I’d like to introduce you to a hidden gem in your behind that's begging for your attention. Meet your piriformis muscle!
After teaching a Yoga Tune Up® class at our retreat this summer, I received an e-mail note from one of our attendees that read “Thank you for teaching me the Alpha ball rolling techniques to release over twenty years of awful, limiting hip and glute pain. The weekend positively changed my physical and mental health and inspired me to continue yoga practice!” I was delighted and grateful but not surprised. Yoga Tune Up® has worked on so many levels in my own body and that of my students at our studio that I have chosen it as my primary focus of teaching! Back to your backside...one of the main areas we therapeutically rolled out that day was the piriformis. It’s definitely a muscle I believe we should all get to know a little better to maintain a pain free, “do what we love to do” life! So here goes....
A LITTLE ANATOMY LESSON:
Your piriformis, works uber-hard for you every single day but gets very little attention until you make it crabby by mis-use, over-use and under appreciation. The piriformis is one of your deep six lateral hip rotators located deep under the gluteus maximus muscle. It attaches to the front surface of your sacrum (inside of the pelvic bowl) and inserts onto the greater trochanter on the outside of the femur (thigh bone). The piriformis is joined by a band of connective tissue, or fascia that stretches across the sacrum just above the tailbone which acts as a stabilizer for the sacrum and sacroiliac (SI) joint. THE IMPORTANT PART! It is the only hip rotator whose location overlies the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body and in 15-22% of the population; the sciatic nerve actually passes through the piriformis. The location of the piriformis is important to know because if it gets excessively tight or spasms it puts the big squeeze on the sciatic nerve causing burning pain, numbness and tingling down your leg or foot as well as wreaking havoc in all kinds of other uncomfortable ways through its fascial connections up your torso and lower limbs ie: low back pain, pelvic pain, knee pain and/or a deep pain in the buttock and hips. If it gets really grumpy you might get an unwelcome gift of sciatica or piriformis syndrome. Gifts that nobody wants to receive!
Learn what your piriformis does for you and more importantly what you can do for it to maintain
healthy happy hips
Every single day your piriformis is multi-tasking big time! It's responsible for abducting the leg, lifting the leg away from the midline of your body, while the hips are in flexion (like when you are seated stepping out of your car or when you're riding a horse or bicycle. It is a lateral rotator of your hips. We use it when we run, walk,anytime we shift our weight from one foot to another. It is also used to maintain balance, stabilizing the sacrum and sacroiliac (SI joint) and in sports that involve lifting and rotating the thighs which is almost all of them! Runners and cyclists need to give extra love to their piriformis due to the repetitive contraction and release use of this muscle. Another thing to watch out for is your body alignment. Many of us have a habit of standing or walking with one or both feet pointing out (external hip rotation) which can chronically shorten, tighten and weaken the piriformis. With all this responsibility it’s no wonder the piriformis gets uptight becoming a pain in your butt and beyond!
Keeping yours happy! Below is a video demo for one of my all-time favorite Yoga Tune Up® exercises called 1/2 Happy Baby Mini-vini regularly taught in our Yoga Tune Up® classes at the studio. Give it a try. I like to teach this a bit slower than the demo here. It's all good!!! This sequence will not only help keep your piriformis happy but it also lights up all the surrounding muscles and tissues as well! I've also included a therapy ball video for you to try. NOTE: I like to use larger PLUS or ALPHA balls for a gentler release either on the floor as in the video or working on the wall which allows more control to regulate the intensity of the massage work. I invite you to join us for a class or workshop to experience the positive effects a full Yoga Tune Up® practice can have on your body! Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls are available at our studio.
Do you only wear sunscreen when you go outside for an activity? It makes sense to most of us to say HEY, I'm going out biking...grab the sunscreen, No brainer for the beach or a round of golf BUT did you know the NUMBER ONE cause of skin cancer and aging skin is from small dose chronic exposure to the damaging UV rays of the sun and artificial sun tan beds? What is small dose?....that 10-15 min visit with your neighbor, a 20 min walk to the store or post office, driving in your car (yep, side windows do not offer protection from UV-A rays!). Chronic=daily which equals a long term slow build up of photo-damage to your precious skin cells causing permanent damage to your elastin and collagen which keep your skin from wrinkling and sagging, an excess accumulation of melanin--hello age spots and dark patches and most importantly the increase of skin cancer! As an aesthetician....I am passionate about educating my clients on proper skin care. As a woman who has lost 2 friends to malignant melanoma (both under the age of 41 !) I am adamant about educating everyone! Use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with no less than SPF 30 every day! Make sure yours is not expired (it should be listed on your product) There are amazing chemical-free formulas out there for everyone from sensitive skin, oil-free, non-greasy, sheer, matte (my oily skin clients and men love!), hydrating and anti-aging to tinted w/natural minerals for a sun-kissed glow without the damage! We even have a healthy skin flawless foundation/concealer in one that includes anti-aging ingredients and SPF 30 at our spa! Find something you love and use it every day! I promise not only will it be MUCH cheaper now than the doctor bills later but your healthy skin will thank you in years to come! NOW YOU KNOW. DON'T MAKE ME PUT SUNSCREEN ON YOU!
Want to check out the Image Sunscreens we carry at the spa?
This past weekend was our "Life Is A Beach" Women's Transformational weekend retreat. It was wonderful to meet each of the incredible women who took time out of their busy lives to be with us. It was Deb's and my hope that each of the women who came to the beach would leave with at least one special pearl of wisdom. That each would find a way to let go of whatever she needed to so that she could re-lax, re-juventate, and become re-newed and re-inspired! My sister, Susan shared this beautiful poem she had experienced over our retreat weekend and although she was unable to join us it became 100% clear she was there with us in spirit and that this was too powerful and relevant not to share with you all! ENJOY!
She Let Go.....
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear.
She let go of judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
A simple gift to her soul.....letting go
The author of this poem is unclear. A few sites list Ernest Holmes as the author, another Jennifer Eckert Bernau and still another Rev. Safire Rose.
Curly girl, teacher of yoga, anatomy, healthy lifestyle coaching, facials and fascia. Passion: Teaching people how to find happiness & strength in their analog bodies & souls in this fast paced 21st century world.