I just wrote of all the fun that can be had, as well as the challenges, of running outside in the winter. To continue on that theme…….
With all that slipping on loose and uneven snow and ice, your leg and glut muscles are subjected to increased stress. The Piriformis muscle is one of those muscles that can be vulnerable to that constant instability with each step, as I relearned again this winter.
The Piriformis (located under the large Gluteus maximus muscle of your butt) helps rotate your thigh laterally (out) as well as helps stabilize the hip joint. The Sciatic nerve passes under, over or through the Piriformis. Therefore, if the Piriformis is tight, not only can you feel pain in your butt, but the possible entrapment of the sciatic nerve may also cause pain down the back of the leg, following the path of the sciatic nerve. This link provides a great photo of it’s location, as well as other info)
I have off and on Piriformis tightness, that I am usually able to keep in check with massage, acupuncture, self-massage with a tennis ball, and stretching. However, with running in the snow of these recent storms, it has become irritated again.
I was lucky enough to have an acupuncture appointment yesterday, just as my Piriformis was really feeling sore. I have been going to my Acupuncturist, Mary Lello (207-761-7228), for over 2 years. I love her treatments, which have helped me tremendously with several injuries. She has a specific treatment for treating Sciatica (a tight Piriformis can cause Sciatica = pain (caused by the compression of the Sciatic nerve) that radiates from the low back or glut region down the back of the leg to the calf, and foot). So this morning on my run, my Piriformis was feeling much better.
Massage, of course, is also excellent for reducing Piriformis tightness. But probably the best thing you can do for Piriformis pain, is regular self-care at home. Massaging your gluts with a tennis ball is easy. Lay with your back on the floor, knees bent with feet on the floor. Lift your butt and place the tennis ball under the area of pain – lower/mid glut. Release some of your body weight onto the tennis ball and roll it under your glut using your own weight, hitting all those tight painful areas. A few minutesof rolling (as well as holding the ball on the really tight areas) is all it takes. It is best if done daily – or at least regularly.
Remember, that the longer you have had the pain, the longer it will take to go away. So don’t expect all the pain to disappear with one massage, if you have had glut pain for years. However, the self-care options can be a great way to keep a tight Piriformis muscle from becoming an injury. Enjoy!!!