Heal your achey yoga body! TFW Portland

Hi, Coach Josh here at Training for Warriors Portland. We’re talking to you today about yoga, your butt and your body.

Now, I’m a huge fan of fitness in all its forms... and I even like yoga.

I like yoga a lot, actually! I think yoga is good for most people. In fact, if you could just take one thing from yoga- the breathing aspect and carry it into the rest of your life, it would change your life. It would change your health for the better. But lately, I’ve seen a lot of students who love yoga and are sort of "yoga addicts" present with a lot of back pain, knee pain or hip pain. 

Yoga in it of itself, is an activity that has some patterns that are used frequently in yoga. Think of a pelvic as a triangle representing the pelvis- this being the front, this being the back. Check out the video: 


A lot of the time, yoga has people forward flexing or stretching the posterior chain quite often (e.g. forward fold aka uttanasana) and when you do that, hamstrings get lengthened. So do glutes and the whole backside of your body. When you stretch something, you temporarily turn off that muscle. When you stretch something like the hamstrings and glutes... the quads (the antagonist of those muscle groups), get tight. The quads are already pretty strong and pretty tight for most people.

That (hamstring and glute stretch) pulls the pelvis forward and lengthens the hams even more. When you feel that tension in your hams, that tightness is very tempting to get a palliative effect or a sense of temporary relief from stretching your hams. And so a lot of people who already have tight hamstrings keeping stretching and stretching them, trying to get that feeling of tension to go away. 


Those sarcomeres (muscle fibers) are already stretched out.

And then you stretch them even tighter. And then the muscle relaxes--> produces less tension--> can’t contract and actually recover the sarcomeres. The sarcomeres don’t get to recover and then they’re not able to regenerate their energy. They end up dying and fading away, and you lose sarcomeres in that lengthened hamstring. As you lose sarcomeres, that means that the pelvis is pulled forward more, the posterior aspect of the pelvis is pulled higher... and sure enough, you get tighter hamstrings.


Impressive posterior flexibility! But remember to loosen your quads (in front), too.   This photo "Flickr - Nicholas T - Uttanasana" is copyright (c) 2011  Nicholas A. Tonelli  and made available under  Creative Commons   Attribution 2.0 Generic  license.

Impressive posterior flexibility! But remember to loosen your quads (in front), too. 

This photo "Flickr - Nicholas T - Uttanasana" is copyright (c) 2011 Nicholas A. Tonelli and made available under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


Now you gotta stretch again, right?! The intervention that you can use to end the cycle of destruction of your butt and hams, is to loosen up the quads a little bit. Some soft tissue work, maybe even some static stretching. If you’re not doing a lot of stretching of the quads, a little can go a long way. 

My point is:

If your back, butt, hip or knee hurts AND you’re a yoga addict, you might wanna take some time and do some weight lifting or strength training to really pump some life back into those glutes, into those hams... and really oppose the force of your anterior chain.

NOTE: When you do that, it will feel probably feel pretty difficult at first. Especially if you’ve been ignoring strength training for a long time. But what you will find is: your butt and hamstrings will be sore in a good way, you feel less pain, you feel less irritation and your body feels better and more balanced, in general.

That’s something I’ve observed to be helpful for friends and students in the past. If you’re having any of that pain, I suggest you try a few new things. I want everybody to have a healthy butt, a healthy back, and a healthy life.

This is Coach Josh, NOT bashing yoga in any direct way, but trying to help you bring out the warrior within!