September 8, 2011

Muscle Imbalance - The Secret Source Of Piriformis Pain and Sciatica Back Pain

Muscle Imbalance - The Secret Source Of Piriformis Pain and Sciatica Back Pain

I have a question for you… Did any of the healthcare providers you went to in the past or are visiting now to help you deal with your piriformis pain check you for muscle imbalances? …My crystal ball here is telling me the answer is “No. What’s a muscle imbalance anyway? Nobody ever mentioned anything like that.” And therein lies both the problem and the solution you’re looking for. Let us look a little deeper into this condition…

As I discussed in my article Piriformis Pain and Piriformis Muscle Syndrome: Get The Facts Behind the Suffering, Piriformis Muscle Syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle is displaced from its proper position such that it starts exerting excessive pressure on the sciatic nerve. The Sciatic Nerve is the largest nerve in the body and it is made up of nerves branching out from several vertebrae of the spine bundled together, and then descends down the back of the thigh.   This happens various ways, commonly through the muscle being overstressed and becoming inflamed and this inflammation state causes the pressure. The muscle might even be physically shifted into a unhealthy position as well for one reason or the other. The piriformis muscle is responsible for moving your leg so your feet point outward, i.e. rotating your thigh at the hip, so it is near the sciatic nerve. The pressure involved in piriformis muscle syndrome irritates the nerve and leads to inflammation in the area, giving rise to piriformis pain.

Obviously the piriformis muscle is not normally in a state where it inflames the sciatic nerve. So the real question we should be asking is, how did this situation come about? What created your piriformis muscle syndrome? This is where muscle imbalances come into the picture…

What In The World IS a Muscle Imbalance?
A muscle imbalance is when one muscle overpowers the opposing muscle or when there is a difference in flexibility of opposing muscles; or a combination of both strength and flexibility differences.

When your muscles are out of balance with each other they pull your bones and joints out of their correct position and this puts your other muscles, bones and joints under constant stress and uneven pressure... The body works as a whole thus muscle imbalances in one area can start a chain of reactions that disturbs the tissues in that body area - or even in another area seemingly nowhere near the actual muscle imbalance.

For example, the proper position of your hips and curvature of your spine are determined by numerous muscles and whether they are balanced with each other or not... There are over 640 muscles in the human body and everything we do affects them, from sitting too much to playing our favorite sports.  The lower body is particularly susceptible.

Almost All Cases Of Sciatica Back Pain Have Muscle Imbalances As The Main Cause Of The Pressure Being Placed On The Sciatic Nerve 
Specifically, piriformis pain is the most common manifestation of this distortion in the natural structural alignment of the body in the region of the sciatic nerve. Muscle Imbalance develop either through a traumatic event, or through a long process of lifestyle choices (habits of movement or inactivity), or a combination of both. For many people it's a gradual development of the muscle imbalance in your hip due to your everyday activities and the rise of the awful symptoms as a result. Over time that muscle gets tight from the positions you put yourself in plus it weakens from lack of use.

Let me give you some examples of what I mean:
1. If you sit on the edge of your chair with your legs apart and your feet pointing outward then you're keeping your piriformis muscle in a shortened position - This makes it tighten up gradually and if you do that all the time then it also weakens from lack of use. Voila: muscle imbalance!

2. On the other side of the spectrum, runners and bikers aren't sedentary but they often fail to maintain a strength vs. stretch balance in their workouts. This causes muscle imbalance because their piriformis muscle shortens and gets tight as it becomes stronger from the exercise, overpowering other muscles in the hip region. This leads - you guessed it - to an irritated sciatic nerve creating piriformis pain.

Many of us are sedentary or tend to be if we don't watch ourselves, Many of us are/have become exercise fanatics - and many of us are somewhere in between at any given time. Whether you're a runner or a keyboard athlete :-)  or neither, I'll bet you have muscle imbalances that are causing your piriformis pain too.

So... How DO You Get Rid Of Your Piriformis Pain? 
Since muscle imbalances are usually the culprit start by working on correcting any muscle imbalance you have, and you should start feeling pain relief immediately.... You can start with regular practice of a simple focused piriformis stretch for a few weeks such as the one you can watch and follow along with in my article, One Of The Best Piriformis Stretches Ever For Relieving Piriformis Pain.

Will learning one new stretch be enough? It very well may be. However depending on how severe your condition you may need to do more. For example don't sit in the way described above; do exercises/sports  like tennis, rollerblading, basketball, etc that involve a wide range of motion in your hips. More directly, corrective exercises tailored to your specific situation to correct your muscle imbalances are likely necessary.

Learn as much as you can about your condition, so that you can ask the tough questions to your healthcare providers and get the best care possible.... But realize that your well-meaning local pain specialist may not have gotten any education on sciatica or sub-forms of it like piriformis muscle syndrome. This is one of those cases that emphasizes the fact that your own health is always ultimately in your own hands.

And in that spirit of knowing the facts and helping your own self, I sincerely suggest and recommend you get a copy of the Free book, The 7-Day Back Pain Cure: How Thousands of People Got Relief Without Doctors, Drugs or Surgery written by Jesse Cannone CPT, CPRS. He's been a featured guest on NBC and co-founded The Healthy Back Institute. In it he covers everything from all the true causes of sciatica back pain, to how to do accurate self-diagnosis, to a whole range of easy-to-do treatment methods that you tailor to your personal needs. The "secrets", the expert knowledge in this book has allowed literally tens of thousands of people over the years to cure themselves of every back pain and sciatica condition especially piriformis pain. And did I mention it's for FREE? 

You can request your free copy right here.

Stay healthy my friends,
Jevaughn Brown

Get The 7-Day Back Pain Cure Here

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