Methods to Forestall (and Recuperate From) This Frequent Yoga Damage

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A number of years in the past, I used to be into aerial dance, which is the gorgeous—and difficult—act of lifting, twirling, and hanging from colourful silks whereas posing such as you’re a Cirque du Soleil dancer. One afternoon throughout a two-hour follow session, after the flying portion of sophistication, we have been stretching on the mat. Whereas I used to be in full splits, my teacher positioned his palms on my hips and adjusted (or relatively manhandled) my place. One second my left hip bone (the iliac, to be exact) was behind my proper hip. The subsequent, my hips have been forcibly shoved side-by-side. Since my hips have been on the bottom, they have been unable to switch round that pull, leading to a dramatic tugging on my proper hamstring and a shearing power utilized to that tendon the place it connects to the bone. Yikes.

The ensuing ache wasn’t on the spot. However it did develop into relentless. I skilled a nagging, recurring ache slightly below my proper sit bone for the higher a part of two years. Even in the present day, that ache is current every time I transfer too shortly right into a hamstring stretch or ahead bend.

What most probably occurred that day is one in every of my hamstring tendons suffered a partial tear. The ensuing power ache I skilled is called proximal hamstring tendonitis (PHT or tendinopathy for brief), additionally generally known as “yoga butt.” It may be brought on by repetitive overuse, forcing a stretch when the muscle is “chilly,” or by a jarring power (induced right here by my aerial trainer’s so-called “adjustment”). Whereas runners and athletes typically expertise such a power damage, it’s also frequent in populations who recurrently and deeply stretch the hamstrings, like yogis. This explains why PHT is also called yoga butt—to not be confused with a sculpted bottom.

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The operate and anatomy of the hamstrings

The hamstrings are a bunch of muscle mass which are key gamers in flexing (bending) your knee throughout yoga and increasing your hip (taking your leg away out of your physique, similar to within the again leg if you end up in a lunge). It’s extremely concerned not solely in athletic endeavors however in on a regular basis strolling. Due to this, nearly anybody can endure from irritation of a hamstring tendon.

There are three hamstring muscle mass, and every connects to the skeleton on the ischial tuberosity (which is lovingly and seemingly ubiquitously referred to in yoga courses because the “sit bone”). By design, the hamstring tendons are fairly thick and powerful with the intention to join muscle to bone securely. Nonetheless, additionally they function a bottleneck, since they join the big muscle mass of the thighs at a comparatively pinpointed location on the skeletal construction. That’s a part of the issue.

Tendons will not be as vascular as muscle mass, which means that they don’t have as many blood vessels. That’s excellent news in that it makes these connective tissues stronger. Nonetheless, it’s dangerous information when it comes to therapeutic, as a result of they recuperate at a a lot slower fee than muscular tissue.

Methods to Forestall (and Recuperate From) This Frequent Yoga Damage
(Picture: (Picture: shutterstock.com/Hank Grebe))

While you really feel the stretch within the heart of your thigh—the “stomach” of the hamstring—that’s an excellent factor. Nonetheless, whenever you really feel a tug solely on the sit bone, the worth of that stretch comes into query. Fortunately, with some consciousness of biomechanics and motion theories, you possibly can proceed to refine your follow to be safer in the long run.  Yoga poses that stretch the hamstrings embrace ahead bends similar to Uttanasana (Standing Ahead Bend), Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose), Paschimottanasana (Seated Ahead Bend), and Upavistha Konasana (Huge-Angled Seated Ahead Bend).

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What’s yoga butt?

Yoga butt, or tendonitis of the proximal hamstring, usually presents as an ache or recurring ache deep within the gluteal area. Whereas anybody can expertise it, the prevalence of yoga butt in yoga college students is simple. It is smart. Yoga’s tendency to maneuver the physique and stretch in a number of instructions means that you could be initially discover an ache whereas practising. Moreover, whenever you attempt to power poses in yoga, or follow with no correct warmup, it could actually truly trigger accidents in inclined our bodies.

To be honest, there are a number of totally different potential causes of ache on this area, together with piriformis syndrome, a hamstring tear, or the numbing or tingling sensation of a pinched nerve, explains Dr. Loren Fishman, an MD at Prema Yoga Institute and the creator of Therapeutic Yoga. Every of those circumstances needs to be approached with a special therapeutic modality. Moderately than self-diagnose (as I confess I did), all the time seek the advice of with a healthcare skilled for those who expertise ache, so you possibly can discern the supply and perceive learn how to tackle it.

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Methods to forestall—and get well from—yoga butt

With some consciousness of biomechanics and sound motion theories, it’s potential to refine your follow to assist forestall yoga butt. In the event you’re experiencing ache, and the trigger is tendonitis, particularly yoga butt, there are specific modifications you can also make in your follow to make sure you don’t worsen the irritation. Moreover, secure cueing can (in idea) assist forestall yoga butt in college students.

Don’t rush (or skip) your warmup

It’s crucial to heat up the muscle mass earlier than asking—or demanding—that they lengthen. The science of stretching reveals a relationship between your muscle mass and spinal wire that’s designed to guard your muscle mass. When the size or rigidity in a muscle modifications abruptly, the muscle spindle—a receptor positioned within the stomach of a muscle—instantly sends a message to the spinal wire, which in flip indicators the muscle to contract. This not solely results in a scarcity in vary of movement, but when the hamstrings contract when you’re making an attempt to stretch them too shortly, a few of that rigidity may journey to the tendons, inflicting connective tissue pressure. This might result in yoga butt.

Conversely, after we progressively improve stress on the muscle mass and connective tissue by means of gradual or passive stretching (i.e., Uttanasana or Standing Ahead Bend with the knees generously bent), then the muscle will naturally respect its limits. As a vinyasa and gradual movement trainer, I rely closely on gradual, accessible, and repetitive actions in a warm-up to securely put together the muscle mass for lengthening. This strategy can forestall damage within the tendons. In the event you’re in restoration from yoga butt, transferring slowly and mindfully provides you time to hearken to and respect your physique’s response.

Methods to: Start your follow or class with actions that slowly bend and straighten your knee and progressively introduce size into the hamstrings (ie, Low Lunges).

Normalize utilizing tools

The phrase “props” implies that you simply want help. I desire to say “tools,” a time period I’m borrowing from my co-teacher Jon Witt. I deliver blocks beneath the palms in a Low Lunge warmup earlier than directing a pupil to inhale and lengthen their entrance leg in direction of a Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose), then exhale and bend once more in a gradual movement. If blocks aren’t accessible, a stack of books works nicely. Even utilizing the directive to “lengthen” the leg as a substitute of “straighten” can subtly empower college students to be extra engaged within the means of stretching relatively than fixated on “straight” because the endgame.

Methods to Forestall (and Recuperate From) This Frequent Yoga Damage
(Picture: Andrew Clark; Clothes: Calia)

I additionally discover that utilizing blocks on their highest degree beneath the fingertips in Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III Pose) provides college students an opportunity to see how tools can refine their alignment and contribute to their power. The blocks generally is a steadying device for the standing leg, which requires that the hamstrings lengthen. College students are inspired to keep away from locking out the knee by retaining a slight bend within the standing knee.

Modify your expectations (and your cues)

With just a few changes, academics can regulate the phrases they use to cue college students to develop into typically safer in a bunch yoga class. Though there’s an excessive quantity of biodiversity within the human physique, significantly within the hips, these tried-and-true ideas are helpful for many our bodies:

Barely bend the knees throughout ahead fold transitions

Within the basic Surya Namaskar A (Solar Salutation A), you progress from arms over your head (Urdhva Hastasana or Upward Salute) to folding ahead at your hips (Uttanasana or Standing Ahead Bend). In case your knees are locked or hyperextended, this hinges the motion proper throughout the sit bones space—on the very level the place the hamstring connectors bottleneck at their origin—and there’s a pull at each ends of the hamstrings. This rigidity can develop into much more strained if the practitioner tends to flare out the seat and/or arch the decrease again in a “swan dive.” All of those actions stretch, or doubtlessly pressure, what’s known as the “posterior chain,” which is the lengthy myofascial line of muscle mass and connective tissue in our again physique.

As a substitute, have that  well-known “microbend” within the knees whereas folding. When instructing, I talk about retaining the knees energetic – not locked, not deeply bent, however energetic –  in order that the legs are engaged within the pose.

Have interaction the quadriceps

One other technique to enable the hamstrings as a bunch to stretch and lengthen is to recruit their agonist, or opposing muscle group. While you lengthen (straighten) your entrance knee in a pose similar to Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), the opposing muscle group to the hamstrings is the quadriceps. If the nervous system suspects you would possibly lose your steadiness, it’ll instinctively contract muscle mass, such because the hamstrings, even whenever you’re actively lengthening them. That transfers extra rigidity to the tendons. However when the nervous system is aware of that one thing is holding you up—on this case the quads when engaged in a triangle pose—then the hamstrings get the trace and lengthen.

How do you interact the quads or cue college students to take action? Raise your kneecaps in direction of your hips.

Methods to Forestall (and Recuperate From) This Frequent Yoga Damage
Have interaction your quads when doing Triangle Pose to elongate your hamstrings.
(Picture: Andrew Clark; Clothes: Calia)

Make it straightforward for the hamstrings tendon

One factor that helped my restoration was discovering methods to launch the hamstrings with out exerting any pulling or tugging on the proximal tendon.

One strategy taken by motion execs and therapists is to wrap a TheraBand or yoga strap just under the crease of the seat earlier than practising ahead bends. A less-intense modification you possibly can strive is to roll a hand towel and, earlier than practising a seated ahead bend similar to Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Ahead Bend), place the roll on the prime of your thigh just under your seat. You’ll be able to play with the quantity of stress by modifying how thick the towel roll is. This tourniquet impact is assumed to forestall the tendon from lengthening any extra as you lean ahead. This manner, the lengthening is constrained to the muscle—which was made to elongate—whereas giving the connective tissue time to relaxation.

Methods to Forestall (and Recuperate From) This Frequent Yoga Damage
You need to use towels or blankets to help you in Janu Sarasana (Head-to-Knee Ahead Bend) to guard your tendon.
(Picture: Eleanor Williamson)

Personally, I’ve discovered that this method brings an analogous feeling as that of an excellent therapeutic massage, and once I launch the towel out from beneath me, I sense a heat movement by means of the realm. Typically talking, blood movement and synovial fluid motion within the space round a restoration are thought-about useful to the therapeutic course of (after your caregiver has cleared you for motion, in fact!). Making use of light stress to tissue after which releasing it might improve blood movement within the space very like in a therapeutic massage.


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The significance of constructing power to keep away from yoga butt

We’ve mentioned learn how to modify the stretching side of the bodily follow of yoga, however asana can also be a conscious act of strengthening through which we be taught to bear and elevate our physique weight, and to narrate to the earth in methods that may construct phenomenal power in our tissues.

“Throughout the scope of instructing yoga, two normal guidelines of thumb are good to bear in mind. The primary is that strengthening an space of generalized ache (versus passively stretching) can typically work wonders,” explains Jesal Parikh, who teaches anatomy at Prema Yoga Institute. “And the second is that ache is complicated. Our specialty as yoga academics is in providing holistic mind-body practices that may go a good distance in addressing the various components that go into how and why we really feel ache.” First, let’s have a look at learn how to particularly strengthen this line, then evaluation  yogic mindfulness practices that assist handle sensation throughout restoration.

Energy-building alternatives in asana

There are lots of delicate modifications you can also make inside your asana follow to interact—and thereby strengthen— the hamstrings. A number of the under solutions additionally goal the glutes, that are key synergists in hip extension:

Methods to Forestall (and Recuperate From) This Frequent Yoga Damage
(Picture: Andrew Clark; Clothes: Calia)

Ṣalabhāsana (Locust Pose)

Preserve your legs straight and the massive toes touching one another. You don’t want to elevate the legs a lot in any respect to really feel this!

Methods to Forestall (and Recuperate From) This Frequent Yoga Damage
(Picture: Andrew Clark; Clothes: Calia)

Vīrabhadrāsana III (Warrior III Pose)

Internally rotate the lifted leg by turning your inside thigh in direction of the ceiling. Raise the again heel so it’s parallel with the glutes.

Methods to Forestall (and Recuperate From) This Frequent Yoga Damage
(Picture: Andrew Clark; Clothes: Calia)

Vīrabhadrāsana I (Warrior I Pose), Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge), and Excessive Lunge

Press your entrance heel down into the mat and isometrically draw it again to really feel if the glutes interact extra.

Methods to Forestall (and Recuperate From) This Frequent Yoga Damage
Clothes: Calia (Picture: Andrew Clark)

Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

You knew this was coming! Attempt sitting your seat again and down so far as you possibly can within the pose with out letting your knees jut in entrance of your ankles. Consider wrapping the deep muscle mass round your sit bones. This wrapping motion feels such as you’re making a fist round your sit bones.

Methods to Forestall (and Recuperate From) This Frequent Yoga Damage
(Picture: Andrew Clark; Clothes: Calia)

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

Play with grounding your heels firmly down and isometrically drawing them both in direction of your seat or in direction of each other. Really feel what motion finest activates the glutes in your physique.

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How mindfulness might make it easier to mitigate your yoga butt ache

Throughout the entire above, hold your breath deep and constant to launch pointless rigidity. The breath is the bridge to mindfulness in postures, and a physiological quick monitor to down-regulating our nervous system.

As Jesal reminds us, yoga is a holistic follow. Conscious motion, yoga nidra, and meditation are all utilized by practitioners to hearken to and handle sensations. Take into account integrating yoga nidra into your follow—taking time to scan the physique, observe, and launch any pointless rigidity. Contemplative practices like yoga nidra and yin can solely assist in the therapeutic course of, awakening the Parasympathetic Nervous System response often known as “relaxation, digest, and heal.”

My academics all the time jogged my memory that we aren’t our ache—any greater than we’re our worst moments. Within the yoga philosophy of the Yoga Sutras, it’s taught that our true nature is one thing way more lasting than our passing ideas. Preserve practising mindfulness or meditation, in any kind, together with these moments the place you don’t but see the outcomes of your follow.

In regards to the creator

Dana Slamp, C-IAYT, ERYT500, is an authorized Ayurvedic yoga therapist and the founding father of Prema Yoga Institute in New York Metropolis and on-line. She studied with Dr. Marc Halpern, Guru Dharam, LAcc, Leslie Kaminoff, Gurmukh, Yogi Charu, and extra. Dana’s love of yoga is boundless and extends throughout therapeutic strategies like yoga nidra and restorative.

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