Bruce, Kevin + A Pandemic Thanksgiving, and Unrelated: The Piriformis
Updated: May 12, 2021
Hello friends! I hope you were able to enjoy Thanksgiving this year, despite it all. I will say this was one of my most memorable Thanksgivings for many reasons: The Pandemic, my special Kate-approved menu, Bruce (the Turkey that I did not eat), Kevin (see below), and Ruxin, my perfect labradoodle neighbor pup. (See previous posts to learn more about Ruxin!)
Now I have a story for you: one early morning last week, around 3:00 am, I awoke to noises from the living room/kitchen, which was spooky, it sounded like someone was in my apartment! After the noises stopped, and a long while after, I went out to see if it was something or if I was going crazy. Nothing . . . ! The next night, again around 3 am, I woke up to use the washroom. On my walk back to my bedroom, I noticed the utility closet door open, which was odd, but who knows, maybe I forgot to close it? When I got up at 8 am and turned on the bathroom light, I saw animal footprints. I kid you not. And water splashed all over. I took photos, emailed the landlord and someone was over shortly. It turns out a squirrel got into our apartment from a hole in our ceiling in the utility closet. I guess squirrels love water, so he had a pool party in the toilet. I am serious. We named him Kevin. The exterminator, Bob, patched the hole in the ceiling and, while we have heard scarring in the attic (story for another day), we have not had any more pool party invasions from Kevin 🐿️
Now, something completely unrelated but much more relevant to this blog: the piriformis! This muscle is responsible for abduction (leg moving away from the midline) as well as hip and joint rotation.
The piriformis originates on the internal side of the sacrum (inside of your pelvis but posterior (back) of your body) and inserts at the superior border of your greater trochanter of the femur. This can be a very tight muscle because it contracts when your leg externally rotates and abducts and it is also a difficult muscle to reach as a massage therapist and yoga teacher. Unlike hamstrings and quads, there are only a few stretches and massage techniques I can think of to stretch and release it.
Also, notice (in the image above) how close it is to the sciatic nerve. Often, it is recommended to stretch and release the piriformis to relieve sciatic nerve pain. Below are a few suggested stretches/poses and one simple massage technique you can add to your routine should you have pain or tightness in this region. Enjoy!
Revolved Skandasana demo:
And for massage, use a foam roller! Turn slightly on the side of your glute. A foam roller is broad and flat, so it will not get quite as deep into your piriformis, but it is still very effective.