There are many reasons why you might need to book a massage. Muscular pain is nearly always the reason, but pinpointing the cause of the pain isn’t always as simple. One such elusive culprit could be Piriformis Syndrome (PS), a real pain in the bum (literally!). 
 
Remember: If you’re in pain, please make sure to get a proper diagnosis rather than relying solely on Dr. Google. Whilst Google is helpful, not following the correct advice from a qualified healthcare professional can put you at risk – stay safe, stay healthy! 

What is Piriformis Syndrome? 

Piriformis Syndrome is a neuromuscular condition characterised by hip and buttock pain. The piriformis muscle, located beneath your gluteus maximus (your bottom), is involved in nearly all hip movements. Its primary roles include stabilising the hip and rotating the thigh laterally. The sciatic nerve, which originates in the lumbar spine and travels down through the glutes and legs, runs very close to the piriformis muscle. In about 25% of people, it even runs through the piriformis itself! 
 
When the piriformis muscle becomes overloaded due to repetitive exercise or prolonged sitting, it can compress the sciatic nerve, causing pain, numbness, and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot. This condition can be confused with sciatica, but while sciatica stems from a disc pressing on the nerve, Piriformis Syndrome is due to the sciatic nerve being compressed by the piriformis muscle. 

Can massage help Piriformis Syndrome? 

The simple answer is yes—massage can help alleviate Piriformis Syndrome. This condition is caused by the tightening or spasm of the piriformis muscle. Soft tissue massage techniques, often used in sports massages, can release this tension and restore proper function to the area. 

How does massage help? 

To effectively address Piriformis Syndrome, a combination of techniques and lifestyle adjustments is often necessary. Sports massage can be a big part of this treatment plan. Here’s how it works: 
 
Release tense tissue: Sports massage focuses on releasing the tense tissue of the whole area, not just the piriformis muscle. This can help relieve pain and improve mobility. 
 
Improve blood flow: Massage increases blood flow to the affected area, promoting healing and reducing inflammation. 
 
Reduce muscle spasms: Techniques such as deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy can help relax the muscle and reduce spasms, providing relief from the symptoms. 
 
Enhance flexibility: Regular massage can improve the flexibility of the muscles around the hip and buttocks, reducing the likelihood of future flare-ups. 

Massage techniques for Piriformis Syndrome 

Here are some massage techniques that we find particularly effective for easing the pain and problems caused by Piriformis Syndrome: 
 
Deep tissue massage: This technique targets deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. It releases tension in the lumbar, quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and, of course, the piriformis. 
 
Soft tissue release (STR): This involves assisted stretching that targets the muscle fibres, removing adhesions and scar tissue, and helping to realign the tissues. 
 
Trigger point therapy (TPT): This method encourages the nervous system to relax, allowing the muscle to ‘re-set’ to normal function. 

Additional tips for managing Piriformis Syndrome 

In addition to massage, there are other things you can do that can help manage and alleviate Piriformis Syndrome: 
 
Identify and avoid triggers: Try to determine what activities or habits may be causing your symptoms. Reducing or modifying these activities can help prevent further irritation. 
 
Use heat therapy: Applying heat to the affected area can relax the muscles and ease pain. Consider using a warm bath, hot water bottle, or heat packs. 
 
Pain management: Painkillers can help make movement easier in the short term, but they should not be relied upon for long periods. It’s more beneficial to address the root cause of the pain. 
 
Strengthening exercises: Strengthening the piriformis and surrounding muscles can restore proper function and balance, reducing the strain on the piriformis. A therapist can provide a tailored exercise program for you to follow at home. 
 
Professional assessment: An assessment by a qualified therapist can help develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific needs, including both massage and exercises. 

Final thoughts 

At our clinics, we see a lot of Piriformis Syndrome cases, and we’re here to help. Sports massage, alongside a customised exercise programme, can go a long way in resolving the issue and getting you back to your normal activities, so why not book an appointment with our friendly team? 
 
Do you want to become a sports massage therapist and help people manage their pain? Take a look at our range of massage courses and introduction to massage therapy days. 
Tagged as: Health, sports massage
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