Behind the Curve

on June 8, 2011 in Misc

Warning:  today I’m gonna talk about a small muscle deep in the butt, including my butt (or as Henri in fencing calls it, my nice derriere).  And this is relevant to a lot of you writers because like me you sit for hours while writing and/or at your jobs, and all that sedentary stuff really shortens this muscle and makes it go hard in the wrong ways and that’s not good.

It’s called the piriformis muscle.  Yesterday I got a lesson about it because my chiropractor told me how, despite my generally limber condition, that little booger beneath my gluteal muscles is really tight and has to get loosened ‘cause it’s pulling other tissue and stuff out of whack.  Well, he used more scientific words, but you get my drift.

See, for most of my life I’ve kept pretty limber.  I could always put my palms on the floor, do splits (but not the front/Russian splits), and so on.  Still, I’ve been learning lately how over the years I’ve been doing the same old exercises, and none of them address parts of me like the dang little piriformis.  And that tight piri muscle is one reason my front splits are so tight and limited.

Anyway, my chiro doc gave me a couple of stretching exercises that I’ve already tried out and I can tell you that right away my hips and upper thighs felt warm and more open.   (Oh, how friendly and sexy that sounds!)

The first one I knew about already:  sit in a CUSHIONED chair (hard services are bad for the coccyx) and cross one leg over the other with my foot resting on my knee.  Then straighten my back and lean forward as much as possible.  Where I’ve been wrong about this exercise in the past is a) I’ve done it only once in a while when I should do it twice a day in sets of 5 for each leg; b) I haven’t been leaning in deeper and deeper until it hurts; and c) I have to hold the position for at least a minute.  According to the doc, anything less than a minute is worthless.

He then showed me a handy variation:  lie on the floor with my butt almost up against the wall, cross my foot onto my knee, then walk my supporting leg up the wall until I really, really feel the pain/stretch.  Hold it for a full minute.   Repeat and repeat.

You know what appeals to me about these exercises?  I can SIT there and stretch for several minutes, or I can LIE there and stretch away.  It’s a lazy woman’s dream.

Finally, there’s also the pigeon pose, and any of you who’ve had yoga know that one.  I’ve included a picture here along with a link to a website that describes these exercises.  You may be interested because a lot of you are writers, which means you sit a lot, which shortens the piri muscle, and that means you might get kinda, well … tightassed like me.

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/flexibilityandstretching/qt/Piriformis_str.htm

4 Responses to “Behind the Curve”

  1. ann says:

    I’ve been practicing yoga for the past 5 years and I don’t know how I survived the first 20 years of my “sit on my ass-hunch over my computer” job without the benefits of a good yoga class. I love that its called a “practice” since I will never master the poses and I must continually practice to keep my body in shape. One day my balance is good. The next day I struggle to stay upright. My ham strings are still too tight but after a few sun salutations my whole body warms up and I love how loose I feel afterwards. Sounds like your chiro doc gave you some good advice. We all need to stay limber. I only wish I had done more when I was younger. Sigh…

  2. Helena says:

    Ann — I’m impressed with how faithfully you work out! I wish so much that I had really loosened up my hips/upper thighs when I was a little kid and it came naturally. Oh well.

  3. Ciara Knight says:

    I miss yoga. I’m afraid my back won’t allow it any more. Two lower discs gone for good. :( I hope some day I can resume a full lifestyle. Do yourself a favor and keep going. Yoga is awesome.

  4. Helena says:

    Ciara — You have two discs gone yet you still accomplish so very much and are so impressive and sweet? I am in awe of you!