AN UPDATE FROM RUNNER’S WORLD


From 15 June 2024, the Runner’s World forum will hang up its running shoes for the final time.


While we are saying goodbye to the forum, you can continue to enjoy Runner’s World through our various platforms, each offering a different way to stay connected:


Sign up to the RW newsletter: Read about the latest running trends, gear reviews, expert advice and inspirational stories, delivered straight to your inbox. 


Visit runnersworld.com/uk: With everything from long reads and training articles to plans and nutrition tips, the content you trust is just a click away. 


Become a subscriber: Get the print magazine for the best in-depth features, expert advice, stunning photography and exclusive content tailored for every level of runner.


Follow us on social media: Follow @RunnersWorldUK on X, Facebook and Instagram for your daily dose of advice, motivation and fun. Keep on running…


The Runner's World team

Options

Ok, so that piriformis really is upset

It's remarkable how long you can fight on with a niggle, telling yourself that it's not getting worse, and will clear up any time soon.

I've been carrying a slight piriformis niggle for a while, and it has been getting noticeably worse. It hurts like mad first thing in the morning (before some slightly painful and cautious moving around). The pain is the stereotypical slight butt pain and feeling of torn muscles down the back of the leg- but has been easy to rationalise away as it hurts a lot less during/after running.

Anyway, it has been getting worse, sneezing first thing is enough to make me whimper in pain, not good. I have reluctantly been taking a break for the last week, and went to see my lovely and capable osteopath/sports massage person. She prodded, poked, waggled and stretched. Worse yet, she agreed that taking a break from running for at least another week to see how it goes was a good plan. The worst part of this is that it's obviously rational and correct, buggrit.

Meantime, I have been given some sensible stretches to do, and will be using my foam roller (which is very lovely and firm, with a hard core) to give the piriformis a careful poke; hopefully this is more gentle than the polo ball that usually does the trick for getting into deeply buried muscles.

I have probably been carrying this around for at least a month or two, getting steadily worse, and too stubborn to admit it. I should know better. Most of you lot know better, too, but I'm willing to bet that you have done just as badly on occasion.

Bottoms to it.

Comments

  • Options
    NessieNessie ✭✭✭

    Once you have foam-rollered it into submission, google "pigeon pose" yoga position.  That helps a lot.

    I got some spiky balls with my foam roller - not as bad as a tennis ball, so definitely less painful than a polo ball (and less middle class, what?).  Hits the spot, with less eye-water.

    Good luck!

  • Options

    That pose looks a bit confusing. I'll give it a go when I feel braver, thanks!

    I went and found some tennis balls today. I hate to admit it, but the only place in the massive soul-crushing megamall near work to sell tennis balls was Sports feckin' Direct image I feel filthy, in a bad way.

  • Options

     I am just getting over this myself. Worst pain I have ever been in and didn't know where to put myself. Sitting and standing were agony,  walking and lying down only a bit less so. And I had it on both sides image

    i suggest it might take more than a week's rest but it will go away eventually.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Options
    NessieNessie ✭✭✭

    K - I'd recommend a shower with wire brush and Dettol.  Your piriformis may receover before you feel clean again.

  • Options

    Yeah, screams, I'm sure you're right.

    I am into the second week now, extremely grudgingly, and I will have a massage/osteopath session at the weekend to see how it's going. The problem is that I have a recurrent lower back injury that I've had since I was a teenager, which can also cause sciatica, which I think masked this for a while. I got rid of the latest flareup of that, which meant that I could actually notice the issue in the piriformis, and how it was a bit fucked-up and angry.

    This morning, on the way to the station, I think I must have stepped off a kerb oddly, the pain stopped me in my tracks, and it was all I could do not to puke (which considering some of the things that I have done for fun in the past, is saying something). It took a few minutes before I felt like walking again, obviously meaning that I missed the train, boo!

    It all sounds very dramatic, but I think that's just because I'm being a drama pony seeking sympathy image

     

    Nessie- right now, the plan to deal with the shame is to rock back and forth in the shower, sobbing. It seems like the most rational option.

  • Options

    Mine is a bit lower back related too, according to the physio.

    I understand the level of pain, Every so often when walking it would feel like someone was stabbing me in the arse.

    I've gone from pain killers (that didn't really work) every 4 hours 24/7 to maybe once a day so you will get there.

  • Options

    When it screwed with the sciatic nerve, the pain is confusing. It usually feels like torn muscles down the back of my leg, too- though sometimes like a nail sticking through my forefoot, too.

    When it was first discovered, when I was 14/15 or so, I presented to my GP complaining of a torn muscle that wasn't healing, in fact. Buggrit!

    Mostly I am trying to avoid painkillers, though I am taking the odd ibuprofen, as as soon as the inflammation is reduced, the pain goes away too. I don't like that, though, it's rough on your stomach, and weirdly, gives me a slight headache.

    That said, I am feeling a slight pain from the area of the injury sometimes, which is almost reassuring, as it's hard to find, otherwise.

    Anyway, you're probably right again, it will get there pretty soon. It's just very dull to be on an involuntary break. I run for the mood/anxiety reduction benefits as much as the physical stuff, so it makes me squirrely as hell. My nice osteopath said similar, she looked determined and said "don't worry, you WILL sort this" very firmly.

    We all know the answer. People are always saying "just calm down and rest it, let it heal, for goodness sake.. don't rush and set yourself back". Taking your own advice really does suck, mind.

  • Options
    senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
  • Options
    senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    sorry, couldn't resist, but also a sufferer from LBP, kept me injured whole of 2015 with sciatic symptoms.



    Had scans, x rays, physio and osteopath, but most relief is result of back exercise regime.



    My daughter, a physio, gave me list of exercises, mainly leg raises when I'm on hands and knees with light ankle weights, donkey kicks and hydrant lifts with some yoga, cobra, and planks etc. Seems to have worked to an extent and am running easier, if slowly.
  • Options

    You sod, senid image

    I think I will persevere with the osteopath for now, as even though it's a slightly "alternative" intervention, it's usually a bloody good massage, which generally is enjoyable in its own strange way, and really does seem to provide some helpful relief. If I have back issues, it's usually that when stuff gets wonky, the muscles spasm, making it worse. A good pounding puts paid to that neatly. The piriformis thing is uncharted territory for me, though. It may be best to remain positive about osteopathy for now, though, give it a fair go at the current mess.

    I'm glad that you're getting there, though- long may it continue. Hopefully if you're able to run gently, the movement from running itself might even prove useful? Be well.

  • Options

    After endless months of getting nowhere with sorting the pain in my arse I happened upon this:-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFtUgS69rPk

    Doing this stretch sorted it in days, literally!

    Dave

  • Options
    HA77HA77 ✭✭✭

    Your piriformis is not the cause of the problem, it's a symptom. I would strongly suspect that it's a nerve issue from your back that's the problem. Massage is symptomatic relief only.

  • Options

     

    HA77 wrote (see)

    Your piriformis is not the cause of the problem, it's a symptom. I would strongly suspect that it's a nerve issue from your back that's the problem. Massage is symptomatic relief only.

    I'm obviously thrilled that your internet diagnostic skills are better than those of my GP. Are you available for private consultation?

     

    Dave T,

    Great link! Oddly, I am already doing a very similar stretch (courtesy of my osteopath), which is providing great symptomatic relief. The chair variant is mostly the same, except I put my hand (on the side that isn't stretching) on the floor, and hold it for a bit. It feels like a pretty deep stretch, and really helps. I tend to do the lying down variant first thing before getting out of bed, as that's usually the most uncomfortable part of the day, and it seems to help, too.

    I'm also doing some gentle hamstring stretches of the sort that'd be familiar to any runner- I have always had very tight hamstrings.

    I'll try the first bonkers thing that he did, too- even though it may not be useful, it doesn't look harmful. If no-one can see you do it, it's probably worth trying, either way. If it doesn't help, no loss!

    I have been slacking with the tennis ball, but whenever I remember that, it seems to reduce discomfort too. It will get better- though I suspect that the key ingredient here is just to not run on it until it's more healed, and meantime not let myself get all wonky with compensatory behaviours.

    Thanks for the link, though- looks good.

  • Options
    HA77HA77 ✭✭✭

    My advice is free. Take it if you want, otherwise ignore it. My advice for musculoskeletal problems is usually the same on here - see a good physio who knows about running.

  • Options

    Your advice seems to be based on only reading small amounts of what's posted, so it is of limited value. However, I am sure that it was kindly meant, so thanks for being thoughtful enough to offer it image (..not meant sarcastically, though it really reads that way.)

  • Options
    HA77HA77 ✭✭✭

    No worries. I very well might have missed something. It just read as though your back problem and piriformis were 2 separate issues. I think they could have the same root cause presenting with somewhat different symptoms on different occasions.

  • Options

    Yeah, you're not completely wide of the mark- the piriformis pain and its effect on my movement/posture has managed to produce some compensatory muscle spasm/tightness in the lower back too, which muddies the water this time around.

    There is a long-running lower-back injury which can and does flare up every few years. When it does, I lose mobility between several vertebrae in my lower back, get a little wonky and spasmy and it does indeed cause sciatic nerve pain too. However, it's not apparently currently causing problems. However, there is a palpable knot around the piriformis area, and I can sometimes feel some discomfort in that area.

    So you're right to the extent that I need to be aware of my lower back, but in this specific instance, I think it's just collateral damage rather than root cause. I wish you were right, as when it's just the lower back causing problems, manipulation, a bunch of easy stretches and remembering to stay mobile usually helps. This seems to require actual rest- the humanity of it all!

  • Options
    @Kattefjaes

    Has there been any relief over 5 years? 

    I know I may be too late to ask. 

    I'm going through exactly what you have described and it's been 5 months and it hasn't gone away. 
  • Options
    I used to have this pretty bad. Now I exercise my glutes so much I can crack nuts with them. Occasional spiky ball in my glutes and I'm fine with it. Physio and running coach have me exercises to do, I do the full routine twice weekly and it's enough to keep it at bay. Strong glutes are so important for all runners and keep a whole host of injuries at bay. Good luck  
Sign In or Register to comment.