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Old 05-20-11, 07:37 PM   #1
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Piriformis, anyone?

Got hit with a seriously painful muscle cramp last week, accompanied by some numbness on the side of the butt. It was diagnosed as most likely piriformis muscle tightness and irritation of the piriformis nerve. So I was just wondering, is this more a problem for us 50+ folks or a youngster's problem too? I'm 62.
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Old 05-21-11, 06:37 AM   #2
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I must have fallen asleep in pre-med.
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Old 05-21-11, 03:01 PM   #3
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I came across the piriformis while googling for some stretches. I have no idea what that muscle does but it sure is difficult to get to. I can't really imagine how it might be used in cycling. Are you certain that particular muscle didn't come into play during some sort of perverted act. Just checking. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/f...formis_str.htm
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Old 05-21-11, 06:08 PM   #4
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I have no idea what that muscle does but it sure is difficult to get to. I can't really imagine how it might be used in cycling. Are you certain that particular muscle didn't come into play during some sort of perverted act...
Perverted act? Me?? Okay, maybe that's not so far fetched after all.

I don't know what it is used for either but it is problematical enough that there is name for the problem: piriformis syndrome. A nerve runs through that area. In some people it runs under the muscle, in some it runs through it. If the muscle tightens up it can irritate the nerve. As I understand it there is no known correlation between the nerve's location and the tendency for someone to have a problem. However if you ever have a problem with it you will know it. I can feel the area tighten up some during biking, but now I work to keep it stretched out. I guess I've felt it before but never had it cramp like that.
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Old 05-21-11, 06:54 PM   #5
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Getting the doctors advice like you did is always where to start. Long and short of it is that Piriformis helps you move/rotate your hip.

And tightness there is usually across the board agewise, since most people don't know it's there or that it needs stretching till it hurts.

Its a deep muscle and not much lets you stretch it; the bent knee on knee stretch the website mentioned is probably the best for reaching into that muscle and Pigeon won't hurt but pigeon mostly gets into the IT band stretchwise and tightness in the glutes and hips may not let you get deep enough in Pigeon to really impact Piriformis. Balancing the Piriformis stretch with Pigeon is more about working all of the muscles involved in hip rotation so things stay balanced. Cyclists often have tight hips and getting into a stretching set or yoga class that involves hip openers can help avoid this kind of ouch as well as protecting your knees and lower back.
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Old 05-21-11, 06:56 PM   #6
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I'm 50 and I've noticed significant increasing tightness in the last few years. If I do a long ride or a hard spin class and don't stretch my piriformis afterward I feel it the next couple of days.

I started doing yoga on a regular basis this year and it has helped immensely. Some good stretches are thread the needle pose or pigeon pose.
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Old 05-21-11, 07:24 PM   #7
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I'm 50 and I've noticed significant increasing tightness in the last few years....
I started doing yoga on a regular basis this year and it has helped immensely.
Yeah, me too for both statements. I practiced yoga for some years, then didn't for a year when my gym stopped it. So I switched gyms and have now practiced yoga for a bit over a year. It does help, but I'm stiff anyway and always have been. Worse, I've also got genetic scoliosis of the lower back so it is a challenge. But it never hit me like this until last week. Industrial strength, i.e. prescription anti-inflammatory drugs like piroxicam helps too but you can't spend your entire life on them.
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Old 05-22-11, 05:59 AM   #8
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Foam Roller

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Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
Got hit with a seriously painful muscle cramp last week, accompanied by some numbness on the side of the butt. It was diagnosed as most likely piriformis muscle tightness and irritation of the piriformis nerve. So I was just wondering, is this more a problem for us 50+ folks or a youngster's problem too? I'm 62.
I had a quite painful case of piriformis a few months ago. It was on the right side, starting from the buttock and extending down the side of the leg. I always stretch before I ride, and was somewhat surprised when this pain occurred, and it being severe enough to prevent me from cycling.

I did some research online and after identifying it as piriformis, I found that a number of other sufferers had used a foam roller to great benefit. I acquired a foam roller at amazon.com, and sitting on the roller on the floor, and rolling myself over the right buttock area, I was amazed to find that I had a knotted muscle deep on the right side. The pain relief was fast and within a few days I was pain free. Another week later I was back on the bike, and have been fine since.

A few months after this event I was telling my physician about the piriformis, the roller, and the recovery. He didn't seem surprised, and was glad that I was better.

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Old 05-22-11, 04:12 PM   #9
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Over time as I've aged, (now 72) I've noticed various body parts no longer work as pain free or with the same dexterity as they used to. I've found that stretching exercises seem to help with remaining as pain free and as limber as possible for a man my age. My overall conclusion is that maintaining range of motion is crucial to maintaining quality of life in my older years. With this in mind, I find myself spending more time stretching. I ski in winter and cycle and hike in warmer months. I would say that seeking those things/people/attitudes/activities that induce/encourage movement are your friends.
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Old 05-23-11, 06:45 AM   #10
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Oh man, another syndrome. I'd better get over to the doctor to see if I have it

Seriously Jim, hope you can bike through it.
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Old 05-23-11, 07:22 AM   #11
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Old 05-23-11, 08:41 AM   #12
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Piriformis syndrome is where the sciatic nerve, which passes between the piriformis muscle, gets pinched and causes pain and maybe numbness. Stretching the area EASILY will help to relax the muscle and stop the pinching. Icing the area for no more than 30 minutes at a time with at least 40+ minutes off to allow it to warm up, may help, but the muscle is very deep and hard to get to, but it will help the other muscles in the area to relax. When you stretch (Hams, etc.) stretch in all directions, hold the stretch for 30 seconds, relax, then stretch for 45 seconds, relax, then hold for one minute. This helps teach the muscle to relax. After things start to relax and you feel better you'll need to start a strengthening program for the area, but continue with the stretching.

If you have a "Friend" (I.E. spouse you can con into this), have them do a deep tissue massage in the area to help the muscle to relax. You can also get a paper/styrofoam cup and fill it full of water then freeze it. Take the ice cup and have your friend massage the area for 20-30 minutes pushing as hard as they can, but not to where it hurts you. This gets massage and cold therapy to the area.

Now for the bad news, it may not be Piriformis syndrome, it may be a herniated disk, so if it doesn't go away, or you have a good medical insurance plan, go get an MRI. Try and find a good orthopedist that specializes in sports medicine. If you have a local junior college or university, contact their athletic training department and see who they use. A sports orthopedist will be more aggressive with your rehab and know that you cycle for exercise and that you're not the kind that just sits around.
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Old 05-23-11, 08:15 PM   #13
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Try and find a good orthopedist that specializes in sports medicine.
Good advice. It happens that I do have a good sports-medicine orthopedist. First thing I did when this hit was make an appointment with her, then book some PT time. She knows my back too, took pics and had some advice on when and if to do an MRI. Don't want to mess around here.
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