A lot of times when clients come to me with low back pain, the culprit ends up being their glute muscles. And specifically a muscle in the glutes called the piriformis.
Our glute muscles are some of the strongest muscles in our body, but they can also be some of the laziest. Unless you're an avid runner, bicyclist, or professional athlete, chances are your glute muscles are not super developed. Our common sedentary lifestyle of sitting at a desk or in a car or on the couch most of the time, doesn't help much either. This is a real problem because our glutes help us to stay upright when we stand up, as well as propel us forward when we want to walk. Our glute muscles (your butt muscles, in case you were wondering), are part of the muscles that make up our core.
The piriformis muscle is the top most muscle of the glute muscles that move the hips externally. It helps to stabilize the hip joint. It starts at the base of your tailbone and attaches at the top of your hip bone. (See the pic above.) The piriformis is the muscle often associated with sciatic nerve pain. In some people the sciatic nerve is split, and part of it runs deep to the piriformis. When the piriformis and it's neighboring muscles get tight, they can compress the nerve, causing pain, numbness, or weakness.
So what about low back pain? Many, many times I have found that when clients complain of low back pain, their piriformis muscle or muscles (sometimes it's both sides) are very tight. This causes other muscles to tighten up to try and compensate, including the muscles of the
low back. Usually, relaxing the piriformis and other glute muscles can help the low back muscles to relax as well. And of course relaxing the glute muscles can also help the quads and hamstrings to relax also. So if you suffer from tight hamstrings or low back pain, or sciatic nerve issues, it could all be caused by a literal pain in the butt!
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