Origin: Inside the pelvis from the sacrum.
Insertion: Tip of the greater trochanter on the proximal femur.
Action: Externally rotates and abducts the hip. Contraction of the piriformis tilts the pelvis backward.
The piriformis regulates joint movement and lends stability to the sacrum, which is necessary when we walk or run. However, when the piriformis is too tight, it can cause pain as it pinches on the sciatic nerve. Tightness in the piriformis will limit the internal rotation of the thigh in seated twist postures like marichyasana C. Tightness in the piriformis also limits the depth of forward bends like paschimottanasana and uttanasana.
Practicing asanas that stretch the piriformis can help relieve tightness. However, over stretching the piriformis can lead to its laxity, which will destabilize the body. Hence we would need to find a middle ground of strength and laxity with the pirifiormis, by incorporating asanas that stretch & strengthen it into our daily practice.
Stretching the Piriformis muscle
- Ardha Matsyendrasana
- Pigeon pose
- Supine twist
Strengthening the Piriformis muscle
- Setu Bandhasana