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Piriformis/ Hip Stretch

The Piriformis muscle is an external rotator of the hip and can often be the cause of lower back, buttock and/or leg pain. The piriformis muscle when tight, inflamed, injured or swollen, can cause low back pain, buttock pain, and radiating pain or tingling into the leg via the sciatic nerve. We have discussed this muscle and piriformis syndrome in depth previously here.

Here we provide you a simple stretch for the piriformis that can either be done lying flat on your back or sitting in a chair.

  1. To perform this stretch lying on your back, have both knees flexed to around 90 degrees
  2. To stretch the right leg (As pictured), lift the leg and place the ankle over the other knee as pictured below in figure 1.
  3. You may already begin to feel a stretch here, and as everyone has different muscle tone/length this is fine.
  4. If you do not feel a stretch yet progress to figure 2, and lift the lower leg toward your chest, you will begin to feel the tension increase in the leg which is crossed over.
  5. Hold this for around 20-30 seconds at a tension which you can feel a good stretch occurring, deep and centrally in the buttock and even out to the side at the hip.

Piriformis Stretch diagramTo perform this stretch sitting, it is a very similar method;

  1. Sitting in an upright position, cross the right leg (as pictured) which you wish to stretch over your other leg so the ankle is just past the knee
  2. Ensuring you keep an upright posture apply some downward pressure to the knee which is crossed over.
  3. Hold this for 20-30 seconds at a tension which you can feel a good stretch occurring, in the same location as above.

If you feel any pain during this stretch discontinue immediately.


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