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How to prevent Car Butt this holiday season

While in college, I was a member of the Dance Company, and I recall the day my dance teacher used the term "car butt" to explain the pain in the booty that can be caused by riding in the car for too long. She showed us some yoga stretches that truly helped to alleviate this pain.

Fast forward some years, I experienced "car butt" while I increased driving time for a job, sitting for longer than usual times in the car. I began having horrible tingles and pain in my right butt cheek, and would radiate down the leg a bit too. After self-massage using a trigger point ball, foam rolling and practiced hip opener yoga stretches, I got rid of my car butt pain and felt so much better.

With Thanksgiving and the holidays around the corner, you may be enduring more travel than usual, and so to help prevent car butt from becoming a pain in your a$$, here are some tips you may find helpful.

But first, what is the piriformis muscle?

The piriformis muscle is a pear shaped muscle that runs from the bottom of the sacrum to the top of the femur (thigh bone) called the greater trochanter. It helps to externally rotate the femur at the hip joint and assists in abduction of the femur at the hip joint.

the piriformis muscle

When this important muscle becomes overused or exhausted, it can tighten up and remain in a contracted state, causing a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms include pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks and down the leg, which may worsen after sitting for a long time, climbing stairs, walking, or running. If this little guy doesn't get any love or attention, it has the potential to turn into Piriformis Syndrome.

Piriformis syndrome usually starts with pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks. Pain can be severe and extend down the length of the sciatic nerve. The pain is due to the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve. (debate on this topic further down...)

So what can you do?

Like I mentioned before, I loved using the trigger point ball to release the areas of tension. Debate is out whether or not using a ball to "release" this muscle helps. Here is an interesting counter opinion by Lori Duncan about using a trigger point ball. I say, do whatever works for you. For me, it helped. But do your research before trying any new self massage tools or practice!

Some awesome stretches to help your car butt:

Reverse Pigeon Pose, the hip is flexed and externally rotated, which helps stretch the piriformis muscle.