The system of joints, muscles and bones that make up the pelvic and gluteal parts of the body is complicated. It is filled with a web of interlocking tissues that work together to facilitate movement such as twisting and walking.
Having such a complex system of tissues inevitably means there are many places for movement to go wrong. Misalignment, stiffness or weakness in one or more muscles or joints may affect the way you move and even cause additional problems that worsen your health. One muscle often overlooked when treating pain is the piriformis muscle.
Ideal Spine uses a comprehensive system for patient care called Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP), which helps trained professionals diagnose and rectify common problems with this area of the body and beyond. Our CBP-trained chiropractors may be able to implement useful methods of strengthening the piriformis to minimize pain and hip dysfunction.
What muscles are connected, again?
Before you can understand how the piriformis muscle specifically may be affecting your hips, you should know some of the key players in the pelvic region and why they are important.
The piriformis muscle is a flat muscle that sits below the gluteal muscles in the buttocks. It is attached to the sacrum, or triangular bone in the lower back between your hipbones. The primary goals of the piriformis muscle are to stabilize the hip joint, aid in balance, and help rotate thighs and hips laterally to prevent internal rotation.
The piriformis ties in closely with the sacroiliac (SI) joint, which connects the hip bones to the sacrum and absorbs shock from body movement. Dysfunction in the SI joint usually causes lower back pain, limited mobility, and misalignment.
How piriformis muscles can affect your hips
Because the piriformis is critical in supporting the SI joint, which is important for movement and body stability as a whole, it should be activated and healthily stretched. Tightness in the piriformis is often a concern, but it can also be too loose and weak, leading to hip dysfunction.
Tightness or fatigue in the piriformis may cause lower back pain, stiffness and sciatica in the form of piriformis syndrome, in which pain shoots down the leg due to nerve compression. This is largely due to hypomobility (limited mobility) of the SI joint.
If the muscle is too weak, though, it may also cause problems with the hips and back. Piriformis weakness may cause hypermobility, or instability. Activated muscles are needed to stabilize the SI joints and the spine properly.
It is very common for one side of the piriformis muscle to be too tight while the other is overstretched and weak. Finding a balance, strengthening the piriformis muscle, and realigning an instable SI joint is necessary to minimize pain and prevent mobility problems.
Using a chiropractic solution
A chiropractor is well-poised to offer solutions to people suffering from SI joint dysfunction, low back pain and immobility caused by problems with the piriformis. Here are some of the techniques your chiropractor may use to alleviate pressure and strengthen your muscle:
- Strengthening exercises: To strengthen a weak piriformis muscle, your chiropractor may have you do guided exercises such as hip bridges or leg extensions. These may require some contorting and practice since the muscle is not always easy to activate.
- Stretching: If you also have a tight piriformis or have recently activated the muscle a lot, your chiropractor may help you find some stretches to do in the office and at home that may elongate the muscle and improve mobility.
- Spinal manipulations: When piriformis muscles have been too tight or too weak for a long time, they have probably done some temporary damage to the nearby SI joints and spinal vertebrae. Through manipulations of the joints and spine, your chiropractor may be able to get your body back into alignment, so the muscles can do what they are designed to do without the extra tightening or weakening.
Ideal Spine helps chiropractors learn effective techniques to treat patients with musculoskeletal pain and immobility. If you are experiencing hip dysfunction, visit a CBP-trained professional to receive a diagnosis and treatment plan to address your pain.
Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See www.CBPpatient.com for providers in your area.