Piriformis syndrome is literally a pain in the butt. The sciatic nerve runs underneath the piriformis muscle. When it gets tight and irritated, it often presses on the sciatic nerve causing symptoms of sciatica. These stretches and exercises should help with piriformis syndrome.
To start off, I am going to show you some modified stretches in a chair. These are better if done on the ground, but sometimes, you don’t have an area to lie down or maybe it is too hard or painful to lie on the ground. Seated in the chair, take the leg of the side you want to stretch, and cross it over the other leg just above the knee. This will look like a figure 4 if you are looking down at your legs. You might feel the stretch already, but if you don’t, keeping your back straight, bend forward at your hips. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times. Now is the opposite knee to chest stretch. In the same starting position, now take your opposite hand, and pull your knee up and across towards the opposite shoulder. If you are very flexible, you can hug your knee. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times.
The rest of the stretches and exercises are on the ground. The first two are like the ones in the chair except your back is on the ground. Cross the leg that is hurting over into a figure 4 position. Pull the good leg up towards your chest by grabbing underneath the knee. You can use a belt or leash to help pull the leg up if your hips are not very flexible. Next, you will keep the figure 4, Grab the knee on the same side of the pain with your opposite hand, and pull it up and across your body to the opposite shoulder. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and perform 3 times.
Now you will do a clamshell exercise. Still lying on your side, bend both knees slightly forward. Try to keep your hips perpendicular to the ground with the top hip towards the ceiling. Slowly lift the top leg up and out, like a clamshell opening up, and then slowly back down. Then you are going to lie on your side with the side you want to strength on the ground. Try to get your body in a straight line, and place your elbow on the ground just below your shoulder. Come up into a side plank. Hold it for 15-20 seconds, and work your way up to a minute. If this is too hard, you can start the side plank on your knees.
Finally, you will roll over onto your stomach. Try to keep your hips down on the ground, and bend your lower leg up at your knee so your foot is towards the ceiling. Slowly lift your leg up to the ceiling. You don’t have to go high because you don’t want to roll your body to the side when lifting. Start off with 10 of these, and work your way up to 20-25.