The piriform muscle

(M. piriformis)


The piriformis muscle is a flat, piriform skeletal muscle of the lower limb. In detail, it is part of the deeper group of the hip muscles.
It comes from the sacrum (Os sacrum) along the inside of the pelvis to the femur. Before it inserts on the greater trochanter (Trochanter major), its insertion tendon joins with tendons of its synergist (Mm gemelli = upper and inferior gemellus muscle and obturator internus muscle).
The piriform muscle supports the supination of the femoral in standing position, abducts the leg in the hip to the side (abduction), and effects a stretching in the hip (retroversion of the femoral).

In case, problems arise with the piriform muscle, it is often caused by an irritation of the ischiatic nerve. This runs in close vicinity to the muscle. The diagnosis is called piriformis syndrome: an irritation of the ischiatic nerve due to an inflammation of the piriform muscle.
Main symptom is a piercing pain in the buttocks, which radiates into the femoral. Numbness, prickling down into the toes, and back pains in the lumbar spine can also arise as symptoms.
Runners are often affected sportsmen. The cause is overstrain, false strain (i.e., false running technique) or a leg length difference (anatomical or functional).

Exercise preventively your pelvic base muscle (strength and mobilization training) and adapt your range of training to your fitness level. Strength and flexibility of hip muscles are decisive for the correct posture of the pelvis.



Piriform muscle



Os sacrum (lateral inner surface of the sacrum)

Insertion: Head of the greater trochanter (femur)

External rotation, abduction, and retroversion of the femoral




Exercise examples






Course of motion:

  • Stand on the side of the lower cable control of the multi-gym
  • Foot strap is attached to the ankle (leg which is not close to the machine)
  • Go away from the machine as far as possible
  • Stabilize the torso, upright in resting position
  • Hold to the machine if required
  • Draw the toes towards the body
  • Abduct the leg to the side as far as possible
  • Slow returning without setting down



  • Exhale while abducting the leg
  • Inhale while adducting the leg


Advices of proof:

  • Avoid using the hips
  • Keep the torso upright and calm
  • Do not set down the foot
  • Adapt the weight



  • In lying position without additional weight (lower leg on the floor)
  • In lying position with both legs lifted from the floor (upper leg is additionally abducted)
  • Use Kettlebells as weights




Course of motion:

  • Attach the foot strap of the lower cable control on the ankle
  • Stand in front of the multi-gym
  • Standing leg is slightly bent
  • Hold the torso upright
  • Tense the abdominal muscles
  • Draw up the toes
  • Move the heel backwards/upwards by hip stretching with slightly bent leg
  • Up to maximum extension in the hip
  • Slowly return the foot to starting position without setting it down



  • Exhale while stretching the hip
  • Inhale while returning


Advices of proof:

  • Keep the upright torso position
  • Avoid using the hip
  • Movement is exclusively done from the hip
  • Do not take a swing



  • Buttocks kicks on the floor or bench (in all-fours position)
  • Lying on a mat (leg lifting with bent or stretched leg)

Create a varied and effective training of the piriform muscle by means of different training equipment. Use the following training accessories for strengthening the piriform muscle:



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