The Piriformis muscle is the muscle I check for trigger points most often in my clients. The reason I check this muscle is because it can cause so many issues such as lower back pain, leg tingling and numbness.
The piriformis muscle is small but powerful
Let me explain in three steps: 1) where this muscle is located, 2) what this muscle does, and 3) why this muscle is so important to have checked for trigger points.
- The piriformis is one of six small muscles which lie deep to the gluteus maximus. It connects to the anterior (front) side of the sacrum and the superior (top) aspect of the greater trochanter (projection of bone) of the femur (hip bone).
- The piriformis muscle is one of six that laterally rotate the hip. These muscles are used to turn the foot away from the body.
- Of the six rotator muscles the piriformis is the muscle which the sciatic nerve passes under and in a number of cases passes through. If the piriformis muscle becomes tight it can pinch the sciatic nerve which is the largest nerve in the body. The branches of the sciatic nerve supply the muscles of the hip, many of the thigh and all the lower leg and foot muscles.
Trigger points can make the piriformis muscle tight and thus cause pinching of the sciatic nerve. When trigger points are found in the piriformis and released the muscle relaxes and the pressure on the sciatic nerve is relieved.
Having the piriformis checked for trigger points (therapist simply applies pressure to the muscle looking for tenderness) is a good idea for continued health. Once tenderness is located, the therapist feels to locate the actual trigger point. A simple procedure of holding pressure on the point releases it. The muscle can relax and sciatic nerve in most cases is no longer pinched.