The Piriformis Muscle

Sometimes running can be a pain in the butt. Literally. There’s a small muscle located deep in the back of your hip called the piriformis, and when you run it can become tight. The piriformis is a stabilizing muscle that helps support your leg when you hit the ground. When the other muscles (such as your hamstrings) become fatigued….it tries to help push you forward. Unfortunately, the piriformis fatigues easily which can cause tightness and pain.


Stretching the piriformis can greatly reduce the pain improve mobility, allowing you to run more freely. While there are a number of stretches that can help, there is one that seems to be more effective than others:

  • Lie on your back, bend your hip and knee.

  • Grab your knee with the same sided hand and place your opposite hand on your shin.

  • With your top hand, pull your knee diagonally across your body towards your opposite shoulder.

  • When you feel the stretch in the back of your hip, pull gently with the hand on your shin so that your hip rotates.

  • Hold that stretch for 10 seconds and then release. Repeat the stretch 10 times.

  • This stretch can be done before and/or after running to help improve flexibility and reduce pain.


The above recommendations reflect some of the basics about this injury.  As always, seek medical advice should you be experiencing painful symptoms. 

Feel free to email us at: with questions or comments.

Keep moving!

Joe Simko, PT

Physical Therapist, Fit For Life Physical Therapy