This month, Ashley Stafford, MoveWELL Coordinator at Align Wellness Studio, introduces a technique to release tension from your muscles to alleviate pain and allow your body to move and function properly.
The piriformis release is a movement that helps release the piriformis muscle that works within a group of muscles and fascia to connect the legs to the spine. These muscles are constantly working to hold your body upright and balance action from the legs through the pelvis into the spine, which can easily create tension and lead to strain and stress in your body, especially over time. It’s helpful to work a release movement into your exercise programme to relieve acute tension from muscles and fascia before you go about effectively stretching or strengthening them.
Some of the sensations you feel when practising this technique may be uncomfortable. Discomfort indicates that the release is necessary and effectively “dejunking” the muscles and fascia, says Ashley.
“We use the word ‘dejunking’ because when the muscles get bound up or there are knots that you can feel, it’s the result of dense bands of connective tissue that have trapped metabolic waste in your body. It’s like you haven’t taken out the trash in a long time,” she says. “By performing this release, you will start to break through the build-up.”
Step by Step:
To perform this move, you’ll need a small ball or a foam roller. Sit on the floor, knees bent. Keep one foot flat on the floor and cross the other ankle to rest on the opposite thigh close to the knee. Slowly raise your hips a little and find the piriformis muscle which runs from the top of your upper leg bone to the back of your pelvis.
“Basically, you’re finding the back corner of your bum,” says Ashley.
Place the ball or foam roller here and slowly lower your weight on to it. You’ll know you have the right spot if it feels very tender. Allow yourself to gradually sink in deeper and take note of the sensations you feel. Hold steady against the prop for at least 45 seconds and up to five minutes, or until you feel the sensations fade away.
An alternate option is to lie with your back flat on the floor, feet pulled in to butterfly position. Place the prop underneath your outer hip, finding that tender sensation along the piriformis muscle. Lean your weight onto the ball to deepen the pressure of the prop into the muscle. The weight of your body against the ball works into the fascia to release the metabolic waste build-up in the muscle.
Remember to hydrate in order to effectively flush out the waste that was released and continue to rehydrate the cells and tissues that have new space and freedom. The better hydrated your tissues, the more effective the releases, and the better you will function in general.