Is Massage Good for Piriformis Syndrome?
Posted on 9th April 2020 at 10:00
There are many reasons why you might need to book a massage. Muscular pain is nearly always the reason but pinpointing the reason for the pain isn’t always as simple.
Piriformis Syndrome (PS) is a real pain in the bum (literally!) and you’ll most likely been told you have it or have decided that you do based on your symptoms. Be careful to get a proper diagnosis before you do anything else if you have only asked Dr Google!
But what is Piriformis Syndrome and can massage help it?
The piriformis is one of six lateral hip rotators
The Piriformis sits beneath your gluteus maximus (your bottom) and it’s involved in almost all movements of your hip.
Its main role is to stabilise the hip and rotate the thigh laterally. The sciatic nerves originate in the lumbar spine and travel down through the glutes, very close to the piriformis muscle, down the leg and branch off into smaller nerves that supply the lower leg and foot.
Although in 25% of people it actually runs through the piriformis itself!
You can now see why if this muscle becomes overloaded through repetitive exercise or sitting for prolonged periods it can cause the compression of the nerve and therefore pain and sometimes weakness.
What is Piriformis Syndrome?
Piriformis Syndrome is literally a pain in the backside. It is a neuro-muscular condition characterised by hip and buttock pain. Piriformis syndrome is caused when the piriformis muscle (located in the buttock region) spasms and causes pain. It can compress or irritate the nearby sciatic nerve.
This causes pain, numbness, and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot. It can feel similar to sciatic pain. Read more about Piriformis Syndrome here.
Is it Piriformis Syndrome or Sciatica?
Piriformis Syndrome is commonly mistaken for sciatica as the symptoms are incredibly similar. Sciatica stems from a dysfunction of a disc pressing on the nerve, whereas Piriformis Syndrome is caused by the sciatic nerve being compressed, resulting pain and/or dysfunction in the area.
Can massage help Piriformis Syndrome?
The simple answer here is yes – massage can help Piriformis Syndrome.
Piriformis Syndrome is caused by the tightening or spasm of the muscle and soft tissue massage techniques (usually used in a sports massage) can release the tension and restore proper function to the area.
To alleviate the problem effectively there are a number of things you can do, and sports massage is one of them.
Can you stop repeating the activity that may be causing the problem? Try to work out what you think or feel as caused the problem in the first place. A hunch is often right in this case, but of course consulting with an expert can guide you or steer you to the correct conclusion.
Use heat to relax the area and ease the muscles. Heat is a good healer for many muscle pains and a warm bath, hot water bottle, or heat packs can help.
Pain killers can help to make movement easier although we wouldn’t recommend this for long periods of time. Pain killers merely stop the pain, but they don’t get to the bottom of the problem. (See what we did there?!) We’d rather isolate the issue and work on it than mask it.
A combination of sports massage to release the tense tissue of the whole area, not just the piriformis muscle, alongside a series of home exercises a therapist can give you is the most effective way to treat Piriformis Syndrome, in our opinion.
Of course, if the situation persists, or there are other factors involved then a visit to your GP maybe required.
Sports massage can help Piriformis Syndrome
Here are some massage techniques that we find work well to help ease the pain and problems caused by Piriformis Syndrome.
Deep tissue massage:
This is a typical massage technique that we find work really well for Piriformis Syndrome. Deep tissue massage releases the lumbar, quadriceps, hamstrings, all gluteal muscles, and of course include the piriformis.
Soft Tissue Release (STR) is a form of assisted stretching that targets the muscle fibres and removes adhesions, scar tissue, and helps realign the tissues.
Trigger point therapy (TPT) is also very effective at encouraging the nervous system to relax allowing the muscle to kind of ‘re-set’ back to normal function.
Strengthening exercises are also key to help restore proper function to the Piriformis and surrounding muscles. Strengthening exercises get all the muscles doing their particular role properly so that other muscles aren’t over working and kicking it all out of balance.
Ideally you need an assessment so that a therapist can go through a program for you to follow at home in between massages to speed up the recovery and get you back to normal as quickly as possible. Book a consultation here.
Need some help?
We see a lot of Piriformis Syndrome in our clinics. It’s very common. The good news is, sports massage (along with exercises) can go a long way to solving the issue.
Book a massage now and we’ll take a look at your specific issues and apply a program and treatment to get you functioning well again.
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