Piriformis Syndrome Stretches & Exercises – Ask Doctor Jo

Piriformis Syndrome Stretches & Exercises – Ask Doctor Jo

Ohhh! Hey everybody, it’s Doctor Jo, and today
I’m gonna show you some stretches and exercises for piriformis syndrome. It’s literally a
pain in the mutt, I mean butt. Let’s get started. The first two stretches I’m gonna show you
are modified stretches. The best way to do them is lying down, but sometimes you just
don’t have time to lie down, maybe you’re at work and you want to stretch out, or maybe
you aren’t comfortable lying down on the ground. So just seated in a chair, take the leg of
the side that you want to stretch, so if it’s my left side, I’m gonna cross it over into
a figure 4 position. So if I’m looking down, I see the number 4. You’re gonna feel that
stretch right on that bottom area there, and if this isn’t quite enough, try and keep your
back straight, and just bend forward at your hips. And right about there I can feel just
on my bottom right where I’m sitting, the stretch. And that’s where that piriformis
stretch is. So if you need even more, some people will kind of take their leg a little
bit and then pull towards them. And just hold that stretch for about 30 seconds, come back
up and then do that 3 times. Then the next one is crossing the knee over to the opposite
shoulder. So this time still almost in that figure 4 position except you don’t bring the
knee down. You take your opposite hand and pull that knee up towards the opposite side.
So again, I feel that stretch in that piriformis area. But it changes just a little bit so
it’s right here verses maybe at the bottom. Again holding that for about 30 seconds. Some
people kind of like to come in and hug it, and then relax and do that 3 times as well.
So now I’m gonna show you the versions on the ground and some exercises as well. So
now I’m gonna show you the same 2 stretches lying down. So just lie down on the ground.
Prop both knees up. Be nice and relaxed, and the same thing, you’re gonna go into that
figure 4 position where you take the side you want to stretch and cross it over where
your ankle is just right above your knee. Now this time instead of bringing your body
up, you’re gonna bring your legs to you. So take your hands and grab the other side just
below the knee and pull it towards you. So again, I’m feeling that stretch right on that
bottom area right there. And you want to hold that for 30 seconds, relax and then do that
3 times. Then the knee to the opposite shoulder, still in this position, this time take that
right hand, and pull it over towards the right shoulder. Your leg doesn’t necessarily have
to stay on the other one. If you’re a little more flexible, you can bring it all the way
up and over, or even slightly hug it. But it’s not straight up, it’s over at an angle.
And again, this time it’s a little bit lower of a stretch, but you’re still stretching
that piriformis area. Holding that for 30 seconds and then coming back down and doing
that 3 times. So now for some exercises.You’re gonna roll over onto your side. Bring your
knees together and bent. You want your hips to be perpendicular to the ground. You’re
gonna do a clam shell now. So with the clam shell, a lit of time your hips are gonna want
to roll back, but try and keep it nice and straight, up and down, and just take that
top leg and lift it up. So it doesn’t have to go high cause if you go real high, you’re
gonna want to roll back. And if you’re having a hard time keeping your hips up and down,
you can put your back against a wall and then bring it up. So just nice and slow up and
come back down. And that’s working those glutes and that piriformis area back there. So these
are a little tougher than they look. Just start off with 10 – 15 of them. And then you
can work your way up to 20 – 25. If that becomes easy, you can take a little ankle weight and
put it around your thigh, or you can take a resistive band and wrap it around your legs
and then again lifting up. THe next exercise is gonna be a side plank. So this time, you’re
gonna straighten out your legs. Make sure your elbow is pretty close underneath your
shoulder. Pretty much in alignment. The legs are nice and straight, so they’re not up this
way. And you’re just gonna come up trying to be in as much of a straight line as you
can. And just start off with about 10 seconds, come back down, try to work your way up to
30 seconds to a minute. If that’s too hard to start off with, you can just go at your
knees and come up and start off with this and work your way up. And once that becomes
easy, then you can go back to straight leg and then come all the way up. With the side
you want to work towards the ground. And then the last exercise is gonna be over on your
stomach. So this time, the side that you want to work, you’re gonna bend your knee up where
your foot is towards the ceiling. And then just lift it up and slowly come back down.
Now try and keep your hips level on the ground. Sometimes people kind of want to roll and
come up, but really try and keep them down on the ground and just lift that thigh up
off the ground, and slowly come back down. So again, just start off with about 10 – 15,
and then work your way up to 20 – 25. If that becomes easy, then you can put a little bit
of an ankle weight, 1 – 2 pounds, around your ankle. And then start back over. So those
were your stretches and exercises for piriformis syndrome. If you have any questions, leave
them in the comments section. If you’d like to check out some other videos, go to AskDoctorJo.com
Don’t forget to like us. And remember, be safe, have fun, and I hope you feel better

87 Replies to “Piriformis Syndrome Stretches & Exercises – Ask Doctor Jo”

  1. Thanks for all the great videos–very clear instructions and fun attitude. What are your thoughts re long hold Stretching (10 or more seconds) vs. short hold (1.5 – 2 seconds) and active repetitions as w Active Isolated Stretching techniques. Does it depend on the application or what?

  2. I was diagnosed with this a few months back. I'm so excited to see this video. This is what I did in therapy. My buttock burns so much until I stand most of the time. Also I do lots of squats to strengthen my quads, hamstrings & glutes. Thanks for sharing. You have been a blessing to me.

  3. I'm probably the stiffest person on earth but at this point with so much sciatica pain i'm willing to try this . Could Sciatica been brought on by an injury ( hockey ) ? I was tripped in front of the net a few years ago an took an award fall on the ice on my butt . Think he pain started shortly after that fall . Thanks .

  4. Thanks a lot for this doctor Jo! Question, how long have you noticed that it takes to recover from piriformis syndrome from experience,

  5. Hi Dr Jo!

    Great video. I love your calming, soothing style!

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on foam rolling/ lacrosse ball the glute for piriformis syndrome ( self myofascial release )?

    Thanks in advance!

  6. I have a severe piriformis syndrome, and it hurts really bad to do the stretches. My chiropractor told me I should still do them and gradually increase the time I hold the stretch. Will this damage my sciatic nerve? Thanks.

  7. Hi , i been going in circle for over 2 years with this pain in my right side groin, quads, hamstring knee and calf. Last month i found out it is piriformis syndrome.

    My problem is i find it very difficult to sleep my right knee calf, glute quad and hamstring becomes tight and painful no matter what position i sleep in amd same with driving. Also has this radiating sharp pain on right leg i think sciatic nerve getting agitated.
    So i have been doing my piriformis stretching recommended by my physio but it has made it worse.

    I have consulted another physio last week and he advise to stop any activities whatsoever. Apply heat, have multi vitamins and stretch the opposite i.e. Good leg. Rest for 2-3 months!!

    I am frustrated by this pain. For the first year i could manage it but last 6 months have been living hell for me. No matter which position i sleep I can't sleep and have to resort to muscle relaxants. Am really tensed, will i be needing surgery? My lumbar thoracic scans have been perfectly normal. Your advise would be greatly appreciated.

  8. Hi Dr Jo..had a bad case of this.. your exercises help, but this week I went back to the dr. He gave me a shot which helped a great deal, my issue now is the outter back thigh muscle is really sore.. what stretching excercises will help with that? My heel is still numb too, but not as bad as before.

  9. I have the problem of not being able to cross over into the figure 4 position due to the pain. Any way to correct this first?

  10. Wait, what's the difference between sciatica and piriformis syndrome? I know I can probably research it, but I'd rather hear it from u🤡

  11. Thank You so much Dr. Joe; you are amazing and thanks for helping me get some much needed sleep with these piriformis stretches and strength building exercises.

  12. Dear Doctor Jo, I am 23 years old and writing this to let you know the extent of my lower back pain symptoms. I am hopeful and quite optimistic that you will surely advise me some very useful exercises.

    1- Pain in my lower back since last 10 months.
    2- Right hip Pain; It also propagates down the right Leg.
    3- Right hip muscle stiffness; which makes the movement of right leg difficult.
    4- Pain gets worse while standing and too much walking.
    5- besides this sitting and lying in some specific postures causes numbness down the leg.
    6- I get relief from pain during sitting and sleeping.
    7- I can bend forward with little pain but bending back is difficult; after exercise I can bend back easily but with little pain in the right hip region.

    MRI of Lumber Spine (Comments):

    1-Straightening of Lumber curve.
    2-Dehydrated diffuse posterior disc bulge with central disc herniation at L4-L5 level, causing spinal canal & bilateral exit foramina stenosis.
    3-Diffuse posterior disc bulge at L5-S1 level causing relative left exit foraminal stenosis.
    4-Note is made of mild ligamentum at L4-L5 & L5-S1 levels.
    5-Pre and Para vertebral soft tissues are normal.

    Recently, I have been advised to exercise the following:

    1-Gluteal Sets
    2-On elbows (Prone)
    4-Backward Bend (Standing)
    5-Lumber Rotation (Side-Lying)
    6-Lumber Rotation Stretch
    7-Forward Lean (All Fours)

    *Note: I think, it's Piriformis syndrome….!

    Doctor, Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

  13. What would you think of, in the first exercise that my knee got tight and my hip popped when lifting foot over other legs knee? My thigh felt like some muscles on the inside gave out.

  14. I notice waking up in the morning my left buttock and calf feel stiff and sore the first 5 to 10 mins i wake up. I think that my piriformis is inflamed due to sitting. If your sitting for long periods of time that will put a lot of pressure on the piriformus muscle, the more pressure the more irritation.

  15. thanks for this. i hurt myself doing hill repeats. will start doing this everyday. can i continue to run?

  16. is it okey to do massage even you are in pain in left leg and hips? because i did after massage my left leg swelling.

  17. Hi Dr. Jo I just had my 2nd hip replacement 4 weeks ago and now I have this excruciating stabbing pain in my butt cheek which stops me in my tracks when I walk, I'm pretty sure I have piriformis. I am not able to cross my legs because of the replacement what other things would I be able to do?

  18. my right side butt hurts really bad, it at times feels like someone is pouring hot water from my butt to my foot. Terrible pain, thank for your help. But what's the position to sleep in? Thank you

  19. A very helpful video! I'm a relatively new runner (just finished the C25K program a few weeks ago) and was starting to get piriformis pain the day after I ran, and was feeling tightness in my hamstrings while I was running. I did these exercises yesterday and today I feel perfectly fine, even though I had a really hard run yesterday. I'm going to make these stretches a regular part of my routine!

  20. I encourage everyone to try the piriformis stretches. They have made a huge difference in my life. Every time I tried getting back into a regular stretching routine I would start off fine, but after a few weeks I would feel stabbing pains in my tail bone area. I finally went to physical therapy. I was told that my glutes were tight to compensate for my core being weak and that my glutes were pulling on my back. I Googled around and found the piriformis stretches above. It was like magic. I felt like a clamp was taken off of my back. The first few weeks I did this stretch I got so much tension relief that I felt drowsy afterwards. I have far fewer back pains now that I regularly do this stretch and that I have been working on my core.

  21. Can the position for the sitting piriformis stretch be used to stretch the psoas ( if you push down on the knee of the crossed leg)? I ask, because after watching a 3D animation of the psoas in motion it looked to me like that position, while pushing down on the knees, will sretch the psoas. When I do that, my lower back feels MUCH looser and it is much more easy for me to stand up straight.

  22. Hi Doctor Jo! I've had piriformis syndrome for a while, but now that I'm pregnant (!) I can't do the usual stretches. Any suggestions on modifying the lying down stretches?

  23. i adored the first seconds of your video… The Doggy tried to bite or lick your face? My dog do that all the time when i'm talking or playing with him! Really funny

  24. I love your channel, so helpful. My question is, for this first stretch where you are sitting, I actually feel it better if i am standing and act like i am sitting by lowering down on one leg and "sitting on an invisible chair". Do you know the name of that stretch by any chance? The one where you are standing and bend down? thanks! keep up the fantastic work!

  25. After all my years teaching pre-natal exercises, body positions and postures….I need a helper/guide/aid when it's my own sciatica, disc issues, muscle stretches for my retirement longevity. THANK YOU, Dr. Jo. Great videos!

  26. Thanks so much for sharing these. I have enjoyed a number of other stretches you have posted. You make them fun and have clear instructions and tips. If I am wanting a stretch for something. I always try to check your site and bookmark the results.

  27. Hello Dr. Jo, I have been experiencing buttock pain since long, but my MRI reports are normal and also the LS spine AP with Pelvis is normal. But the symptoms of pain are similar to that of sciatica. So, is it that I have Piriformis syndrome? Plz do reply.

  28. When I sit down with my legs stretched and try to touch my left foot my left butt aches and can reach only a little below my calf. On the other hand I can touch my right toes completely without any problem. Also I get Sciatica pain only on my left side. If I do these exercises twice daily will it help?

  29. Hi…ur exercise are awesome.can u just tell in detail about how much duration these exercise needs to do in a day ? and is massage with tennis ball or roller effective? and pls share proper treatment like massage duration,exercise duration,any precaution during sitting &sleeping for better recovery(painless).

  30. Thank you. I have done a few of these and feel about 90% better. I put a folding chair on the side of my bed and my iPad on my bed and do the sitting exercises along with you. I'm 76 years old. You never forget this pain.

  31. Hey Doc! Thank you so much for taking time to post these videos. I am working through a recent IT Band Syndrome and a back injury with a pinched nerve causing Sciatica. These videos are a huge help for visual aid. You amazing for helping so many people and I appreciate you.

  32. Doctor Jo .. I did some heavy works for 4 hours and then next morning I feel pain in lower back and little in leg. After 1 week lower back pain is gone . But leg pain still continue.. it is sciatica or perifomis muscle sciatica ??

  33. Dr Jo, you are a pleasure to watch and learn from. I learned about the piriformis tightness from another one of your videos and it saved my life (figuratively speaking). I had always thought that I had back problems and for a while tried to solve them by rolling a tennis ball on the tense deep tissue points, around my pocket level. Unfortunately, the back pain and a point in hip never really subsided and eventually led me to stop running. I tried chiropractors, rest and restaring slowing, etc. and now, I'm running again thanks to the exercises.
    My question: Will I able to diminish the stretches at some point because for the moment I do them after running and the next day and then sometimes after a long stop and start walk, it comes back.

  34. I wonder if this priformis syndrome ever heals, because no matter what type of exercises i applied, the pain is still there when i quit them. How can i eradicate this syndrome, is it possible?

  35. Hi Doctor Jo. Thanks for the great video. I have one question though, I have been having this pain in my right tailbone area for almost 3 weeks now. When I try to do left side plank to lift myself up, and at that moment I get the same pain in my tailbone area (only on the right) and the pain is gone after. Does that have to do with my tight piriformis as well? or is it possibly si joint problem?

  36. Doc, I can get really deep into the piriformis stretch on one side, but the other is so tight. When I do the "figure four" stretched I can barely reach through it on my left side–very little room for movement before I reach my limit. What causes the imbalance? How do I address it?

  37. I tried to perform the last exercise and can barely lift my leg. Do you have any idea what could be an indication of? Thanks so much in advance.

  38. Hello Dr. Jo! May I know the difference of Ischial burisitis, hip bursitis and piriformis syndrome? I feel a pain in the right butt cheek, it sometimes radiates to my thigh. It's difficult to walk, as if my butt is bruised. It's also painful after prolonged inactivity. I didn't have any injuries, I gave birth via c-section last March 5 and I started to feel the pain on March 8 after I slept to a not so comfortable bed in a side lying position. Had xrays and MRI, findings were intact spinal cord, straightened lumbar alignment and no frank disk herniation. Before my right hip was sore as well but now my right hip is no longer painful due to some therapies and meds however there is still pain in my right butt cheek whenever Im moving. What might be the possible cause of the pain? Can I do the exercises on the video?

  39. Hello Dr Jo! Tried the exercises and the pain subsided immediately. I have a question, after prolonged sitting, my first five steps are painful. Can I do something about this?

  40. Thank You so very much, I love all Your videos on Sciatica and Piriformis. Your demos & explanations are really clear and easy to understand. I just need to ask Your help please with : what can I do , for my terrible spasms and cramps that I get almost immediately I begin anything? The cramp-pain is also agony, as I get them even after I sleep for just 2-3hours (in my shins, feet, thighs, calves…. ) Despite exactly 1 month ago today, I had a Nerve-root Block at L4/L5.

  41. Hey doctor Jo.. Aneeqa here PT.. i am fresh graduate.. and when i need something i prefer to watch your videos.. and really it's helpful..

  42. I had an accident 4 years ago and I broke my pelvic bone on my left side .At that time I felt a little numbness on my left cheek ( doctor said that a nerve could have been hurt on my piliformis muscles).Now ,after four years the numbness increased and it goes down my left foot .Could your exercises help me to relief this numbness or what exercises do you recommend?Thank you very much.

  43. Incredible info Dr. Jo. I have had a problem for years. I can't walk far without pain in the area in this video. I am going to do these exercises!

  44. Hello Dr Jo – Is there a pillow you recommend for car riding? My piriformis muscle really acts up when in the car. TY

  45. This was excellent! Thank you. Very clear and simple. I've had this syndrome for years now and have never seen some of these stretches/exercises. I have very wide hips so hopefully I can do the side plank properly. Looking forward to relief.

  46. You are an angel! 25 years old and almost fell flat on my face Getting out of bed today from the shooting pain. Bless you !!!

  47. I'm extatic about these stretches. I just started them yesterday and today for the first time in almost two years I was pain free. There was a slight pinch but no pain. I intend to continue. Hopefully this is the big break I've been dying for.
    I've been through physiotherapy several times but I never get relief like this.
    Thank you DoctorJo.

  48. Hi Dr. Jo. Hope you are still there to answer a question. Recently diagnosed with piriformis and prescribed PT. So far no good. 6 sessions. My PT has me doing a few 10 each side, brief stretches and lots and lots of nerve glides. All she does is light back massage but said my gluteus are weak and am doing Elastic band stretches, using stepper machine one a week and bridges. The last time I did these the pain and numbness got more severe. She said the muscle is tender and don’t do any other stretches although I can do yours just fine. Doesn’t this program sound a little bit opposite…strengthening while the muscle is obviously still tight has stopping clamping on the nerve? I am still in pain and getting nowhere. Does this sound odd to you?

  49. Thank you…my very thoughts. I have learned more from this site than any book or advice from my PT. Keep up the good work..you are helping a lot of people.

  50. Dr. Jo, what are your thoughts on dry needling for piriformis? Have you ever known anyone to have it done for the piriformis and was it successful?

  51. Yes, I have read that it is very effective. I definitely have piriformis..both sides with the right one being much much worse. My problem is that it illegal in Pennsylvania. God forbid, someone here might actually get relief from pain with this procedure. I would have to travel to Maryland where they have plenty of physical therapists who do this. Thanks sweetie for your opinion.

  52. I have disc bulge & compression left lumbur & left leg very pan & burning can I do this stretches please guide mw

  53. Can you tell me what side you are working when you do the clamshell? It feels like it should be the right side but before in this video you worked the left side. Thank you.

  54. Thank you! Great stretches. I've had this horrible pain for about a month. How long until it's a big concern? I'm feeling a bit impatient…

  55. Thanks Dr Jo, I have last four years sciatica problem now last 4or5 days I am facing piriformis pain in my left led kindly guide me

  56. How do I know if it's para for mices or coccydynia? I had pain a few months ago in the coccyx area after sitting and it would be painful when I stood up. It went away on its own. Started up again recently and it's in the whole coccyx area and kind of a little in my buttocks. It just feels like a throbbing pain. But not all the time. My doctor ordered an X-ray back in June and there was nothing to show on the X-ray. I do sit very often on my side and a chair, with my legs up sort of horizontal to the ground. I also have one leg that's shorter than the other intend to compensate when I stand oh, it's always on that shorter life. Just wondering if those two crazy things could have anything to do with it or what the next step is. Being a very paranoid person, I can't help but think of the worst case scenario. ️ ☹️ Thanks in advance.

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