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How to Strengthen the Piriformis Muscle

By Dr. Rachel Levine

The piriformis muscle is responsible for the external rotation of the hip joint. It is located just behind the gluteal muscle. It runs alongside the sciatic nerve and, in some cases, the sciatic nerve runs through the muscle. Sitting all day can cause the hip flexors to overwork, while the gluteals in turn weaken. Problems with the piriformis muscle cause pain to radiate out of the buttock region, either up towards the spine, or down the thigh. This pain is often mistaken for a herniated disc or sciatica. Sitting, climbing stairs, and squatting can be painful, while walking or running might cause no discomfort at all. Strengthening the muscles in this area of the body will help with problems.

Lie on your back with your spine and shoulders resting on the floor. Legs should be extended.

Put the ankle weight around your thigh and bend the leg at a 90-degree ankle, so that the leg is off the floor. Your hip should remain on the floor as should your shoulders.

Cross the bent leg over the center of your body. Hold your leg in this position for 3 seconds and return. Make sure you keep your hips, shoulders, arms and head on the floor. Only go as far as you can go without strain or pain.

Repeat 10 times on each leg.

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