Top 4 Piriformis Exercises

Piriformis exercises don't have to be a pain in the butt if you use Pilates exercises and movements designed to stretch and strengthen this deep muscle in the buttocks.

The piriformis muscle is a flat, band like muscle in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint.

This muscle helps to stabilize the hip joint and helps to lift and rotate or abduct the thigh away from the mid-line of the body.

It helps us to walk by shifting our weight from foot to foot, and to maintain our balance.

It can also cause sciatic pain, when it is tight and pinching the sciatic nerve.  That's why it is important to do exercise for sciatica working the piriformis muscle.

Here are my Favorite Piriformis Exercises

piriformis muscle stretch image
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Piriformis Syndrome Muscle Stretch -

This is a very effective way to stretch the piriformis muscle deep in the buttocks.  It can be done lying, in a chair or sitting as shown.

Sitting tall bring one leg across the other if you are able and rotate your upper body towards the bent leg. 

Inhale as you lift and rotate, then exhale to come back to center.  Repeat for 4-6 repetitions on each side holding up to a 10 count.

standing hip abduction image

Standing Hip Abduction Exercise -

Hip abduction exercise or bringing the leg out away from the midline of the body is important in helping to stabilize the pelvis while working the lateral muscles of the hip and thigh.

This exercise can be done lying or standing as shown. 

When you are standing you have the added benefit of balancing and stabilizing the opposite piriformis muscle as you work to contract the leg that is moving.

Standing tall swing your leg out to the side without changing your upper body posture. 

Return to center and repeat for 6-8 repetitions on each side.

pilates side kicks image

Pilates Side Kicks-

Pilates front and back side kick exercise is a an excellent way to do piriformis exercises by stabilizing the pelvis while swinging the leg forward and back. 

This exercise works both the hip flexors and extensors at the same time.

Lying on your side as shown, make sure the hips and shoulders are stacked over each other.

Bring the top leg to hip level and keeping the pelvis still begin swinging the leg forward with a pulse and then to the back with an exhale drawing your belly button in to your spine to keep the back protected.

Repeat on each side for 8-10 repetitions.

pilates reformer frog leg image

Pilates Reformer Exercise -

The Pilates Reformer Frog Leg exercise with the feet turned out, heels together is a great way to get into the deep muscles of the buttocks doing piriformis exercises.

Working on the reformer with a little spring tension with your feet in the straps like shown bring your heels together and toes turned out. 

You may do this lying on the floor without the springs as well.

Squeeze your heels together as you exhale and push them straight out from your bottom or sitz bones.  Inhale as you pull them back to start folding your legs and knees move towards your shoulders.

Repeat for 8-10 repetitions really "zipping" up the pelvis and squeezing your buttocks as you reach your heels away.

Leave Piriformis exercises and find more ways to work on stretching and stabilizing the hips and buttocks.

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