This is a wonderful yoga stretch for the piriformis muscle and all the hip muscles. It is a unique approach because it is almost completely passive. You don’t have to do anything but lie there and wait for as long as you would like (spending 10 minutes in this position can be a freeing experience). Because it is so passive, it can also be meditative. Take this opportunity to work on your deep breathing and look for room to intensify the stretch further.
Please note the person demonstrating the stretch is a yoga instructor and extremely flexible. Your version of this stretch will look quite different. You may want to start further away from the wall to decrease the intensity of the stretch. Only bend the leg on the wall when you feel you are ready to increase the intensity.
Guidelines for performing the stretches:
- Check with a health care professional before you attempt these exercises to ensure that it is safe for you. It is especially important to rule out any disc problems before you do this exercise.
- Do the exercises slowly and gently. Failing to follow the instructions or consult with a health care professional could cause your symptoms to worsen.
- Try to breathe slowly and keep your body relaxed. Do not tense up or hold your breath as this will invite muscle spasm.
- You should feel a gentle stretching sensation, but you should not feel any pain during the exercises. If you do feel pain, decrease the range of movement by stopping before you get to the point of pain. Continue the exercise within the pain free range.
- Pay attention to the position of the lower back. As the instructor explains, the back should be straight, not bent. Bending at the lower back is cheating and does not stretch the piriformis muscle. Also, if you are feeling leg pain or tingling because of true sciatica or sciatica due to a disc problem, you may cause more damage to the disc if you perform this exercise incorrectly.
- If you cannot find a comfortable, pain free way to do these exercises, discontinue immediately and seek the advice of a health care professional.
- Do the exercises in a set of 3 for a minimum of 3 times a day for best results.
- This stretch works best if you hold it for 5 minutes, but you can hold the stretch for a minimum of 15 seconds.