If you’ve been experiencing sciatica, hip, or lower back pain, there’s a tiny muscle you should know about. It’s called the piriformis, and it plays a crucial role in your daily movements. The piriformis enables you to move your hips, upper legs, and feet away from your body. However, it can also be the culprit behind sciatica when it becomes tight and pinches the sciatic nerve. This can lead to numbness, tingling, and excruciating pain that can last for hours.

The strains of daily life can put additional pressure on the sciatic nerve, exacerbating the pain. But the good news is that there are simple and effective ways to stretch the piriformis muscle and find relief from sciatica pain. I’ll walk you through 10 powerful piriformis stretches that you can try at home. Don’t forget to watch the accompanying videos to ensure you’re doing them correctly.

1. Easy Seated Stretch

  • Instructions:
    • Sit in a chair and cross your sore leg over the knee of your other leg.
    • Keeping your spine straight, bend your chest forward. If there’s no pain, you can bend forward a little more.
    • Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
    • Repeat the stretch with your other leg.

2. Standing Piriformis Stretch

  • Instructions:
    • Stand with your back against a wall and your feet about 24 inches from the wall for extra support if you have trouble balancing.
    • Place the leg that’s causing you pain over the knee of your other leg, creating the shape of the number 4.
    • Lower your hips at a 45-degree angle until they reach the ground. Bend the leg you’re standing on as needed.
    • Bend forward at the waist, reaching your arms down to the ground while keeping your spine straight.
    • Hold for 30-60 seconds.
    • Switch legs when done.

3. Supine Piriformis Stretch

  • Instructions:
    • Lie down and bend your knees upwards.
    • Cross the affected leg over your other leg and bend it upward toward your chest.
    • Grab your knee with one hand and your ankle with the other hand. Pull the bent leg across your body until your glutes feel tight.
    • Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and release.

4. Outer Hip Piriformis Stretch

  • Instructions:
    • Lie on your back and bend your sore leg upward, placing your foot close to the back of your other knee.
    • Tuck your foot behind that knee and twist your leg to the opposite side. Your knee should be touching the ground (or as close as possible).
    • Place the hand on your opposite knee and raise your opposite arm in the air.
    • Hold for 20 seconds.
    • Switch to the other leg.
    • After this stretch, to recover, lie on your back, bend both knees together, and gently pull them toward your chest using your hands.

5. Groin/Long Adductor Stretch

  • Instructions:
    • Sit on the floor and stretch your legs straight out in front of you, spreading them as far apart as possible.
    • Place your hands on the floor next to each other, angling your torso forward toward the ground.
    • Lean forward and rest your elbows on the ground. If you experience pain, stop immediately!
    • Remain in this position for 10-20 seconds.

6. Inner Thigh/Short Adductor Stretch

  • Instructions:
    • Sit on the ground with the soles of your feet together in front of your pelvis.
    • Hold your ankles with the opposite hands (left hand – right ankle and vice versa).
    • Gently push downward with your knees, aiming to touch the ground with them. If you feel pain, stop and hold the stretch just short of that point.
    • Hold for 30 seconds, release, and flutter your legs in that position (like a butterfly) for 30 seconds.
    • For an even deeper stretch, push your knees down with your elbows or bend your torso forward while keeping your back straight.

7. Side Lying Clam

  • Instructions:
    • Lie down on the side of your body that isn’t in pain.
    • Bend your legs back, holding one foot over the other and keeping your legs parallel to each other. You should form an “L” shape.
    • Keep your feet together and lift the top knee while keeping the rest of your body still.
    • Slowly bring your knee to the initial position.
    • Repeat 15 times.

8. Hip Extension

  • Instructions:
    • Get down on all fours, making sure your hands are in line with your shoulders.
    • Raise your affected leg upward with your knee bent toward the ceiling.
    • Gradually lower your leg until it’s almost touching the ground.
    • Repeat 15 times.

9. Supine Piriformis Side Stretch

  • Instructions:
    • Lie on the ground with your legs flat and back straight.
    • Bend your sore leg upward, resting the foot on the outer side of the opposite leg beside the knee.
    • Ease the knee of your affected leg across the middle of your body with your opposite hand until you feel a stretch. Ensure that both your shoulders and hips remain on the ground.
    • Hold for 30 seconds, return to the starting position, and switch legs.
    • Repeat the process 2-3 times.

10. Buttocks Stretch for the Piriformis Muscle

  • Instructions:
    • Get into a position on all fours, with your hands and knees on the ground.
    • Bring the foot of your affected leg underneath your stomach, twisting it toward the opposite side near the hip, and point the knee toward the shoulder.
    • Lower your head until your forehead touches the ground, and lean your forearms on the ground for support.
    • Slowly stretch the non-affected leg out behind you while keeping your pelvis straight.
    • Push your hips slightly toward the floor.
    • Hold for 30 seconds and return to the initial position slowly. Repeat 2-3 times.

By incorporating these stretches into your daily routine, you can relieve sciatica, hip, and lower back pain. Remember, it’s important to listen to your body and stop if you experience any sharp pain. If the pain persists or worsens, consult with a healthcare professional. Take care of your body, and enjoy a pain-free life!