If exercise has become a literal pain in the butt, you may be suffering from piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a small muscle that is located deep within the hip and buttocks region. It is responsible for lateral rotation of the hip, and is often used by athletes who participate in multidirectional sports such as tennis and football. Piriformis syndrome occurs when this muscle becomes overly tight. The syndrome may be caused by exercising on a concrete or uneven surface, wearing improper aerobic shoes or sitting for extended periods of time. Stretching exercise may alleviate the pain. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
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Seated Piriformis Stretch
You can alleviate the pain of piriformis syndrome without leaving your desk. Simply place one foot on top of the other leg, and use both hands to press down against the thigh to open the hip. You can intensify this stretch by bending at the waist and bringing your chest closer to your leg. This stretch is particularly effective for anyone who has to sit for extended period of time.
Supine Piriformis Stretch
You can stretch your piriformis by lying on your back, placing one foot on top of the other knee and drawing your legs toward your chest. You can also perform this stretch as part of a sequence, by extending your arms to the side at shoulder height and dropping your legs toward one shoulder. If your your legs drop to the left, you can use your left hand to gently ease the top leg toward the floor. The same thing applies on the right side.
Foam Roller Piriformis Stretch
Styrofoam rollers combine the benefits of flexibility exercise and massage. Let your body weight sink into the roller; until you feel a 75 percent decrease in pain. Or, you can gently roll back and forth on the roller. When you are sitting on the roller, do the seated stretch, as described above. Put your foot on the opposite knee. Intensify the stretch by shifting your weight on to the hip of the lifted knee.