How To Use The Foam Roller For Piriformis Syndrome
IntroductionBack pain is an incredibly common complaint. In fact, if you go through life without experiencing back pain you are in the minority i.e. it is abnormal! However, a smaller group of people suffer "sciatic" symptoms as a component of their presentation. These symptoms may include:
- Buttock and Leg Pain
- Sensations Changes - pins and needles, numbness
- Muscle Weakness
What Is Piriformis Syndrome?Piriformis syndrome is a cause of approximately 6 - 8% of low back pain presentations (Fishman et al., 2002; Kirschner et al., 2009). Piriformis syndrome, sometimes known as "Runner's Bum", occurs when the piriformis muscle is shortened or spasms as a response to trauma or overuse (repeated episodes of microtrauma) (Hopovian et al., 2010). This tightness can cause 'entrapment', compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve - and may result in pain within the 'sciatic area' and other sciatic symptoms (Fishman, 2003).
Anatomy and Muscular Contributions to Piriformis Syndrome
- Piriformis muscle
- Gluteal muscles
As well as tightness, piriformis syndrome is also contributed to by reduced strength and control in a number of the back/pelvic muscles. These include:
- Gluteal muscles - particularly the 'external rotators'
- Core muscles
So, what can be done about this condition?
Foam Roller Exercises for Piriformis SyndromeThe most appropriate exercises are those that target the myofascial structures of the:
Should I Do Anything Else For Piriformis Syndrome?Yes! Unfortunately, the foam roller is only one component of the successful rehabilitation of piriformis syndrome. To fully resolve this complex problem you should also undertake:
- Regular Hip Stretching (gluteals, piriformis, adductors)
- Gluteal, pelvic and core strengthening exercises
- Be guided by your physiotherapist - who can take you through all of this including a full rehabilitation program