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Piriformis Syndrome: A Literal Pain in the Butt

Posted Sep 12 2013 11:03am
First of all, thank you for the kind, supportive comments on my last post. Dropping from a race is never fun and certainly not something any of us set out to do. But, shit happens. I am 100% positive it was the right move and once I accepted that, I got over feeling sorry for myself pretty quickly.

On the car ride home from the race I was already furiously Googling to find out what my issue might be. After typing in my symptoms it didn't take long for me to land on Piriformis Syndrome, which the doctor confirmed for me this morning. The Piriformis muscle runs horizontally across the butt and the sciatic nerve can pass in front of it, behind it, or even through the muscle in about 10% of people.

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When the Piriformis muscle gets inflamed it can press on the sciatic nerve, which can cause pain to shoot down the back of the leg. All of this would explain the knot I felt in my butt during the race and the spiraling tightness moving from just below my butt down my hamstring. Piriformis Syndrome also explains why I was in so much pain just from driving in the car. While it can definitely be a running injury, Piriformis Syndrome can also be brought about by extended bouts of sitting (aka what I do every day at work and most of the weekends when I'm not running).

I still have no idea why the muscle got inflamed when it did. I didn't have a traumatic injury prior to Labor Day weekend when it started hurting nor did I tweak anything while running. The good thing is that I started stretching it as soon as I got home on Sunday, following some of the treatment exercises recommended online. Self-diagnosis is definitely something to be careful with, but in this case I just kept doing what felt good
  • Pigeon Pose has been great at relieving some of the tightness
  • A great video about neural flossing for Piriformis Syndrome can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFtUgS69rPk&feature=fvw
  • In addition, I bought this from Trigger Point. I have their foam roller and love it. Like the foam roller, this massage ball is no joke. I have been rolling it between the wall and my butt and it has relieved a lot of the tension.
  • I've also been doing many of these exercises (below)The Figure-4 Gluteal Stretch  and Standing Hamstring Stretch have been especially effective
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  • After two full days off, I ran four very slow miles on the treadmill on Wednesday. They felt good and I did ample stretching before and after. On Monday I will start PT again for what seems like the millionth time. But, I'm more than happy to go back if they can teach me a few new things and help make sure that I really kick this thing to the curb for good.

    The most annoying thing about Piriformis Syndrome has just been that sitting makes me feel very nervous. This is sort of a problem since my job requires me to sit at a desk all day. I've tried to make sure I'm sitting straight with my feet flat on the floor, but all I really want to do is this
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    Injuries totally suck, but thankfully I caught this one early. Also, if I'm going to have an injury, at least a butt injury is pretty funny. :)
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