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Piriformis Release Massage

Piriformis is a deep, tight glute muscle that can greatly benefit from release via massage. Piriformis can contribute to a ton of glute tightness, buttock pain, and tailbone pain - and effective Piriformis massage release can potentially eliminate all of it.

Piriformis Release Massage
Piriformis Muscle

Piriformis Release Anatomy

The Piriformis muscle lies deep in the glute muscle group, underneath the large Gluteus Maximus muscle. Piriformis connects from the sacrum (tailbone) to the top of the femur, as shown in the image above. These two attachments of Piriformis allow it to powerfully rotate the leg externally.

Piriformis Function

As described above, the Piriformis muscle externally rotates the leg when it contracts in isolation. However, Piriformis is also very active in dynamic sports. Piriformis contracts whenever you cut in basketball, swing a baseball bat, or shoot a hockey puck. All of these motions share the commonality of requiring work from the Piriformis muscle to move.

Signs You Need Piriformis Release Massage

Now that we know what the Piriformis muscle is, we can get into the fun stuff - how to know if your Piriformis is causing problems. People can potentially benefit greatly from deep Piriformis massage if they carry any of the following symptoms, although this is not an exhaustive list.

Piriformis Massage Symptom 1: Duck Feet

Duck feet, or toes pointed outward, is a great sign you may have a Piriformis problem. The reason behind this is a tight Piriformis muscle will externally rotate the leg and point the toes outward. If you have duck feet, try Piriformis release via massage and see if your feet naturally point more straight forward.

Piriformis Massage Symptom 2: Glute & Tailbone Pain

The following pain pattern, as illustrated by Travell and Simons, displays the areas in the body where Piriformis trigger points and tightness can refer pain [1]. The bright red areas are most prominent at the tailbone and outer glute, so if you feel nagging pain in those areas Piriformis release may be for you.

piriformis muscle pain massage release

Piriformis Muscle Referred Pain Pattern [1]

Piriformis Massage Symptom 3: Buttock Pain from Sitting

Piriformis muscle pain is typically triggered by a single high impact event (like playing basketball for the first time in years, breaking into a sprint without warming up, etc.), but can be made chronically worse by sitting [1]. This is due to the shortening of the Piriformis muscle that can happen when sitting in chairs, which aggravates an already tight muscle. If you sense the pain pattern above when sitting for long periods of time, Piriformis massage is definitely something you should look into.

Piriformis Massage Symptom 4: Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis Syndrome is a gnarly phenomenon where the Piriformis muscle gets so tight that it compresses the sciatic nerve and shoots pain, numbness, and/or tingling down the leg. I already wrote an article about this topic so I will not go into too much detail here, but Piriformis release massage could be the ticket to relieving this debilitating problem.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis Release Massage - How To

If you have identified Piriformis as a potential culprit to your pain, you will want to move forward with a deep tissue massage to release the Piriformis muscle of its constant tightness. Piriformis release can be done by the hands of a trained physical or massage therapist, or at home with a Piriformis release tool like QL Claw.

Piriformis Release Massage - Via Massage Therapist

Nothing is going to beat the treatment of trained hands when it comes to Piriformis muscle massage. Even if you master the art of Piriformis release at home a therapeutic, effortless massage done by a professional is incredible. However, I have heard the complaint that some do not like massage therapists digging their hands around their butts - especially women with male massage therapists. Comfortable or not, a competent professional will be able to release Piriformis effectively and therapeutically.

Piriformis Release Massage - At Home

The benefits of at home Piriformis release are also plentiful. You can do it on your own time, it is inexpensive, and you can do it to your own taste. In order to effectively massage and release Piriformis you will need the right tool for the job. You can try your luck with a lacrosse ball (like shooting darts blindfolded - you make get lucky and hit a bullseye and release Piriformis), or your can use a targeted, purposefully made massage tool like QL Claw. QL Claw is great because it not only can release Piriformis, but it can also release the other big 4 muscles that can contribute to a ton of lower back and hip pains when tight. Learn more about QL Claw and its benefits in Piriformis release with deep tissue massage below!

 QL Claw Piriformis Release Tool
QL Claw - Muscle Release Tool




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

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