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Is the seated piriformis stretch complementary or redundant with the supine piriformis stretch?


Seated piriformis stretch:

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(image source (mirror))

Supine piriformis stretch:

enter image description here

(image source (mirror))

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The two approachs are different in one important respect: In the seated version, as you can see in the picture, the person is flexed forward in their lower back. Now, through out the exercise universe, forward flexion is vastly over represented. Whether we are talking about weight lifting or Yoga or cycling, people spend the large majority of their exercise time flexed forward. When you consider that people are also flexed forward when they are looking at their phones three hours a day, you have a problem. Anywhere you can remove a forward flexed movement or position from your exercise routine, you should do so, in my opinion. That is why I practice the floor version. In the floor version, you can maintain a neutral lumbar curve.

ps. The floor piriformis stretch works much better with a strap. I tried to send you an image to show how you would use a strap in this stretch.
However, when I did a quick google images search, I couldn't find a single image of how it is done. So, I'm afraid I can't show this to you. If you come to one of my classes in Portland, OR, I could show you in person.

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  • Thanks! Is it the supine piriformis stretch with a strap that you have in mind i.stack.imgur.com/NHrtM.png? Follow-up question: Should one push or pull the leg when performing a piriformis stretch? Mar 26 '19 at 1:35
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    In regards to that picture, let's call the leg that has the strap the "supporting leg". (The leg that is bent in front is the "active leg".) I take the strap and put it around the bottom of the foot of the supporting leg. I raise up the foot of the supporting leg so that it is higher than the knee of that same leg. I also don't like pulling my elbows down to the floor like he is doing. I grab the strap close enough to the foot that my arms can extend. And I put some tension on the strap. Hope that helps
    – Chris
    Mar 26 '19 at 3:15
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    In regards to pushing against the active leg: If you are using the strap method, then your hands are both on the strap, so you aren't pushing or pulling the active leg. However, for the sake of argument, if I were doing the pose that the man is doing in the lower image, I would not push on the active leg. The reason is that the hip of your active leg is probably turned out to the full range of motion, and the head of the femur is probably pushing against the labrum of the acetabulum. You definitely don't want to abuse your labrum.
    – Chris
    Mar 26 '19 at 3:30
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    In my class tomorrow, I'll take a picture of a student doing the stretch, if they let me.
    – Chris
    Mar 26 '19 at 3:31

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