Here's what WebMD has to say about piriformis syndrome:
Piriformis syndrome usually starts with pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks. Pain can be severe and extend down the length of the sciatic nerve (called sciatica). The pain is due to the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve, such as while sitting on a car seat or running. Pain may also be triggered while climbing stairs, applying firm pressure directly over the piriformis muscle, or sitting for long periods of time.
From a Hanna Somatic Education point of view, piriformis syndrome is just another example of Sensory Motor Amnesia.
Piriformis syndrome is caused by habituation of the Trauma Reflex, a full-body reflex pattern that is evoked in response to an accident, injury, surgery, or one-sided repetitive movement. The muscles of the waist and trunk rotators (the obliques, lats, abdominals, iliopsoas muscle, adductors, and abductors) become chronically contracted on one side of the body, causing the pelvis to hike and/or rotate slightly. This pattern of muscular imbalance causes the piriformis muscle to involuntarily over-contract in an effort to maintain balance. Piriformis syndrome is in the same category as neck and shoulder problems, plantar fasciitis, chronic back pain, TMJ, sciatica, or joint stiffness. It's a functional muscle problem in need of a functional solution: sensory motor retraining of the brain to muscle connection in order to teach the frozen, contracted muscles involved in the pattern of piriformis syndrome to relax and release. The end result is relaxed and coordinated muscles, restored muscle function, a greater sense of body awareness, and no more pain.
Try these simple self-assessment tools to become aware of how piriformis syndrome is being created in your body:
- Stand in the mirror and take a look at yourself. Are your shoulders level?
- Close your eyes and sense the weight into each leg. Is it the same on both side?
- Put your hands at the waistline, right on the top of the pelvis. Are your hips level?
- Lay on your back and lift your legs up to 90 degrees above your hips. Look at your ankle bones. Do they meet, or is one ankle bone higher than the other?
If you notice imbalances in your posture, then you know that your movement habits are causing your pelvis to twist or tilt and your back and buttock muscles to work harder on one side than the other. Hanna Somatics can teach you to change that.
A daily routine of Hanna Somatic Exercises to prepare your body for movement is the first step to reversing the pain of piriformis syndrome.
A Somatic movement practice reinforces more optimal movement patterns. You will learn to move more efficiently when your muscles are fully under the control of your brain. There are times when it's necessary to tweak these exercises, or target the offending muscles a bit more directly.
Remember that it's never just one muscle causing the problem when you find yourself out of balance or moving inefficiently. In the video below you will engage muscles that would normally coordinate together with the piriformis. Have a look and try them out for yourself. Let me know how it goes.
Visit the Essential Somatics® store for easy-to-follow instructional DVDs. Learning the basic movements of Somatics goes a long way toward educating you and your muscles to get rid of chronic back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee, foot or joint pain - and keep yourself moving pain-free for the rest of your life.