While desperately increasing mileage to hit my week 8 training programme schedule for a half marathon I was introduced to my piriformis muscle, quite literally a pain in the butt. What I didn’t know then was that by combining a well balanced yoga practice with my tarmac pounding we need never have become acquainted.
The piriformis muscle is a pyramid shaped muscle that originates from the inside the pelvis at the sacrum and inserts on the tip of the greater trochanter on the proximal femur.
What it does:
External rotates the femur (thigh)
Abducts femur when hip is flexed Vrkshasana – tree pose.
Stabilises the sacroiliac joint
When this small muscle becomes inflamed as well as affecting perfomance and limiting mobility, it causes a lot of pain. This is because it runs very close to the sciatic nerve, hence the characteristic pain shooting down the leg and lower back.
To help the piriformis do its job well it’s important to have good pelvis alignment, one way to achieve this is to utilise its close friend the gluteals, so they can help support. Practicing positions like Uttanasana or Vrkshasanahelps helps to use the glutes rather than over relying on the piriformis.
To stretch the an over tight piriformis, these yoga poses should be practiced.
Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Gomukhasana (Cow face Pose)
Raja Kapotasana (King Pigeon Pose) – this is particularly beneficial as it creates a feeling of openness and you need to activate the supporting muscles to stabilise before bending forward. Preventing the piriformis becoming over stretched.
Kathryn, 200hryogattc March 2016