Hi, from my new morning running path. Unfortunately, I’ve had to scale back just a tad because of my tendency to develop piriformis syndrome. It’s not a big deal, but it’s about being mindful and making sound decisions.
Given my recurring battles with piriformis syndrome, I get questions around the common runner’s ailment a lot. But the truth is, it’s not always a runner-specific injury. Yes, it occurs most often, for me, when I ramp up training, when I tackle rocky terrain or when I hit the pavement too many days in a row. But there are a few other circumstances that have been known to set me off too. A few of them happen to be:
Flying or sitting on an airplane too long.
Driving long distances or sitting in a car too long.
Yoga: while great for the body, mind and soul, a rigorous class can set me off. That said, the right poses can also alleviate piriformis pain, so it’s all about balance and knowing how you feel.
Mat Pilates or any movements in which I’m on my hands and knees (as in a yogi’s cat-cow) and have to lift my leg in small movements above my hip.
Tracy Anderson: all of her leg work turns into piriformis pain for me. I try to avoid her videos at all cost.
Hiking: uneven terrain is one of the biggest catalysts, so obviously hiking (and trail running, at that) can ignite piriformis syndrome.
The good news about a minor issue like piriformis syndrome is that it doesn’t always require physical therapy. Yes, at it’s worst, I’ve gone to a physical therapist. But at the end of the day, nothing my therapist told me or any of the movements he equipped me with were any different than anything I could have Googled or figured out by myself at home.
For a few quick tricks on managing piriformis syndrome at home or on-the-go, look no further than these five do-it-yourself remedies.
1. Foam roll. But first, find the source of your piriformis pain. Is it your lower back? Your neck? For me, piriformis syndrome typically stems from my IT bands, that stretch of tendon that spans the sides of the legs. Roll out these bad boys, and the relief is unbelievable.
2. Yoga. Find yourself a restorative class or, if you don’t have enough time, just sit in pigeon pose for a bit. Another good idea is to simply ask a yoga teacher to help you find poses to relieve any lingering pain.
3. Cross-train. Incorporate different and complementary forms of exercise into your fitness routine. Kickboxing has been tremendous for me.
4. Stretch. I know, I know, I know. I am one of the worst offenders of this; I never stretch either before or after running. But I also feel it when I don’t. So, when I begin to feel tight, I listen to my body and at least attempt to touch my toes. I may not make it a priority, but I can at least appreciate what it does for me.
5. Sit on a tennis ball. I’m serious. Place a tennis ball beneath your hip and allow the flesh of your bum to conform to the round shape. As you do, breathe. Feel how, as it digs into your muscle, your hip, your leg, your back, your shoulders soften and relax.
We may have been “born to run,” but that doesn’t mean runners are invincible.
If all else fails, a massage or physical therapist is always a good idea. Just remember that if you really are in pain, don’t wait too long. The longer you wait, the worse the injury can get and the harder it will be to alleviate any discomfort and get back on the road.
What home remedies do you use to relieve any minor and common runner injuries?