A common complaint after having a baby is tight hips and low back pain. During the end of your pregnancy and after birth a lot of women experience tightness in their piriformis muscle. Your piriformis muscle sits underneath your glutes in the buttock region and on top of your static nerve. When this muscle becomes very tight it can compress the static nerve, causing back pain or numbness down the leg. This is called piriformis syndrome.
Piriformis syndrome during pregnancy is caused by a shift in your pelvis. When you are pregnant and breastfeeding your body releases a chemical called relaxin, which will relax your ligaments – mainly around your pelvis. This will cause your pelvis to shift and expand, which in turn will cause the piriformis muscle to be stretched and tightened. Piriformis syndrome during pregnancy can also be caused by a change in your posture.
There are a few ways to treat piriformis syndrome yourself by working on releasing the tightness in your piriformis muscle.
Foam Roller Release For Tight Hips
• Sit on the foam roller with your hands on the floor behind you supporting your weight
• Cross your left ankle over your right knee and lean your weight over to your left side
• Slowly roll around your buttocks region until you find a tender spot
• Once you have found the tender area, slowly roll forward and back, side to side, and in a circular motion to release. You may have more than one tender/tight spot so continue to move around if necessary.
• Continue for 1-5 minutes and repeat on other leg
Tight Hips Ball Release
• Using a lacrosse ball or something similar sit on a surface with the ball underneath your left butt cheek
• Slowly roll around to find tight and tender areas
• Once you have found a tender area place a bearable amount of weight on the spot, eventually making small movements to release
• Continue for 30 seconds – 1 minute on each tender area, repeating on the other side
Ankle Over Knee Stretch
• Lay on your back with your legs again the wall at a 90-degree angle
• Cross your left ankle over your right thigh just above the knee (make sure your ankle stays straight)
• Slide closer to the wall for more of a stretch and further away for less. Making sure your bum stays on the floor.
• Gently press on the inside of your left knee to encourage it further away and intensify the stretch
• Hold for 30 seconds – 2 minutes and repeat on the other side
These release exercises can be completed daily. Ideally at least 2-3 times a week.
Another great way to get an even deeper release would be massage and acupuncture.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim Gladfelter, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Women's Health Physical Therapy Specialist at PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness
Kim Gladfelter is a physical therapist, Pilates instructor, educator, author, and co-founder of PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness. She is known as a keen, well-rounded expert of healing through movement and women’s health specialist in the Silicon Valley area.
Kim has helped men and women of all ages to stay active and feel their best. She also writes about managing pain in her health columns, blogs and the local Los Altos Town Crier newspaper as well as reaches out to the local community, support groups, schools, libraries, and sports centers to advise and educate on body awareness and therapeutic exercise.