by | Ask the Doctor

Q:  With the return of spring, I have begun running again and am noticing for the first time some pain in my buttock.  I think it is getting achy in the back of my thigh now too!  What is the problem?  Do I need to stop running?

A:  If you ever feel a pain in the hip toward the center of the buttocks or down the back of the leg, you may be suffering from piriformis syndrome—especially if you are a runner. The piriformis muscle runs from your sacrum, or mid-line base of the spine, to the outer hip bone. The muscle helps hip and leg rotation, balancing on one foot and support of the pelvic region.

Many runners are susceptible to piriformis syndrome, because the muscle is used repetitively and does not have the opportunity to recover. The tightening of the muscle worsens the situation. The muscle needs to relax, and increased blood flow has to supply added oxygen. Usually this happens because the muscle is working in a manner that is not as efficient as it should be.  It has a dysfunctional movement pattern or is trying to move or stabilize a joint that is “stuck”.  Often times, imbalances of the feet can create this kind of problem for a runner, like if one foot pronates more than the other.

This is not a difficult problem to correct and education of what creates it helps a runner to avoid the problem becoming chronic and causing sciatica.  Sometimes it is helpful to slow down or stop running for a short time while early in the healing process.

Doctors of Chiropractic are well-informed experts in conditions of muscle overuse. They can remedy the situation by applying gentle, hands-on treatment to include realignment of the pelvis and sacrum, improving the range of motion of the hip, creating pressure through the muscle to disperse the swelling and lactic acid.  They can also offer suggestions on required warm-up and cool-down exercises to keep the body fit and the runner in the race as well as perform the needed stretching and strengthening to assure the muscle functions at its best and does not get painful in the future.  Orthotics may be necessary and your chiropractor can make a pair of them that are customized to your needs.

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Voted Best Morgantown Chiropractic Office 2018, 2019, and 2021!

Voted Best Morgantown Chiropractic Office 2018, 2019, and 2021!