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Piriformis Muscle Pain | Tailbone and Buttock Pain from Piriformis Muscle

Piriformis is a short, deep glute muscle that lies underneath the large Gluteus Maximus muscle. Piriformis muscle pain can be excruciating and make everyday activities difficult. Don't take my word for it - the comedian Sinbad has a bit on the pains that Piriformis can cause. 

Piriformis Muscle Pain

Piriformis Muscle (red) from a Posterior View

 

Where Is Piriformis Pain Felt?

Piriformis muscle pain refers to the tailbone and outer buttock regions. (Read more on How to Sleep With Tailbone Pain) In the left image below from Travell & Simon's Myofascial Pain and Disfunction, the red areas represent where pain from Piriformis is typically felt [1].

That being said, there is another pain pattern the Piriformis muscle can cause - sciatic nerve pain down the leg. This phenomenon, known as Piriformis Syndrome, is triggered when the Piriformis muscle is so tight that it compresses the large sciatic nerve that runs from the base of the spine down the leg [2]. This can be extremely painful... trigger point therapy and stretching (in that order) are very important for patients with Piriformis Syndrome.

Piriformis Muscle Pain Patterns - Muscle Pain Chart

Piriformis Muscle Pain Pattern (left) and Piriformis Muscle (right) [1]

 

How To Relieve Piriformis Muscle Pain

Piriformis muscle pain relief requires ridding it of trigger points via massage and lengthening the muscle via stretching - in that order. Stretching the Piriformis is very difficult when a muscle contains knots/trigger points, so start with trigger point massage.

Piriformis Muscle Release Using QL Claw

ÔĽŅPiriformis Muscle Release Using QL Claw

Piriformis trigger point release can be done by your physical or massage therapist, using a lacrosse ball, or with a QL Claw device. I prefer the QL Claw for this function because a) I don't love my PT digging around in that area, b) The QL Claw stays on the ground and gets in there deep, and c) QL Claw was designed with Piriformis specifically in mind. QL Claw was designed to release the 5 muscles that contribute to the majority of the low back, hip, and glute pain - and Piriformis was certainly on that list. Check out QL Claw's Piriformis release tutorials and own your Piriformis muscle pain today!

 

QL CLAW

 

How To Stop Piriformis Pain

Piriformis muscle pain can be prevented by building strength and endurance in the gluteal muscles. The reason Piriformis muscle pain typically presents in the first place is due to a weakness, imbalance, or freak event (lifting a couch, jumping off a ledge, car crash, etc.) that places a load on the Piriformis muscle that it was not conditioned to handle.

Some great exercises you can do to prevent Piriformis muscle pain going forward include:

Strength:

Endurance:

 

Sources:

[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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