The piriformis is a relatively small but strong muscle in the buttocks that, when too tight, can cause lower back pain, SIJ (sacroiliac joint) issues, and sciatica type symptoms.
It’s one of the ‘high achieving’ muscles in that area of the body, and when the other gluteal muscles aren’t doing their job very well, it tends to over-compensate and take over.
So if it feels like you have tight butt/lower back muscles, and yet your glutes and your lower back aren’t actually strong or stable – try stretching out the piriformis before doing your training.
This quick little stretch will relax the muscle enough (through a process called down-regulation) that the weaker muscles (which need to work!) can start to activate properly.
1 – take a relaxing breath first
2 – flex the foot that is crossed over at the front in order to protect the knee (locks the patella into place)
3 – keep the head relaxed on the floor as you do the stretch
4 – hold for about 30 seconds on each side
5 – if one side is significantly tighter, stretch that side twice compared to once on the looser side
The rest of the butt muscles will work more effectively once this little one is toned right down – so remember to stretch it first.
Follow it up with a gluteus maximus exercise like this one here.