by Shannon Crow, E-RYT 500

Piriformis Syndrome occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed by the piriformis muscle.

Piriformis Muscle Sciatic Nerve MamaNurture Prenatal YogaThe piriformis muscle is located under the gluteal (buttock) muscles and it is involved in almost all movements of the hip and leg. This muscle is attached to the sacrum and stretches out to the larger trochanter of the femur.

The sciatic nerve branches out from the lower spine and threads its way behind the hip joint and can either run alongside the piriformis muscle or sometimes go right through it. The sciatic nerve is the largest in the body, running along the back of the leg and to the foot.

Click here to see a Yoga for Piriformis Syndrome sequence (on the MamaNurture website).


Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome may include:

  • Tingling or numbness down the leg, sometimes to the foot
  • Low back pain
  • Pain associated with prolonged sitting and/or standing
  • Increase in pain when moving from sitting to standing
  • Deep pain in the hip or buttock
  • Pain with hip flexion, adduction and internal rotation (squatting)
  • Tightness or pain in the calf muscles and hamstrings
  • Decreased range of movement of the hip
  • SI (Sacroiliac Joint) instability

Piriformis Syndrome May be Relieved by:

  • massage soaps and towelMassage
  • Rest
  • Application of heat and/or ice
  • Yoga and stretches that reduce sciatic nerve compression
  • Osteopathy
  • Healthy posture
  • Physiotherapy
  • Decrease exercises done on hills or uneven surfaces


Causes of Piriformis Syndrome may Include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Poor standing posture (pronation and flat-footedness)
  • Not sitting equally on both sitz bones (sitting on a foot or wallet)
  • Gardening (kneeling and bending movements)
  • Prolonged sitting and/or driving
  • Injury or tension
  • Shortened hip flexors, causing anterior pelvic tilt
  • Overuse of piriformis muscle (exercises that involve bending and lifting, squatting with heavy object, step machines, running and other repetitious movements or forceful rotation with weight on one leg)