10 Piriformis Strengthening Exercises That Work

Piriformis syndrome is a very frustrating chronic pain condition. And one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to fix piriformis pain is to constantly stretch. Stretching has its place but you need to know when to do it.

Below, I listed a few key piriformis syndrome resources to help you learn more about this condition. But for this post, I want to share with you 10 of my best glutes and piriformis strengthening exercises to help you balance your hips. They’re all bodyweight and can be done anywhere.

Originally, this post included only 6 piriformis strengthening exercises, but I recently updated it with 3 additional exercises focused on firing up the glutes to avoid compensation. (I also got a new camera and wanted to add another better quality video!)

Now before I get to the exercises, if you’ve been suffering from piriformis syndrome for a while, please check out the following posts:

Recommended Program: Piriformis Control Program.

Is The Piriformis Really Tight?

Most people think that just because a muscle feels tight that it’d need stretching and not strengthening. That’s actually wrong. A muscle can be tight and overactive, but it doesn’t mean it’s actually strong. Inside Piriformis Control, I help you figure that out under 10 minutes…

Now because the piriformis is a deep gluteal muscle, it’s normal to also engage other hip muscles as you’re working the piriformis. The important thing here is to focus on doing the exercises with proper form and not compensating with your hip flexors or lower back muscles.

10 Exercises To Strengthen The Piriformis Muscle

I’ve organized these 10 exercises into 3 separate routines all designed to help you strengthen the piriformis. The first video will show you 3 exercises to activate the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. You want to start with activating these big muscles first to prevent compensation.

The second routine will introduce a loop band to add challenge. We will still work on activating the gluteus medius along with the piriformis by adding a rotational exercise.

The third routine will still include the loop band but we’re also engaging the deep core. I recommend you start with the first one until you feel confident to move forward.

Routine 1 – Engage your gluteus maximus and medius

Exercise Breakdown:

Banded side-to-side walks: Make sure you keep your feet straight to not compensate with the TFL.

Hip drops: Keep your legs as straight as possible. Engage your core to stay stable and maintain proper straight posture (with no exaggerated lower back curve).

Glute contractions: This is my favorite exercise to engage the gluteus maximus (the biggest muscle in the body). You can do this exercise anywhere. Strong glutes will help you eliminate lower back pressure.

Routine 2 – Add a loop band to activate the glutes and add challenge

Exercise Breakdown:

Side-to-side walks: We’re starting again with the loop band walks to activate the gluteus medius.

Hip hinge side leg lifts: This is a great gluteus medius and piriformis activation exercise. Make sure you’re abducting your leg here without flexing your body to the side.

Abduction Circles: This exercise will engage the piriformis muscles as we add the rotational movement. When you lift your leg up, keep your foot points straight forward and keep your glutes engaged.

Routine 3 – Glutes and Core Strengthening

Exercise Breakdown:

Stand-to-hip hinge: This is a more advanced version of the side-to-side walks. We’re focusing on one leg at a time. But make sure you’re not rotating your foot out and not using your lower back.

Plank – side to side leg reach: When you get into the plank position, keep your back straight and avoid arching or rounding your back. Pull your belly in a bit to make sure you’re not using your hip flexors too. You also want to keep your glutes tight. This is a great exercise to strengthen the glutes and the core at the same time.

Bridges: The bridge exercise is one of my favorite hip strengthening exercises. By adding the loop band, we’re making sure to keep the gluteus medius engaged at all times. I have a step-by-step tutorial on how to properly do the bridge exercises here.

Lying leg lift circles: We’re adding rotation in this exercise to engage the piriformis muscle. Keep your glutes engaged and complete each repetition with control.

How To Effectively Strengthen The Piriformis Without Triggering Pain

It’s important to perform these routines without pain. Don’t push through the pain if you feel the muscles are starting to spasm. This is why I broke down the exercises into 3 separate routines.

To make sure you’re not triggering pain, make sure you always start by activating the gluteus medius and maximus first (and we do that in all the routines above). These muscles are primary hip stabilizers and when they’re inactive, compensation happens when the piriformis is doing more than it should.

Don’t be scared to exercise and move your body. Your joints and muscles need the challenge to grow and stay healthy. You just need to make sure you’re doing them right and not compensating during movement. If you have piriformis syndrome I highly recommend you join my program Piriformis Control. I will show you exactly which muscular imbalances to fix and how to fix them.

  • Hey Sofia, love what you said about listening to your body and exercising accordingly. Been doing that for years as the pain I’ve has has forced me to figure out what was wrong and find solutions when therapists could not.

    • Hi Sharon!
      Yes, only by tuning inwards and listening to our bodies that we can truly know what’s going on. It takes courage and daily discipline but in the end, you’ll know more about your body than anyone else. Only by taking full control of your health and healing that you can truly fix what’s been triggering the pain because in the end…pain is a messenger to get your attention that something is not aligned in your body. Your body is not the enemy and we have to start changing out perspective about healing.

      • I’ve had two hip replacements and notice increasing knock knees. I’m very active, do lots of walking and yoga but the knees don’t improve. Do you think strengthening Piriformis would help?

        • Hi Linda,
          If your knees don’t hurt, and there is no arthritis or joint problem, the knocking will probably go away on its own. It’s normal for joints down or up the hips to be affected after hip surgery. The body is a kinetic chain and everything is connected. I recommend strengthening the piriformis as part of your glutes (since it’s a deep gluteal muscle), so just focus on strengthening your glutes and when you do exercises that externally rotate the hip, you will be engaging the piriformis (because it’s a hip external rotator).

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