Piriformis Stretch For Back Pain And Sciatica – Part 2

Since there have been LOTS of comments on the popular  “Piriformis Stretch For Back Pain And Sciatica…Done Right” YouTube video, regarding not being able to cross the leg in the seated position, I wanted to follow up with some alternatives for you.

Enjoy these hip stretch alternatives you can do while lying on your back.

It’s EXTREMELY important to have good movement in the back side of your hip (especially for rotational movements like reaching, bending and twisting, vacuuming, golf, baseball, etc.)  So give this a try and let me know what you think in the comments.


  1. Thanks for this alternative.When I try this exercise sitting on a chair my left leg looks like the example you give for people with very little flexibility in the back of their hip. The right leg is much better. I had already tried doing this lying down but the addition of tilting slightly to each side is good. I am hopeful that with time and perseverence I will gain much more flexibility in both hips. I already feel some improvement.

  2. Love this! I also do a version with the wall instead of the ball, placing my foot un the wall and rest. Is practical when I want to do it somewhere when no ball or chair is available!


    thanks again for greet videos. Just shared on FB.

  3. Hello Dr. Steve~

    Thank you for another great video on the piroformis stretch.  As a competitive runner, this stretch is so essential for hip flexibility and doing it religiously allows for a free and easy gait while training and competing.

    A question: when doing this cross-over with the leg, there seems to be some tension on the medial crucial ligament on the inside of the knee.  Is that normal or do you recommend another stretch to maintain stength and flexibility in those essential ligaments which support the inside of the knee?

    Continued thanks for your incredible videos.


    Richard Henderson

    Philadelphia, Pa





    • Hey Richard,  A lot of times you can stabilize the knee by dorsiflexing your foot up toward your shin and everting the foot as well.  Proprioceptive exercises like balance board, bosu ball, or just one leg balance are some of my favorites for activating knee stability.  Keep is up!

      • Thank you Dr. Steve:

        I have always been a fan of the proprioceptive one-leg balancing drills before leaving for a run or starting a race.  Spectators often think I am a bit strange but that feeling of balance and equilibrium always ensures a good run or race and it becomes a body/mind type of balance as well.  The dorsiflexing is something I always try to do before getting out of bed in the morning but  I will increase the usage of that  movement before training runs and races as well.  The thera-bands are a great source of resisitance in the dorsiflexing I have found.  I have a Swissball, but will add the Bosu ball to myregimine   Continued thanks Dr. Steve for your wealth of knowledge and your willingness to share your expertise with us.    Sincerely, Richard Henderson~  Philadelphia, PA

  4. Dr. Steve, ok.  it might be hard to imagine but I cannot even put my ankle on my knee my left ankle on my right knee. I can't cross over at all.  I am barely able to put my right ankle over my left knee just barely. Do you have any suggestions? There's a story about how this occurred.theresa

    • theresa, when i started i had the same problem.  very inflexible.  i modified by sitting on my coffeetable or the top step of my stair.  my leg was supported while the knee was bent . the other leg was straight to the floor kinda forward as if the knee would rest on it. then i leaned forward.  6 months can cross my  ankle over knee, still cannot sit up  straight progress not perfection. 

  5. Wow! Again, you nailed it! I was  doing the seated exercise with no results. I realize my hip was too tight. As soon as I performed your technique I felt immediate release in all the muscles penetrating the area of pain. Amazing, you techniques always have a subtle difference with profound results. I'll add this to my daily practice, along with the hamstring stretch, hip movements, slow pushups. Thank you, Dr. Steve.

    • Little hinges swing BIG doors, Darrell.  And you said very important words there that others should pay attention to and learn from….DAILY PRACTICE!

      Keep it up, my friend!


  6. Dr. Steve, what does it mean if I have more discomfort in hips and low back after doing modified versions of hip stretch?? Outside of hips ache afterwards. I am not pushing my limit on these stretches, and I don’t have structural damage per MRIs. Thank you

    • I'll need a bit more info about it, Carol.  Does it not happen with the seated stretch?

      Is it possible to post a picture of you while in the stretch so I can see your form?  Since you're a coaching student, you can attach it through the comment submission box inside the training course site.

      If you post this comment with as much detail as possible in the course under the "hip stretch on back" I'll be able to help more.



  7. Dr. Steve thank you for this exercise, lately I can not sleep on my side and wake up with pain on front and side of my thigh. is there any excercise for that, appreciate your response.


    • Many causes, my friend.  Wish I could give you a targeted exercise but I can't.

      Best to get a solid orthopedic and functional movement eval from a qualified DC, PT, DO, or MD to find the core of the issue.


  8. Hi Dr. Steve,

    Thanks for the video.  I am a member and a long time fan. I recently forgot not to sit as some women tend to sit with both legs tucked under me but off to the side.  According to my chiro here in Germany, this pulled my thigh bone (hip joint) out of the socket slightly and took my SI joint out.  For six weeks now, I have been going back to get it put back in place.  I also started doing the health bounce and jumping off the mat on the trampoline to strengthen as he said SI is strengthened in mid flight.  He said to try to do all activities with my knee/leg facing forward til it strengthens.  I sleep on my side and am now using a pillow between my knees.  I am 46 and had been mostly inactive.  The trampoline is really strengthening everything else and I hate to stop it as it makes me feel so good. I have also lost 2 1/2 inches in my waist! I also think it loosens up my IT band.  I even had an xray to make sure that nothing was wrong with the joint.  He is from Palmer and puts my hip back while I lay on my back with the chiro bed clunking while my knee is on my chest and he usually does the SI manually while I lay on my side with one leg straight and the top leg bent.  Do you have any tips on how I can keep both these joints staying in place/and or what to do or avoid?  Thanks SO much,

    Desperate J

    • Thanks Jackie!  Since you’re a course student, go ahead and post this inside the course somewhere and I’ll give you more detailed feedback there, OK?  Also if you’re up late night I’ve got office hours for call/skype in for students starting at 6pm EST which is midnight your time, I believe.

  9. Hi!!

    I am surfing the net for info to learn about my newly diagnosed condition, SI pain and found you!

    I am a 40 yo female, i have had two csections…last one was 2/2008. Both of my children were almost 9 lbs. i am very active and athletic. I weigh 142 lbs. and i am 5' 6" tall. On July 4th, 2013 I noticed that my lower back was sore and a little stiff when I would stand. That went on for another day but it did not affect my activity. Saturday morning, I leaned forward to pick up my cup of coffee, i felt pain then I could not move.  I noticed recently(the past month or two) that my hips felt tight so I would sit and do the stretch you showed sitting in the chair but I didn't do it often. It's painful tp go from sitting to standing and vice versa. My chiropractor says it my SI joint. I have a SI belt that I started using yesterday that has helped because it lessened the discomfort and makes me feel more secure when I walk. I am on Motrin every 6-8 hours to keep the inflammation down. I sleep on my back with my legs elevated through to my feet and that has been great with bringing able to get out of bed in the morning. Can I start these exercises now or do I need to wait until I feel more stable? Do you Reccomend any exercises to help stabilize my SI joints to fix the instability? This is all new and I have never had this before. Thanks so much! 

  10. Hi 🙂 

    Sir , the peroblem with me is that i had i scetaique injury it has been 2 years a go , I think i did well to recover and now i can do some exercices that i couldn't do befor . The problem now is sometimes when i stop sport and i resume it again or if i do a very big effort i feel pain and i can't sleep for 4 days like that . I  want to let you know that i do some hard exercices like push ups , pull ups shin ups …… I hope if you can give me some advices sir and thank u .

  11. Hello from the Netherlands,

    Just to let you know that your stretching exercices help me a lot …..I can again enjoy life after having so much pain. a warm thank you….



  12. I am trying to get username and password and have not been able to.  My username can be CalvinLeman and any password you give me as temporary.

    I am a PhD in biochemistry, now 72 years of age and keeping fit with nutrition, exercise, and care of my spine and other joints and muscles.

  13. Hi, I am happy to find this video (car accident several years ago, terrible hip/piriformis pain) – I can't even get my ankle across my knee while on the floor to do this and start to try to gain mobility/flexibility. Do you have a suggestion for interim stretching to get me to that point?

  14. Hi, I just tried this as my sciattica has been bad today and it does seem to help. I also get a sort of jolting through my spine when I walk. Any ideas?

  15. Hello there! Thank you so much for posting these stretching videos! I travel quite a bit for my job (Certified Orthotic Fitter). It’s not uncommon for me to have 12 to 14 hour days in my car. Anyway.. I’ve been suffering on and off since December 2014 of extreme glute, hip and leg pain. I have not seen a physician but with my knowledge, I have the tell tale signs of periformis tightness which is producing sciatic pain and a little bit of weakness down my left leg. My question to you is should I perform these stretches on BOTH sides? Even though I’m not experiencing pain on the right, I read that a lot of times the opposite side, the uneffected side, is what causes opposite side pain. I do feel a bit shifted. I can tell in my posture, and the way I walk. Could that be due to the tightness in my right side (the painful side) ? Also… how long do you hold the stretches and for how many reps/ times per day? Just to let you know, I performed the chair sitting stretch just once, and I already have so much relief!! Thank you!!

    • Correction on my post.. I have Left sided pain, not right sided.

      “Could that be due to the tightness in my right side (the painful side) ?”

    • If it helps and does not cause and reproduction of symptoms, it’s a reasonable stretch for both sides. But get yourself to a chiro or PT who is familiar with Mckenzie therapy for a solid functional diagnosis of what’s causing it to begin with.

  16. For the last 8 weeks I have suffered severe pain in my left buttock and down the leg due to a herniated S1 disc. A few weeks ago, I found this video demonstrating the modified piriformis stretch. It has helped relieve my pain to a great degree. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  17. I have been having shooting pain down the front and side of my right leg. Started with back pain but with Meds that has gone away. I still can barely walk with the shooting pain in front on thigh and numb knee. Is this sciatica since it is not in the back off leg at all.

    Would the piriformis exercise help that? Can I try walking with a knee brace to help with pain or will that hurt nerves more?

    Thank you!

Leave a Reply