconds then proceed to the next tender area. Work the entire muscle then switch to the opposite side. Perform each side two or three times.

Combine foam rolling and static stretching to increase effectiveness. Help combat sciatica from Piriformis Syndrome by foam rolling and stretching the piriformis muscle.

Disclaimer: Viewing this video does not take the place of seeing a medical professional, receiving proper training in the medical profession or working with a fitness professional. Please visit a medical professional for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Please work with a fitness professional to learn proper exercise technique and to develop a proper training program. Never perform an exercise that elicits or intensifies symptoms. If an exercise elicits or intensifies symptoms, stop immediately and use a viable substitute. Please receive proper medical training before attempting these medical procedures.

Dr Donald A Ozello DC of Championship Chiropractic in Las Vegas, NV

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