What does piriformis mean?
- The Latin name for the piriformis muscle is musculus piriformis.
- Piriformis is translated as “pear shaped” muscle.
- The word piriformis comes from the Latin words pirum meaning “pear” and forma meaning “form or shape.”
Where does the piriformis muscle attach?
- The muscle attaches onto the anterior sacrum which is on the inside of the pelvic bowl.
- The other end of the muscle attaches to the very top of the femur, which is called the greater trochanter.
What are the actions of the piriformis muscle?
This muscle externally rotates the femur and assists in abduction of the femur at the hip joint. Although we don’t abduct our leg often in a way that activates this muscle, one example of this action occurs in single-legged balancing postures when the piriformis helps stabilize the pelvis.
Postures where this muscle contracts
Postures where this muscle is lengthened
Common problems and additional information
Among muscles, the piriformis muscle is especially popular. I wrote an article on it titled: Piriformis – A Real Pain in the… some time ago. It’s also mentioned in two other articles: one on sit bone pain and the other discussing the gluteal and psoas relationship. Let’s give it the attention it deserves right here though. The muscle is a lightning rod. Anytime anyone has pain in their buttocks it must be the the piriformis, right? It could be, but it’s not necessarily the source of the pain. There are plenty of other causes of pain in the buttocks as outlined in the articles I linked to above.
Piriformis syndrome is probably one of the most popular reasons that everyone has heard of the piriformis muscle. It’s a syndrome which seems to live under the umbrella of sciatica. While a tight piriformis compressing the sciatic nerve is part of the description of this syndrome, it’s actually more specific than that. In fact, one of the more common causes is repetitive contraction of the muscle. Sorry runners, you’re more likely to end up with piriformis syndrome. If you have a tight one and want to stretch it out, great, just don’t over do it. While stretching it can help, too much stretching can inflame it more! Although there are multiple postures that stretch this muscle, I usually recommend pigeon and its variations for this purpose.