Piriformis Muscle: Definition and What it is

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT

Piriformis Muscle Definition and Meaning

The piriformis muscle is a small, band-like muscle located in the buttocks, near the top of the hip joint. It plays a crucial role in lower body movement, stabilizing the hip joint, maintaining balance, lifting and rotating the thigh away from the body, and enabling proper walking as you shift weight from one foot to the other. 

Common Piriformis Injuries

When the piriformis muscle becomes inflamed, it can irritate or compress the nearby sciatic nerve. This can lead to pain in the buttocks and muscle spasms, as well as numbness, tingling, and pain down the back of the leg and into the foot (similar to sciatica). These symptoms are sometimes referred to as “piriformis syndrome.”

Piriformis Issues: A Hinge Health Perspective

As our Hinge Health care team says, movement is medicine. Movement builds strength, flexibility, and resilience to pain. And it’s especially crucial for a condition like piriformis syndrome, in which prolonged periods of sitting may put pressure on the piriformis muscle and the adjacent sciatic nerve, contributing to your symptoms and pain. (On the flip side, piriformis syndrome also affects athletes who engage in rigorous lower body exercises.)

If you’re reluctant to move because you think you’ll cause more damage or injury to your piriformis muscle, know this: Movement is often the fastest way to healing. Movement, while at times painful, helps rehab muscles by increasing blood flow, and gradually improving the muscle’s strength and flexibility. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. 

Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.


  1. Hicks, B. L., Lam, J. C., & Varacallo, M. (2020). Piriformis Syndrome. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448172/ 

  2. Shmerling, R. H. (2022, September 18). Ask Dr. Rob about piriformis syndrome. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/ask-dr-rob-about-piriformis-syndrome 

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