In short, Piriformis Syndrome itself is characterised by a combination of symptoms including pain in the lateral hip/buttock region (1). This is caused by irritation or compression of the Static nerve from the piriformis muscle, but should not be confused with Sciatica!

Subjective and objective testing is key and will help determine if the sciatic nerve is irritated due to compression by the Piriformis muscle. 

Anatomy of the Piriformis

It is a pear-shaped muscle located deep in the lateral portion of the hip. In Latin it translates to pirium, meaning pear (2), which makes complete sense since this muscle is pear-shaped! 

It is a funny little muscle with a number of functions, which are dictated by the position of the femur. This is due to its place of origin and insertion: the front surface of the sacrum, and inserts onto the greater trochanter of the femur. It’s not satisfied with just one job but four! 

  1. External / Lateral rotation of the thigh at the hip joint – when the hip joint and femur are in a neutral position, extended or  in a flexed position that is less than 60 degrees 
  2. Internal/Medial rotator of the thigh at the hip joint – this will occur when the hip joint is flexed further than 60 degrees 
  3. Abduction of the hip joint – can only happen when the hip is in flexion 
  4. Stabilisation of the hip joint! Simple as that 

Fun fact: Internal rotation of the hip is super important at end-of-range squats. If you are not able to engage internal rotation, you risk overloading the knees and not being to keep your feet turned out.

The piriformis is often blamed for a lot of issues around the hip. Remember though, there are 11 muscles in total that are involved in the external rotation of the hip. The piriformis is just one of them and also relatively tiny compared to some of the others. 

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Susan Findlay
Susan Findlay

My name is Susan Findlay and like most of the people I teach, I came to sports massage & remedial soft tissue therapy by way of a journey.

My journey began with classical dance and gymnastics back in my home country, Canada. When your body is the tool that you work with, you learn to take notice of it and it was this interest in the human body that led me to retrain as a nurse.

After working for the NHS, I made the choice to be my own boss. Still in the health and fitness field, I worked with GPs and health centres, setting up different schemes for a range of clientele. Holding 20+ classes a week and running multiple health programmes, I discovered a love of teaching and enjoyed the rewards of helping clients reach their goals.

I retrained in 1996 and gained a Sport Massage and a Remedial Soft Tissue Therapy qualification that helped me to bring all my skills together. This eventually lead me into teaching and writing a book.  As life would have it my focus evolved into becoming a specialist in oncology massage, long before it was trendy and not considered a contraindication.  I now teach a program nationally that offers certification for therapists to offer a much needed and appreciated therapy.  

Although I am the director (and senior lecturer) of NLSSM, I have never given up the practical side of the profession and I still run my own clinic in both North London & Wales. 

Keeping up with the real world helps to keep me inspired and that helps to make me a better teacher.

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