The Piriformis muscle and lumbopelvic injuries
Control and stability of the lumbopelvic region is critical for force transmission between the lower extremity and spine. Previous studies have shown that motor control training in the lumbopelvic complex can be an effective strategy for reducing the frequency of low back and lower extremity injuries in elite athletes.
Considering its role as a deep hip stabilizer, the authors set out to examine the relationship that the Piriformis muscle has with low back pain (LBP) and lower limb injuries. Overall it was shown that motor control training positively affected the piriformis muscle size and that size was also affected by the presence or absence of low back pain.
46 Australian football players were included in a motor control programme 30 minutes twice a week for 7-8 weeks and randomised according to a three group single-blinded design. Piriformis muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) was assessed using a magnetic resonance imager (MRI) at 3 time points during the season. Assessment of LBP consisted of physical exam and patient report.
Considering its important role in rotation and abduction of the lower extremity the piriformis has the potential to dramatically alter distal lower extremity biomechanics. Prior to this study no research had shown a relationship between LBP or lower limb injuries and the Piriformis muscle.
Results of the study showed that LBP affected the Piriformis muscle CSA during the playing season, suggesting that the presence of LBP during the season may affect the muscles ability to respond to the athlete’s physical demands. Furthermore, it was shown that players with a relative smaller CSA had higher odds of sustaining a severe lower limb injury during the playing season.
Taken together, the authors have shown that a motor control program can positively affect the CSA of the Piriformis muscle. With enhanced motor control training showing a reduction in the lower limb injuries it is likely there is an enhancement in control of the entire kinetic chain.
> From: Leung et al., J Sci Med Sport (2016) 5(Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd. Click here for the Pubmed summary.