Piriformis Syndrome Exercises to Keep You Running

One of the most annoying injuries to deal with as a runner is piriformis syndrome. And for the first time in almost 20 years of running, I've had to deal with this

One of the most annoying injuries to deal with as a runner is piriformis syndrome. And for the first time in almost 20 years of running, I've had to deal with this, this last year. I'm Jesse Funk and on today's episode of Runner’s High, I'm going to show you the tools, techniques, and exercises I use to continue running while dealing with piriformis syndrome.

Dealing with piriformis issues can be a real pain to solve. We don't do a lot of lateral movements and the piriformis is involved in those lateral movements. So, as a runner, you're just thinking about going forward. But when one of those things that go side to side kind of gets outline, it can be a bit difficult to figure out what's going on.

Me personally as a triathlete now, since I do all three sports, my coach and, we've isolated the issue as being bike related. And the problems stemming from the pedal setup I have with my shoes, my foot was inverted a little bit too much the way there that clip in. So, I had to fix that. So, if you do triathlon and you have those three sports, you might want to check out first, your bike setup as a possible issue.

If not, this is where a good professional comes in handy to help figure out what's causing those issues. But let's get on to what I actually use and the kind of things that I use to deal with my piriformis syndrome.

My go-to tools for piriformis syndrome is going to be similar to almost every soft tissue injury I have. The tools themselves vary a little bit between injuries depending on what I'm dealing with. But the overall thought and technique remains the same. So, I'm always going for some kind of massage tool. In this case, I'm using one of these lacrosse balls. I use it because we're trying to get through all that glute tissue in the piriformis.

I feel like for me the lacrosse ball does a little bit better job than my foam roller or my massage stick. So, that's kind of the go-to for that for me, sit on it, roll around, that's the basic idea. If you go to a massage therapist, they're great too. But these are much less expensive, you can get a pair for like 10 bucks on Amazon.

So, when pain is at its highest, it's kind of an acute injury or maybe it hurts to walk around, my other kind of go-to item and this is to take the edge off is kinesiology tape. This is KT tape. There are other brands. As far as I'm aware, all of these kinds of brains work similarly, so you don't actually have to be stuck on KT tape. Read reviews obviously, if a particular company isn't very good, that will show up over time as users use their product.

The last thing and this is the biggest thing for me. Anytime I have any kind of ache and pain, I’ve shared this in other videos, so subscribe to the channel, go check those out here in a minute. But it's getting these elastic exercise bands. This is from a company called Thera band. But there are lots of different companies that make these bands. It's going to be the key to kind of actually doing the work to rehab the muscle to get us back into shape so we can continue running without pain.

Before I go on to demo kind of the exercise and the stretches that I do, I do want to remind you, I'm not a licensed physician, nor am I a licensed physical therapist. This is just my personal experience and what I've used this past year, dealing with this particular issue. If you want to pick up any of those tools, I will have links down in the description, where you pick those up on Amazon.

Full disclosure, they are affiliate links, so I get a very small percentage of your purchase if you choose to purchase those things. But if you just want to go search for them, that works too, just trying to make it a win-win situation.

So, let's get on to the demos. There are actually three things I want to demo for you today. And I'll show you kind of in order of importance, at least to me. My first go-to exercise here and this is probably the most important to me is doing an actual exercise and that is hip abduction with an exercise band like I showed you before that blue exercise band I used for a lot of things.

Once you get your exercise band, you figure out kind of where you are in terms of which color, they're all varying strengths, tie in a loop and then put it on their leg of some kind of sturdy furniture, here our trusted couch in the sunroom that I'm sitting on all the time when I'm taking these videos.

So, I'm gonna stand up, my head will disappear, but I'll keep talking. So, what you're going to do is take the affected side say in the case, it's my left side here, going to put it through the band. Stand so that your feet are as parallel as you can get them, and then I like to hold on for extra support here to the couch. Your leg will come out to the side and then come back in.

So, it's pretty easy, nothing terribly complicated here. I like to do three sets of 10, or sometimes two sets of 10, depending on how much time I have. One thing that's very, very important is eccentric control. Which means as you come out, you feel the resistance clearly, but you don't want to just let your leg snap back.

When you go out, as you come back in, you want to control your leg all the way back in. That so that you have muscle control in both directions. And you're not having this whip like motion allowing the band to snap back into place.

My other two go-to exercises are actually stretches. This first one is the more important of the two and it's going to be the more targeting of the two stretches for that piriformis. I actually like to do this one in the pool because the water can kind of support you. But if you don't have a pool available, which is going to be most of the time, you actually need to lie down to do this one.

So, we're going to lie down all the way back. You take the affected side, say it's this left side, it goes over your other side, hands are going to go behind the hamstrings on your affected side, and then you pull back towards your face.

I’m a little contorted now because my microphone is under me and a little uncomfortable, but this is the idea here, this is how you stretch out this area back here where your piriformis is. Again, if you have a pool, use that. It's a whole lot more comfortable to do it in the pool than it is to do here on the floor and you are supported by water all around, you can actually get a little bit better stretch in my opinion.

This last stretch is actually just a classic hamstring stretch. So, I need to back up a little bit just so you can see. Again, assuming this left side is the affected side. You want to step out, raise your toes and then reach for your toes. What’s important to remember with this particular stretch is that we're not trying to touch our toes.

That's not the goal of what we're doing. The goal is to stretch our hamstring because our hamstring, here behind our leg goes all the way up in our glute. So, we're trying to get both the piriformis and the attaching muscles and surrounding muscles all stretched out and comfortable so that they're not affecting each other negatively.

So, those are my three go-to exercises for piriformis syndrome. Have you used other exercises that you think are useful? Share them with me, comment in the comments below. I know there are more ones out there. These are just the three that I've used. I hope you have good luck with the piriformis syndrome. Let me know how these work for you or how other ones have worked for you. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.

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