Best Piriformis Stretches If You Are Obese, Plus Size or Very Overweight

Best Piriformis Stretches If You Are Obese, Plus Size or Very Overweight.png

I was working with one of my plus-sized clients a few days ago when she asked what are some stretches to help with her tight piriformis muscle.

Many of the common stretches recommended to her didn’t really stretch her piriformis or honestly, she said at her present size she couldn’t even get into position to stretch.

I hope our struggles can save you some of the time and heartache we experienced trying to solve this plus-sized piriformis stretching challenge.

I thought I would share with you some of the best stretches we discovered if you’re overweight, plus-sized or obese and want to stretch your piriformis muscle.

 

Any effective piriformis stretching program should contain:

  1. Brief dynamic warmup for the area

  2. A foam rolling/ soft ball rolling

  3. Seated/lying static stretch most commonly called figure 4 stretch( I will share multiple modifications.  Sometimes your stomach can get in the way,  your legs can get in the way or your hips,knees and ankles may not be in the mood just yet.)

 

Helpful Items to Make Stretching Your Piriformis Easier

Items you may want to have on hand but not required to stretch your piriformis when you are very overweight:

  1. Stretching mat

  2. Yoga strap, rope or bath towel for stretching

  3. Good stable chair or exercise bench

  4. Foam Roller

Best Dynamic Warm-up For Piriformis If Obese

Dynamic Tabletop to Cow/Cat to Tail Wagging

How to do Cat/Cow Pose

  • Come to all fours. Plant your palms firmly to your mat and spread your fingers wide.
  • Feel your shoulders on top of your wrist and hips on top of your knees. Keep your knees separated hip width distance apart.
  • Engage your belly muscles and create a flat surface with the spine by pressing your palms into the floor.
  • INHALE – dip your belly down, chin reaches up, think about arching your back.
  • EXHALE- Press palms into your mat, tuck your chin, feel the belly and pelvic floor lift.

Beginners Tip: If you experience discomfort or pain by kneeling, use a blanket under your knees to help release pressure.

 How to do Tail Wagging Pose

  • Come back to a neutral tabletop position. Look over your left shoulder and bring your left hip towards your left shoulder. Stay for 3 breaths. Repeat on right side ONLY if it feels okay (maybe hold for less time).
  • From tabletop inhale in your neutral position.
  • Exhale to gaze over your LEFT shoulder toward the LEFT hip, move from the rib cage.
  • Inhale back to center.
  • Exhale, switch sides.

Do this 3 more times each side.

  • From tabletop begin to shift your hips from side to side starting slowly moving with the breath and then moving your torso and head so that you are looking at each hip as it turns
  • Inhale with head and tail at center
  • Exhale to look right shoulder and swing tail to the right
  • Inhale back to center
  • Exhale to repeat to other side
  • From tabletop inhale in your neutral position.
  • Exhale to gaze over your right shoulder toward the right hip, move from the rib cage.
  • Inhale back to center.
  • Exhale, switch sides.

Do this 3 more times each side.

Tail wagging pose

  • Sway the hips to the left and look towards the right foot as you exhale then inhale and sway the hips to the right and look towards the left foot do this a couple of times to free up the back maybe even circle the bottom a few times if that feels good.

The next step in your program is to complete a brief foam rolling session.

Benefits of Foam Roll Your Piriformis

If you are sitting or driving all day, your glutes (butt) muscles get tensed and tend to develop knots over time.

The easiest way to give your butt some release is a technique called self-myofascial release (SMR).

It’s a soft tissue therapy that uses a foam roller to roll out your soreness and tenderness in your muscles.
 

How to Foam Roll Your Piriformis/Glutes (Butt) If You Are Obese

  • Sit on top of a foam roller with only the right side of your butt on the roller. Cross the right foot over the left knee, and place your left hand on your right knee.
  • Slowly let your roller roll underneath the butt to the back of your hip bone until you find a tender spot. Hold it for 20-30 seconds until the tension is released.
  • Switch legs and repeat.
  • Only your right side of buttocks should be on the foam roller and has your bodyweight on.  
  • Your left hand should be on the floor to balance yourself while rolling.
  • keep your torso straight, chest up, and shoulders back and down.
  • Support your body weight on your hands.
  • 20-30 secs hold
     

Figure 4 Stretch and Modifications to Stretch Your Piriformis If You Are Obese, Plus Size or Very Overweight

The seated figure four is a modification of the figure four yoga pose, typically done while standing. This pose can be done anywhere and is a good stretch to help open your hips, particularly if you have a job that involves sitting at a desk for extended periods of time. To do a seated figure four, find a stable chair where you can place both feet on the floor. Once you've perfected the seated figure four, you may want to try other hip-opening poses


How to Do a Seated Figure Four for Your Piriformis

  • Sit properly. To do any seated yoga variation, you must be sitting in a solid, stable chair that allows you to place both of your feet firmly on the floor. Chairs with wheels or with a lot of cushioning in the seat typically aren't the best choices.
  • Sit forward on the edge of your chair and make sure your back is neutral, not arched. You should be sitting on your "sit bones" – two points you'll be able to feel on your buttocks – not on your tailbone. Center your ribcage over your hips.
  • Roll your shoulders back so that your shoulder blades are tucked in and flowing straight down your back alongside your spine.
  • Loosen your neck and spine. Before you get started with the seated figure four, it's a good idea to do some neck stretches and twists to gently open up your neck and back. These are especially important if you're stiff from sitting hunched over a computer for an extended period of time
  • Simple neck and shoulder rolls will help loosen you up and improve your mobility. While not technically yoga poses or exercises, they can help warm you up for the seated figure four as well as other seated yoga poses.
  • Do neck and shoulder roll both clockwise and counter-clockwise. Then come to a seat at the edge of your chair with your feet firmly on the floor and twist to the left and right to loosen your spine. Keep your hips squared forward, and only twist as far as you can without pain or discomfort.
  • Cross your right leg. To move into the seated figure four, plant your left foot solidly on the floor, then lift your right leg and bend it at the knee so it's crossed over your left leg. You want to place your right ankle on your left thigh, just above your knee.
  • Flex your right foot and try to keep your knee and leg as flat as possible. You should feel a slight stretch in the muscles of your outer hip.
  • Press your palms together in front of your chest to complete the pose. To take the pose deeper, gently press down on your right knee with your right hand.
  • Breathe deeply. Breathing is at the center of yoga practice. Turn your focus to your breath and inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your belly. Think of filling your lungs with air from the bottom up.
  • When your lungs are completely full, pause for a moment before exhaling slowly out of your mouth. Open your throat so you are making a whispered "ha" sound in the back of your throat as you exhale. With practice, you'll be able to make this sound while exhaling through your nose.
  • Exhaling can help ease tension and stress as it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, particularly if you lengthen your exhalation.
  • When you've completely exhaled, pause before inhaling again. These pauses between inhaling and exhaling help your breathing become more intentional.
  • Hold the pose for 10 to 20 breaths, or as long as you can do so comfortably. Since this is a gentle pose, you can hold it as long as you want – just keep in mind that you need to switch and do the other side.
  • Fold forward. If you want to intensify the stretch in your glutes and outer thighs, you can do so by hinging your torso forward from the waist. Try to keep your back as flat and neutral as possible, and lower your shoulders away from your ears. This will help open your throat and allow you to maintain your breathing practice.
  • Think about folding your chest or heart toward your thighs. You can rest your torso on your thighs if it's comfortable for you to fold that deeply. Don't go lean so far forward that you feel pain, however. Or, if you’re sitting at a desk, you can lean onto the desk.
  • Repeat with the other leg. Lower your right foot to the floor, then lift your left foot and repeat the same movements.

If you find it difficult to get a good stretch or find comfortable position try a standing piriformis stretch

 How to Perform Standing Piriformis Stretch if you are obese, overweight or plus-sized

  • For this exercise, you need to stand up. Put your right leg above the knee of the left leg. Then, at an angle of 45 degrees, lower your hip. Bend your torso forward while you keep your spine straight
  • Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds and then, do the same with the other leg.

 

Another alternative and a good stretch to include to stretch your piriformis is the Supine Piriformis Stretch if you feel comfortable lying on the floor

How to Perform the Supine Piriformis Stretch

  • For this exercise, you need to lie down on your back and bend your knees to a 45-degree angle.
  • You cross your right leg, over your left up toward your chest. With one hand your ankle, and with the other hand, hold your knee. Then, draw up towards your shoulder in the same line with your ankle.
  • You should keep this position for about 30-60 seconds until you feel your bottom and glutes relax and release some tension
  • Repeat for your other side.

Since you are on the floor already you may wish to include the Outer Hip Piriformis Stretch

Outer Hip Piriformis Stretch

  • For this exercise, you need to lie down, bend your right leg, and keep your foot close to the knee of your left leg. Then, slowly pull your leg to the opposite side while you try to touch the floor with your knee.
  • When you extend the left leg, you should put your right hand on your knee, while you raise the left hand. While you are attempting to touch the floor with your shoulder, you should lower your arm in the opposite direction of the knee.
  • Stay in this position for about twenty seconds, and do the same with your other leg.

 

I think this is a very helpful program to use stretch your piriformis if you are obese, plus-sized or very overweight.

If I can be of help please reach out to me via email, or on social media give me a day or so and I will respond.

 

Love, peace and less chicken grease,

Alton