Figure 4 Variations: How To Stretch the Piriformis Muscle


The figure 4 is an excellent stretch for the buttocks and specifically the piriformis. It is also, one of the first stretches I remember being taught.

The exercise called the ‘figure 4’, was first introduced to me in high school track and field practice, freshman year. A varsity team leader called out the stretch.


In a seated position, she crossed her ankle across the opposite bent knee. We sat in a circle and counted for 30 seconds each side.

I go back to the memory every time I show “figure 4 “ to a client.

Benefits of stretching piriformis muscle:

-relieves hip and low back tension
-improves hip mobility
-helps prevent injury
-speeds up the recovery process
-facilitates healing

TIPS: *Do this after a brief warm up (ex. walking, hip circles)

*Keep your navel in toward the spine.

*Breathe deeply through the nose.

*Stay for 5 breaths each side (inhale/exhale=1)

The figure 4 stretch can be achieved in various positions.

Back on the floor

Seated on the floor

Seated in a chair


I show different versions of the same stretch because there may be a situation where each version is handy. I have also noticed, some variations are easier to get into depending on the individual.

See a recent video I did using 4 figure 4 variations:

To learn more stretches, sign up for my exercise video membership subscription.

Thank you for reading this blog! Please share your experience with the figure 4 stretch in the comments section below.



  • I just saw your YouTube video from several years back and I left a comment asking about other stretches for the Piriformis muscle. I am going to try and do most of the stretches and download the material you have here on your blog. Thanks for taking time to help out people with this problem, it is a pain in the butt. Lol. Thanks for your professionalism in your field of expertise.

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