I have a lot of pain in my buttock that runs down my leg. I've been told by other dancers to keep stretching and/or do nothing but ice and rest. What do you suggest?
First, I believe what you are describing can be classified as piriformis syndrome, a condition where the piriformis muscle (the largest of the six deep lateral rotators) irritates the sciatic nerve. This nerve typically passes underneath the piriformis muscle, but in about 15 percent of the population the nerve goes through the piriformis muscle, increasing its potential for trouble.
Resting and stretching in order to decrease inflammation in the area is good advice. In the nondance community, that is often enough to promote healing. With dancers, though, you need to look at the bigger picture and analyze how turnout is created. When dancers overwork the rotators, it causes excessive tension in these muscles, which can then compress the sciatic nerve, creating pain. Balance in the rotators is important and will help you heal. Check out the article on this topic in the July 2017 issue of Dance Teacher magazine!
To your success,
Director, The Body Series
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