Top Low Back Stretches: Piriformis Stretch

John Naumann Uncategorized Leave a comment  

Top Low Back Stretches: Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis stretch is one of the best stretches you can do to protect yourself from a low back injury and to help relieve pain during the rehabilitation from a low back injury.  When people injure their low back, the muscles surrounding the area of the injury will tighten to guard the area from further injury.  The problem is that this constant tension in these muscle groups, can increase pain when a nerve is involved and decreases blood flow to this area.  Decreased blood flow increases the time for healing.  So stretching the muscles in this area help break this cycle and allow for the body to heal.  The piriformis muscle is one of the muscles that commonly tightens to guard the affected area.

There are many ways to perform the piriformis stretch, so the best thing to do is to find the most reasonable and comfortable way you can perform the stretch. When performing this stretch you should feel the stretch across the back of the leg being stretched.   You may feel increased tension in the buttocks or back of the knee area.  It is important that when performing stretches that the individual does not have pain or numbness, but a mild stretching sensation in the muscles of the targeted area.  Please consult with a doctor if you have any questions about this exercise.  Below are 2 examples of how you can perform this stretch.

Less Aggressive Piriformis Stretch

Perform this stretch when in significant low back pain and you cannot perform the more Aggressive Piriformis Stretch

piriformis stretch pain-First lie on your back and bend both knees keeping feet flat on floor

-Take one leg and lift it so the ankle is crossing the other leg at the knee (refer to picture)

-Gently apply pressure on the “crossed” leg’s knee, pushing away from the body (refer to picture)

-Hold stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times, then switch legs and repeat.

-Perform stretch 2-3 times daily as needed.

 

More Aggressive Piriformis Stretch

Perform this stretch when low back pain is less or back is healthy.  This more aggressive version of the stretch will allow you to get a deeper stretch for the piriformis muscle.

Active piriformis stretch-First lie on your back and bend both knees keeping feet flat on floor

-Take one leg and lift it so the ankle is crossing the other leg at the knee (refer to picture)

-Reach behind leg that is supporting the crossed leg and gently pull towards chest (refer to picture)

-Hold stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times, then switch legs and repeat.

-Perform stretch 2-3 times daily as needed.

FAQ
When should I perform the Piriformis Stretch?

The Piriformis Stretch can be performed prior to or after any workout program, especially with back loading is involved.  This will help prevent injury.  Performing this stretch after injury will help expedite the healing process.

When should I avoid performing the Piriformis Stretch?

The piriformis stretch needs to be approached with caution if you are dealing with back pain.  If you feel an increase in pain or numbness, stop and contact your doctor.

 

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