On Wednesday, we learned about the piriformis and how embodying this muscle could make the difference for pain free hips. Did you know that every day the piriformis is multi-tasking? It is responsible for lifting the leg away from the midline of your body while the hips are in flexion (like when you step out of your car or when you’re sitting on a motorcycle or riding a horse) and it is a lateral rotator of your hips. We use it when we walk and shift weight from one foot to another. It is also used to maintain balance, stabilizing the sacrum and sacroiliac (SI joints) and in sports that involve lifting and rotating the thighs, which is almost all of them! Runners and cyclists need to give extra love to their piriformis due to the repetitive contraction and release use of this muscle. Another thing to watch out for is your body alignment. Many of us have a habit of standing or walking with one or both feet pointing out (external hip rotation) which can chronically shorten, tighten and weaken the piriformis. With all this responsibility it’s no wonder the piriformis can get a little grumpy!
Keep yours happy by giving it a little attention and love with the same two Yoga Tune Up® gems I shared at the retreat. Half Happy Baby mini-vini and the YTU Therapy Ball work for Piriformis and SI joint release (While the therapy ball video demonstrates with the Classic Therapy Balls, you can use a Therapy Ball PLUS or ALPHA for gentler massage work on the floor as in the video or on the wall for more control of the intensity and depth of pressure).
Check out the video below for piriformis pacification with Half Happy Baby Mini-Vini!
Discover more poses with the Yoga Tune Up Pose of the Week
Watch the QuickFix Online Hips Video
This is so great! We hardly ever talk about or even think about the piriformis let alone what it actually does. This post was a great reminder that the way we walk has a huge effect on our muscles. And the video shows a wonderful way to open up the hips and the piriformis for ease in the back. Thank you!
Great post! I appreciate that you created context including what the piriformis does, how it moves and that you included both a yoga pose and ball technique for the reader’s use. I pinned this post for my own use as well as to share with clients.
I love the happy baby minivini! My piriformis has been troublesome, this is my new morning routine. thank you!
I’ll find great to massage my piriformis with the Alpha, thanks for share how to do it. Also it’s very good to make us aware to correct bad postures that makes our Piriformis angry, the half happy baby mini vino is a good way, to start to activate, balance and care. A Happy piriformis bring us joy when we performance any movement in our daily life.
Great post, thanks Cathy!
These are great options to address the Piriformis. Thank you for including the YTU Therapy Ball Piriformis video and for your advice to use the Alpha Ball for a gentler approach.
Knowing that I can apply the yoga tune-up moves in combination with rolling with the therapy balls to relieve a grumpy piriformis helps me enjoy many physical activities as I age. Adding in the factor of how I carry myself as well as becoming more aware of my posture when I sit and stand is something I have taken for granted throughout my life. Thanks for the great article!
Knowing that I can relieve a grumpy piriformis by yoga tune-up sequences and rolling with the therapy balls helps me stay active as I age. This allows me to do the things I love such as cycling, power walking, yoga and using the elliptical machine on a regular basis. Attending your yoga tune-up sessions has helped me become more aware of how simply carrying one’s self and body alignment is so important in caring for muscles like the piriformis that do so much for us “in the background”. Thanks for the great explanation!
Cathy I love how you present information in such an easily understood way. I’m going to show this sequence to my mom who is having SI joint issues, I think it will help her a lot.
I love the Half Happy Baby Mini-Vini! Being a runner and cyclist, I have had issues with my piriformis on a continual basis. Did the Half Happy Baby Mini-Vini in class today. I will definitely be adding that in more frequently to my workout schedule. It felt great.
I love the combination of the minivini with the tune up ball! I have piriformis syndrome and it I am always looking for new and creative ways to roll out this deep muscle! Thank you!
The piriformis fascinates me, so thank you for the great blog. I will also read the corresponding ones! My husband has hip issues and consistently walks in external rotation. I had forgotten about this mini-vini! We’ve started working on it again and I will certainly use in my YTU class.
Thank you for this blog!
The way you present the piriformis made me realize the link, for me, between my piriformis pain, repetitive right lumbar sprains in the past and external rotation of my right foot for years. This is all connected. Do you think the sacrum and sacroiliac joint can be responsible of all this together ? The people always said that lumbar sprains are from weakness of lumbar muscles, but this is very more than that ! What should I work more to help me ? Sure that this routine’s gonna be part of mine 🙂
Aujourd’hui, j’ai appris la pose 1/2 bébé joyeux mini-vini et elle va faire partie de mes routines régulières lors de mes enseignements en Pilates et en yoga car plusieurs élèves vivent avec des inconforts reliés au périforme. Merci Cathy!
Thanks for sharing this thorough blog about this poor, under-appreciated prirformis muscle that has made itself felt in my life, too, as a frequent cyclist. I will for sure include this great stretch and mobility sequence in my own practice and in my classes, along with the strengthening exercises for weak glutes, which seem to be a contributor to so many of us with piriformis rebellions!
Can it happen that if you use the YTU balls too aggressively on your piriformis that you could get tingling in your leg? This is what has happened to me. Could it be irritation of the sciatic nerve? How do I work on my very cranky piriformis without running into this problem?
Thanks in advance.
Thanks for this reminder, Cathy. I just wrapped up the Level 1 YTU training and it’s hard to remember everything! This post with the video helped to remind me of something else I haven’t brought into classes yet. Much appreciated!
Quick and simple fixes for the pain in the hips and sciatic nerve. Sitting down for hours and running right after wont help the pirformis and can lead to lower back pain. Rolling is an easy way to release muscle tension and feel better right away.
The pririformis is a bit pain in the butt for me. I enjoy using the the Alpha YTU balls to help soften up this area. My favorite for this area is the plow technique.
Super! I am a very active runner and biker. This is a great blog for keeping my piriformis happy. I will start by focusing on the Happy Baby mini-vini. I will focus on my gait as well to see if my feet are pointing out, which they probably are, and as of when do they start to point out during the gait motion. Thanks!
Yes it is a great point about the feet stance. I would also add that most people drive with their feet pointing out and if the drive is pretty long, it can easily fire up piriformis and create tension in gluetes. Bathroom break with ball massage is a must.
I did not know that walking with the feet pointing out could cause chronic shortening, tightening, and weakening of the Piriformis. I was very pigeon toed when I was younger and so for a longtime I consciously walked with my feet pointing out until I started walking with my feet somewhat straight. I noticed over the years that each time I took a break from a regular weekly workout, my hips would be so tight. I definitely need to consistently stretch and massage my hip muscles and pay attention to my body alignment. The YTU therapy balls are great. Thanks for sharing.
This should have more information about what to do to stabilize the joint. I find a lot of popping in my hip socket here and would like more information on how to keep safe in a pose like this.
I have chronic pain in my left hip and am looking forward to trying this series to open it up. I’m also going to be more conscious of rolling out my piriformis. So helpful!
I walk with an externally rotated right hip and I am becoming more aware of the effect on my piriformis. I recently rolled it out with my YTU balls, and the right side was so much more tender than the left!
I like this exercise .I felt much easier to open my hip !Thanks !
As you mentioned Cathy, the Piriformis can definitely be overworked by a lot of the activities we are doing. You also mentioned, in my opinion, one of the more common ways to overwork this muscle, and that is being unaware of our daily actions. Walking with one leg externally rotated or putting more weight on one leg than the other when standing having a conversation with someone can be detrimental to staying balanced. Minimize the distance between awareness and unawareness is key!
I love the half happy baby mini-vini. I am totally going to steal that for my flow classes.
This mini vini shows hip flexion, abduction, and external rotation w/ happy baby (contraction of the piriformis) flowing into hip flexion, adduction, and internal rotation; therefore, is it correct to assume that when trying to lengthen a muscle, you do an inversion of its direction of movement? (adduction and internal rotation as opposed to abduction and external rotation).
I like the flossing effect that this mini vini demonstrates, seeming to really help cue a very positive neural-muscular change.
I’m just learning the Half Happy Baby mini-viny and love the suggestion of combining it with tuneup ball rolling. Hopefully this will help relieve my tight hips as i’m always looking for relief here.
Great question Nicole! Weak glutes and hamstrings force the piriformis to take on extra work. Add strengthening exercises to your stretching and rolling regime. One dynamic YTU exercise i love is Monk Walks!
Which muscles should someone work on strengthening in order to support or not overwork the periformis.
I have a very grumbly piriformis that has been extra grumbly these past few days. For me, the piriformis is a huge emotion holder, and it really takes a beating when I am stressed. The difficult thing is that it is not an easy muscle to get to, and I have to modify many poses to give it some space to breathe. Though simple, this exercise was really soothing, and I could feel the muscles of my butt really stretch and open, enabling a wider a range of motion. What was really great was that I didn’t feel pain when I increased my range of motion — in poses like pigeon and pyramid, I sometimes feel pain too quickly and cannot find release. So, many thanks for posting this video. I also read your useful article on the piriformis!
I’ve had problems with my piriformis for a few years and never thought about doing the flow series on the video! I always use the balls or do Eka Pada Rajakapotasana ( physiotherapy). I’m gonna work on opening my hip sockets now! Thanks!