You don’t need a piriformis stretch.
Why this matters:
One of the first lines of defense most sciatica programs implement is the piriformis stretch (aka the pigeon stretch). That’s when you have your (affected) side shin parallel with the floor, as you bring your chest forward, and your other leg trailing behind you. Unfortunately, not everyone’s piriformis is tight.
What’s tight piriformis? The piriformis is designed to externally rotate your hip when it is straight (think foot out when standing), and internally rotate when your hip is flexed (think knee turning in when sitting). So if you are unable to cross your leg over the other, your piriformis may be tight.
An issue with the piriformis muscle also would result in pain produced in the buttock (with possible radiation down the leg) when sitting, due to the sheer force of weight on your butt/piriformis.
Action steps:If you have: pain in your buttock (with some radiating symptoms down your leg) when sitting, or it’s hard to turn your leg/hip in… Then you may be dealing with a shortened piriformis muscle. This mobilization can help (I usually recommend 10-15 pulses on the affected side). If you don’t have any of the following, then the mobilization may be less helpful, and strengthening the piriformis and hip may be the better answer. (stay tuned for more tomorrow).