Hamstring Pain at the Sit Bones?
Hamstring pain affects many people, including many with a regular yoga practice. Improper and unengaged performance of asanas can definitely cause injury which is why it is so important that we study healthy asana embodiment and stay aware of our breath and sensations.
The hamstrings are a group of three muscles on the back of the thigh that connect the pelvis to the knee and are responsible for hip extension, knee flexion, and keeping the body upright and stable. They attach at the ischial tuberosity, or ‘sit bones’ which is the lower part of the ischium. The ischium is the bony protrusion beneath the pelvis that bears the body’s weight while seated.
One of the most common places to feel hamstring pain is under the buttocks, or at the sit bones. This condition can more formally be referred to as ‘proximal tendon injury’, or hamstring tendonitis. Damage to the proximal tendons will cause pain in hamstring stretches such as half-split and forward folds, and will be especially pronounced in wide legged forward folds. The pain may also be felt when walking, climbing stairs, or running.
Could this be from yoga?
In some forward bends and hamstring stretches, the correct muscles may not engage enough for protection. In this case, rather than the belly of the muscle stretching, the tendon gives way. Tiny tears can destroy blood capillaries and break down the collagen in the tendon. If adequate time is taken to rest, this may heal. However, if you keep practicing and pushing through this kind of pain, more little tears build up faster than the body can repair them and scar tissue forms. The more scar tissue builds up, the weaker the tendon gets, causing inflammation and soreness. The scar tissue actually limits blood circulation to the area, causing further damage and making it less likely to heal.
People with over-flexible hammies are more likely to suffer from this issue as well as dedicated yoga practitioners and teachers. Astanga, for instance, is a very dedicated and physically demanding practice, traditionally practiced six days a week. When teaching, we may demo poses rather quickly, and may not always be properly warmed up to do so.
-Do not overarch the lumbar spine in forward folds.
-Engage hamstrings and quads as you bend forward.
-Always remain present during sadhana to be aware of your body’s signals and sensations.
-Always keep a micro bend to the knee during hamstring stretches.
-Do not force yourself into a pose. Yoga is meant to open the body like a blooming flower, gently and patiently.
-Allow yourself to modify for accessibility and comfort. Use appropriate props and alignment. Our bodies change daily, so always tailor each practice to serve you at that moment in time.
If you are experiencing hamstring pain at the ischial tuberosity, it may help to take some time to explore gentle asanas that do not cause pain, use ice, and see a doctor as needed. Certain exercises can help prevent injury.
*Lie on your belly and draw in your abdomen. Engage your right hamstrings and glute as if you're going to lift in Salabasana, (locust pose) but don't lift the foot. Hold for ten breaths and release. Repeat on the left side.
*Lay on your back and place your right heel on a block. Flex your foot and press your heel down. Hold for ten breaths and release. Repeat on the left side.
Please be advised that I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Please consult your doctor or physical therapist as needed.
Thanks for reading and happy hammies to all!