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Piriformis Muscle Origin, Insertion, Action

Muscle Anatomy of the Piriformis

Origin: Attaches to the pelvic surface of the sacrum between the anterior sacral foramina, the margin of the greater sciatic foramen, and the sacrotuberous ligament
Insertion: Attaches to the superior margin of the greater trochanter of the femur.
Actions: Assists with external rotation and abduction of the thigh
Innervation: Nerve to piriformis (S1, S2)
Blood Supply: Inferior gluteal artery from the internal iliac artery

Piriformis Muscle Origin, Insertion, Actions, Innervation

Piriformis Muscle Actions With Agonists and Antagonists

Primary Actions of the Piriformis Muscle

The piriformis does not perform a primary action, it assists other muscles with movement of the thigh and hip stabilization.

Secondary Actions of the Piriformis:

1. Assists with external rotation of the thigh at the hip


  • Obturator Internus
  • Obturator Externus
  • Gemellus Superior
  • Gemellus Inferior
  • Quadratus Femoris


  • Tensor Fasciae Latae
  • Gluteus Minimus (anterior fibers)
  • Gluteus Medius (anterior fibers)

2. Assists with the abduction of the thigh at the hip when the hip is flexed


  • Gluteus Maximus (upper fibers)
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus


  • Adductor Longus
  • Adductor Brevis,
  • Adductor Magnus

Information about the cause and effect of piriformis muscle pain:

Piriformis Muscle: Back, Hip, Buttock, Pelvic, Thigh Pain



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Recommended Anatomy Books:

The Anatomy Coloring Book is one of the best study and reference books for beginning anatomy students. The diagrams are clearly labeled and allow you to see the relationship and placement of the various structures of the body. You will also be surprised by how the act of coloring will help with recall. But this is not just a beginners book, it is also great for practitioners and therapists to have on hand to use with clients and patients to use as a visual reference.

The Trail Guide To The Body is another excellent book to help you learn the musculature of the human body. Though the book is geared toward massage therapists and physical therapist assistants, the book with its illustrations and text helps anyone gain a thorough understanding of the human musculoskeletal system and movement. I highly recommend this book for anyone studying anatomy and believe that MTs, PTAs, and teachers of body movements should have this book in their possession. I also highly recommend this book for the layperson who wants to gain an understanding of the muscle, skeletal system and how our bodies move. This book will not disappoint!

Out of the scores of books in my office, Basic Clinical Massage Therapy is by far the most referenced book in my library. The musculoskeletal system is overlaid on human models allowing you to learn the precise location, origin, and insertions of each muscle. The models are pictured in various poses throughout the book which also helps you visualize muscles in motion and their actions relationship with the skeletal structure and other muscles. Though it is written for massage therapists, it is an excellent book for anyone who wants to learn about the muscular system. MT's will benefit from the recommended treatments for each muscle.


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