Constipation and piriformis muscle: How exercising your buttocks can ease the discomfort


Sitting on the toilet for a prolonged period can press the piriformis muscles against the sciatic nerve, said Dr Ang, and worsen the pain, numbness and/or tingling sensation. “The lean-forward position that most people assume when on the toilet seat adds even more pressure on the sciatic nerve.”

You are less likely to feel those sensations when sitting on a chair as the softer cushioning under your buttocks helps to reduce the strain, she said. Your “body weight on the gluteal region is also dispersed over a larger surface area on a chair than on a toilet seat”, said Tan.

To help you loosen and relax tight piriform muscles – and hopefully ease the congestion in the bathroom – there are stretches that can “take the compression off an irritated sciatic nerve”, said Tan.

“Strengthening exercises for other hip muscles, especially those that control abduction, extension and external rotations, are equally important as they will help to distribute the mechanical forces optimally across the lower body and reduce strain on the piriformis muscle.”

Tan recommends these two stretches and two strengthening exercises for your piriformis muscles. “The repetitions, duration and frequency are recommendations,” he said. “If you experience moderate or severe pain before, during or after the exercise, stop. Seek medical advice from qualified healthcare professionals as necessary.”