Stretching & Flexibility/Piriformis Stretch


Hi Brad,
         Its Rick again. I understand that the piriformis is an external rotator of the hip. It seems, though, that thinking was somewhat skewed because I have been always attempting to bring the greater trochanter (piriformis insertion point) across the body to produce internal rotation of the hip. When reviewing difference stretches for the piriformis that say to place the hip in "external" rotation before stretching. This seems contradictory. Why would you do this? My only guess would be that the external rotated position would allow one to pull the origin away from the insertion site. The recumbent hip external rotator stretch (with crossed leg)comes to mind. Could you help clarify how the different stretches  work?

Hi Rick,

You're actually on the right track. Because the piriformis inserts at the greater trochanter of the femur, and the greater trochanter sticks out from the hip joint, the piriformis can be manipulated in more than one direction. So it's a little more complex than a traditional joint, like the knee joint for example, where the quads extend the knee so to stretch the qauds you need to flex the knee joint.

You'll still get the best piriformis stretch from those positions where the hip is in internal rotation and adduction, but you'll also get a secondary stretch from other positions as well.

I hope the above has been helpful. For more information on stretching, flexibility and sports injury management, visit Injury Fix.

Brad Walker
Founder & CEO
Injury Fix™

Stretching & Flexibility

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Brad Walker (The Stretch Coach)


I'm more than happy to answer any questions relating to stretching, flexibility and sports injury management. Including how to use stretching to improve your athletic performance, prevent sports injury and aid in the recovery of sports injury.


I'm an internationally recognized stretching and sports injury consultant with more than 20 years of practical experience in the health and fitness industry. I'm also the founder of the Stretching Institute and

Sports Medicine Australia

I've written 5 books on stretching, flexibility and sports injury, including... The Stretching Handbook (ISBN: 978-0958109338), The Anatomy of Stretching (ISBN: 978-1556435966) and The Anatomy of Sports Injuries (ISBN: 978-1556436666). Plus, I've had numerous articles published at, and

I'm a health science graduate of the University of New England, with post graduate accreditation's in athletics, swimming and triathlon coaching. I've worked with elite level and world champion athletes and I've lectured for Sports Medicine Australia on sports injury prevention and treatment.

Past/Present Clients
I've worked as assistant coach to Miles Stewart (World Champion Triathlete) and Mick Doohan (World 500cc Motorcycle Champion). Plus I've worked with countless other athletes from sports as diverse as roller-skating, squash, and cycling.

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