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Talking about the advanced piriformis exercise, I think what most anatomists don't get is that the medial attachment of p. extends from the top to the bottom of the midline of the sacrum, so spanning 2+ inches, and can be considered one side of a triangle; the greater trochanter attachment, by comparison, can be considered a 'point', in thinking about this in terms of complex, 3D movement. To get the leg into the starting position requires both flexion and external rotation of the femur in the hip joint, I believe. What makes the real difference between this p. exercise and all others is that the sacrum is moved ~90 degrees (if you can do it completely, as in lie on your front foot), in comparison to the p. exercises where the femur is moved across the body to the opposite shoulder, because in this latter movement, the 'point' attachment pulls more or less evenly on the whole muscle. In the advanced movement, in comparison, the upper fibres of p. are stretched more than the lower fibres (because WRT to the greater trochanter point, the top part of the sacrum moves so much further than the bottom part in the exercise's movement), so that the shortening that external rotation necessitates in the first instance is completely overcome by the whole movement, and the movement becomes a serious stretch (as everyone who has tried the movement knows!). And (this is a separate important part) anyone with p. syndrome has the muscle pierced by one or more nerves—and it is this differential stretching effect between the upper fibres and the lower fibres that provides the tangible relief to this problem, I believe. Of course, this is a massive simplification and does not take any possible fascial adhesions into account, but it does provide a new way of considering from which process the indisputable therapeutic effects arise. And for all exercises requiring movement of the pelvis WRT the femurs (sitting for meditation, sitting cross legged, tailor pose) where hamstring and adductor tension are not a major limitation to moving the pelvis (because the knees are bent), any resistance to movement of the pelvis is compensated by lumbar flexion. This is because p. is limiting the pelvis movement through the identical mechanism (upper fibres will not allow anterior pelvis tilt. I see this on every retreat: beginners who simply can't sit upright. And this effect is compounded by tight hamstrings and adductors when sitting in the starting position of the pancake and the pike—and we see this in all the beginner's photographs posted here—again (though with additional limiting factors) they cannot sit upright. I feel that sieging p. and experiencing pelvic movement (as Olivia has been suggesting for years) is a fundamental part of the acquisition of pike and pancake, through the experience of the movement of the pelvis in its least restricted position. Once this has been felt, the same movement can be more easily acquired in the more difficult movements.
Hi, it's my first post here but over the last week I've been in touch with Kit. We now decided that it makes sense to share this with other people. I'm an F1 student on GB and I'm additionally a swimming student. Some general info on myself: > 26yo, 184cm x 72kg, very low bf, always been exposed to sports since my youth. Started out my sport career as a cyclist. Competed 7 years until my 18. > In 2002, I started weight training to complement cycling. This had a huge impact on my body structure, moved from ~180cm x 52kg to 183cm x 65kg. After a surgery (orchidopexie, after which I have been advised to use a compression jock/supporter for training and always did so since then) I switched my attention to strength sports. Started training for PLing and competed at Nationals until early 2010 with good results. >This May, following suggestions from my physician, I started to get myself into swimming and to learn the crawl. Moved from not being able to float to swim with decent technique for 45-50’ in 2 months. The first thing I noticed is that I was entirely lacking mobility in my body. I never paid attention to it before, never. Figured out gymnastics could help me in that and I got started with some basic calisthenics routine with the help of a sport scientist friend of mine. Since then, I trained regularly in both swimming and calisthenics. At work, I changed my working position from sitting 10-12h per day to a standing working position, with short intervening sitting pauses. Now, after contacting Kit I purchased the book and the DVD update. I immediately started to work on limbering my lower body. I introduced work for piriformis as Kit suggested and attempted glute activation exercise as well as other exercises for lower and middle back flexibility. Here I report some questions/facts: 1) Harder version of the piriformis stretch (floor piriformis exercise): I can not even fold myself in the front leg. Next steps are out of reach for me now. What I mean is that I do not even manage to lower myself onto the front leg. I feel substantial tension in a region (deep into the mid gluteus, same on both sides) that I recently injured by doing windmills. In contrast, the seated version works fine and I am learning how to feel it properly. However, when I try to arch my lower back in that stretch, I can not even reach a straight line. 2) The hamstring stretch: by the time I start sliding my foot in front from the starting position, I feel tremendous tension in my glutes and I cannot proceed. Actually, over the last 2 weeks I do feel that, even if I just bend to the ground to collect an object. I also feel my lower back very compact, stiff, I hate this feeling! I tried out the modified version of the pike (in the same video), where you use the same principle of sliding the foot to contract the quad and hence inhibit hamstring contraction. If I do that, I can reach a position that I can forget if I just perform the stretch in the standard way . 3) Glute activation. While I was doing the exercise (video is on YT, using a swiss ball), I tried to understand the degree of contraction of my hamstrings and glutes. Hamstrings were fully contracted. Not so much was going on in my glutes. I tucked the tail before and during, but still not managed to have them working properly. 4) I keep going with the lower back stretch. I realized that when I straightened my legs, I was not perpendicular to the floor. If I try to do so, by leaning forward, I feel a tremendous stretch in the calves and this is very strong, yet very painful. My calves are deactivated, totally. I completely lack muscle mass in there, and it has always been like this although I now feel that this is becoming a major problem for the rest of my posterior chain as well. I'd like to explore how to get out of this. Should I start making some video so that you understand the whole picture to a greater extent? Thanks to anyone who will have the time to go through this, Federico