The piriformis is a large and powerful muscle beneath the gluteal/buttocks muscles. It runs from the bottom of the sacrum, where the base of the spine and pelvis converge to the top of the femur. This muscle plays a critical role in running motion; it helps externally rotate the hips and upper leg outward, provides hip flexibility and stability, and stabilizes the pelvis. The sciatic nerve passes next to, over, under, or through the piriformis muscle. When the piriformis contracts or spasms, it can irritate, become entangled and compress the nerve, resulting in painful symptoms. This can lead to various problems and is how piriformis syndrome occurs.
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The proper function of the piriformis muscle is essential for athletes who participate in running sports. Repetitive activities, like running, can fatigue the muscle and irritate and inflame the nerve.
Piriformis syndrome can be challenging to diagnose because it can be confused for a herniated disc, sciatica, a proximal hamstring strain/high hamstring tendinitis, or lower back problems. A few symptoms that can help determine whether the piriformis is the cause include:
Resting may not be enough to alleviate piriformis syndrome. This is especially true if the problem involves spine and pelvic misalignment. Chiropractic can provide significant relief from running piriformis syndrome. A combination of spinal, pelvic, and extremity adjustments, therapeutic massage, MET, decompression, stretches, and anti-inflammatory nutrition will take the pressure off overly tight areas, realign the body, and maintain nervous system function.
Other treatments to stop piriformis spasms.
Ahmad Siraj, Sidra, and Ragini Dadgal. “Physiotherapy for Piriformis Syndrome Using Sciatic Nerve Mobilization and Piriformis Release.” Cureus vol. 14,12 e32952. 26 Dec. 2022, doi:10.7759/cureus.32952
Chang A, Ly N, Varacallo M. Piriformis Injection. [Updated 2022 Sep 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-.
Heiderscheit, Bryan, and Shane McClinton. “Evaluation and Management of Hip and Pelvis Injuries.” Physical Medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America vol. 27,1 (2016): 1-29. doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2015.08.003
Julsrud, M E. “Piriformis syndrome.” Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association vol. 79,3 (1989): 128-31. doi:10.7547/87507315-79-3-128
Kraus, Emily, et al. “Piriformis Syndrome With Variant Sciatic Nerve Anatomy: A Case Report.” PM & R: the Journal of Injury, Function, and Rehabilitation vol. 8,2 (2016): 176-9. doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2015.09.005
Lenhart, Rachel, et al. “Hip muscle loads during running at various step rates.” The Journal of Orthopedic and sports physical therapy vol. 44,10 (2014): 766-74, A1-4. doi:10.2519/jospt.2014.5575
Sulowska-Daszyk, Iwona, and Agnieszka Skiba. “The Influence of Self-Myofascial Release on Muscle Flexibility in Long-Distance Runners.” International Journal of environmental research and public health vol. 19,1 457. Jan 1, 2022, doi:10.3390/ijerph19010457
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