And it's not just the piriformis that needs a little TLC: Tight hip flexors compound the problem by making the piriformis muscles work harder, causing them to tighten and pinch the sciatic nerve. "That's why it's so important to stretch, stretch, stretch the hips—once you release the piriformis muscle, you take the pressure off the nerve, which can lessen the pain and keep it from coming back. Foam rolling the hip rotator can also help to release some of that tension and minimize pain."
Start by doing these moves at least three times a week. Once you've gotten rid of the pain, keep doing the exercises at least once a week to keep it from coming back.
Related: 12 Hip-Opening Yoga Poses
Reclined Pigeon With Prep Stretch
Lie face-up and bend your knees so your heels are right under your knees. Take your hands to the front of your thighs, slide them to the root of the leg where it meets your pelvis, and push the heel of each hand into the bottom of the leg bone. Lift your right leg up and cross over the left. With a small curve in your back, grab the back of your thighs and push your legs into your hands, away from your face. Hold for several deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Reclining Cow's Face Pose
Lie face-up and cross your left leg over your right. Raise both legs off the floor, flex both feet, and reach up for the outer ankles, hugging your legs toward your belly. Spread your toes, keep your feet flexed, and hold your legs in for several breaths. Slowly switch to the other side and repeat.
Start in a runner's lunge, right leg forward with knee over ankle and left knee on ground with top of your foot flat on the mat. Slowly lift torso and rest hands lightly on right thigh. Lean hips forward slightly, keeping right knee behind toes, and feel the stretch in the left hip flexor. Hold here, or for a deeper stretch, raise arms overhead, biceps by ears. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.
Related: The 10-Minute Gentle Yoga Routine That Can Help You Lose Weight
Start in a runner's lunge with right leg forward, right knee over right ankle and back leg straight. Walk right foot over toward left hand, then drop right shin and thigh to the floor, making sure to keep right knee in line with right hip. Allow the left leg to rest on the floor with the top of your left foot facing down. Take a moment to square your hips to the front of the room. Hold here, or hinge at hips and lower torso toward floor, allowing head to rest on forearms. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side. You want to feel a moderate stretch in the outside of the right thigh, but if this pose hurts your knees or feels too uncomfortable, stick with Thread the Needle.
If most inner-thigh openers feel too easy (and your ankles and knees are injury-free), try Frog Pose. Get down on all fours, with palms on the floor and your knees on blankets or a mat (roll your mat lengthwise, like a tortilla, and place it under your knees for more comfort). Slowly widen your knees until you feel a comfortable stretch in your inner thighs, keeping the inside of each calf and foot in contact with the floor. Make sure to keep your ankles in line with your knees. Lower down to your forearms. Stay here for at least 30 seconds.
Foam Roll For Hip Rotator
Sit on the foam roller with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Lean your torso back and place right hand on the floor, shifting weight into right hip and crossing right ankle over left thigh. Place your left hand on your left thigh. Use your supporting foot and hand to roll from the bottom of the glutes to the pelvic bone. Continue rolling back and forth for 30 to 60 seconds.
This article originally appeared on Prevention.