Getting injured can really set your exercise and fitness routine back a notch! And worst of all… it can be a total pain in the butt in more ways than one. Can you guess what we mean? If you’re reading this, you may have heard of piriformis syndrome before, or perhaps your just curious – either way, we’re here to tell you what it is, what causes it, and what you can do about it. That way, you’ll know why you’re in pain and you can “butt to the chase”, so to speak! [...]
So, what is piriformis syndrome, actually? Well, it’s a condition characterized by a spasm in the piriformis muscles which are located in the buttocks. One spasm, or even a series of them, can wreak havoc in that region. Once the piriformis has contracted, it often tends to agitate and irritate the neighboring sciatic nerve, thereby placing pressure on it and thus causing an adverse react. In this case, one may experience symptoms similar to sciatica, a painful state related to the sciatic nerve in the back and legs. These symptoms include numbness, tingling, and stabbing pains extending down past the thigh bone and often to the foot.
Yikes. It doesn’t sound that pleasant, does it? The good news is, there is a way to alleviate the pain and its symptoms. But first, we need to discuss what causes piriformis syndrome in the first place.
In most cases, general muscle spasms may trigger the above reaction, in other cases, though, injuries incurred during workouts or exercise routines may be to blame. In still other situations, the piriformis may be subject to bleeding in its general area as a result of a fall or serious accident, thus triggering spasms, tightness, and swelling. In any of these situations, however, the pain can be debilitating and it should, therefore, be seen to.
How, then, can you prevent piriformis syndrome and its painful symptoms? We’re glad you asked! Take a look:
Get up From Your Desk
Sitting for periods exceeding 20 minutes at a time can increase the risk of getting piriformis syndrome. Given that the piriformis muscle is vulnerable to spasms if it isn’t used regularly, sitting at your desk for extended periods of time could be detrimental. Why not take water breaks every 20 minutes and take a stroll around the office. In addition, do some stretches at your desk and make sure that you mobilize the muscles in your buttocks during this time.
And speaking of stretches, it is absolutely vital that you dedicate a few minutes each day to stretching in general. Moving your arms, legs, and back in such a way that the muscle elongate and strengthen will go a long way to making sure you stave off piriformis syndrome. Mobility is the key to health and longevity. Why not join a local yoga class or take up Pilates? Both of these activities will help you to either mobilize stiff muscles, or to ensure that you don’t get them in the first place.
Climbing Too Many Stairs
Here’s something you may not have expected us to say: it’s alright to take the lift from time to time… in fact, skipping the lift altogether and thereby climbing too many stairs may cause your piriformis to spasm. An injury of this sort is often related to the immobility of the muscle itself, so if you can’t help but climb the stairs at work or at home, make sure to put ‘stretching’ at the top of your to-do list in the morning.
Watch that Posture!
Life can be challenging enough without us throwing obstacles in our own way. And yet, how many of us have bent down too quickly and felt a sudden jab in our backs? And how many more of us have picked up a suitcase or box only to regret it moments later? It’s times such as these that really cater for an injury to the piriformis muscle. Making sure that you bend down correctly, as well as lift weighty objects using the correct form, is key to maintaining the health of your buttocks and back! Speak to a professional to find out more about executing the correct posture.
Extended Periods of Walking or Running
Now, do not be fooled! Walking and cardiovascular activities such as running are extremely beneficial for your health. So, it is not doing them that concerns us, but rather it is the amount of time spent doing these types of exercises that might cause the trouble. Your body needs time to recover, and if you are pushing yourself too hard by increasing the distance of your walk or run too quickly, you could be in trouble. Make sure to pace yourself according to your level, and be sure to add ‘rest days’ to your weekly workout routine. Also, wear footwear that supports your gait. By all means, walk and run, just do it in such a way that supports health and doesn’t stunt it down the road.
So, there you have it: all you need to know about piriformis syndrome. If you’re currently living with pain as a result of piriformis syndrome, or are simply keen to avoid experiencing its notorious effects, the best decision you can make it to visit a qualified, hands-on physical therapist today. Not only will a physical therapist diagnose and treat the root cause of the problem, but he/she will also give you tailor-made exercises for you to do at home, thus ensuring that the pain doesn’t return. In other words, visiting a physical therapist offers you a permanent solution to your problem! If you’re still curious about how to prevent getting piriformis syndrome, and if you just want more information on executing the correct posture, what type of activities you should be doing, or which stretches would benefit you the most, we’re happy to help with that, too!
Don’t hesitate to contact us today for more information about piriformis syndrome. You do not have to the live with the pain… and you certainly don’t have to live in fear of it. We very much look forward to hearing from you. Let us help you make sure the pain butts out!
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"We help active adults and athletes get back to doing the activities they love, without relying on painkillers or injections."
Shaheen Siddiqui, PT
Specialist Physical Therapist