Yoga and hamstring strains
What is a hamstring pull?
Hamstring strain (pulled hamstring) � Hamstrings are the longest muscles in the body. They extend down the back of the thigh. Because hamstrings work to pull back the leg and bend the knee, they can be injured during running, kicking or jumping. They can also be injured by over stretching. As in gastrocnemius strain, you may feel a pop, usually at the back of the thigh, when the muscle tears.
In yoga, this pull usually happens when the core of the muscle does not stretch sufficiently, forcing the origin of the muscle to over-stretch. The origin of the muscle is where the muscle becomes a tendon, such as where the hamstring meets the sacrum.
How to prevent hamstring strains in yoga?
Steps to care for a hamstring pull
Once injured, it sometimes takes months to heal from a bad hamstring pull. Reinjury is common if you are not careful. As a result, taking the right steps to care for the strain is essential:
1. Rest.Rest is always key for any muscle pull, especially for the weeks right after it has happened.
2. Ice. Icing the pull is helpful in keeping the swelling and inflammation down. Generally it is recommended to ice for 15 minutes a time, a few times a day. It is also good to ice immediately after using the muscle.
3. Compression. A little massage and compression of the muscle can be good. However, if you are not experienced at doing this, it is best to visit a professional, such as a physical therapist.
4. Elevation. If the pull is serious and swollen, it is good to elevate the leg and stay off of it until the acute pain and swelling diminishes.
5. Anti-inflammatories. Ibuprofen, in products such as Advil or Aleve, helps to reduce inflammation. However, be careful to limit intake of these as they can upset the lining of the stomach.
6. Contract surrounding muscles. Engage the muscles around the hamstring through strengthening exercises. Tightening and contracting buttocks muscles above the hamstring pull will help relieve the pressure on the hamstring muscle and give it a rest.
7. Roll out the muscle. After the injury has significantly healed, it is often helpful to sit on a hard tennis ball to roll out the scared or tense part of the hamstring. However, avoid doing this if the hamstring injury is still in its acute phase.
Yoga poses that make a sore hamstring worse
First, try to identify what triggered the hamstring injury. If it was a pose in yoga, it is important to understand what you might be doing wrong in the pose. It is possible you are relying on hamstring strength, when you should be using more quadracep strength. If you can re-trace the cause of the hamstring pull, you are more likely to adjust a posture to prevent the injury from getting worse or happening again.
Yoga poses that improve a hamstring pull
In general, the best way to improve an over-stretching in one direction, is to flex in the opposite direction. Over-stretching a muscle or tendon weakens it, and to strengthen a weak muscle, you need to contract it. Asanas that contract the part of the hamstring that connects with the ischial tuberosity are as follows. (Note that these postures require a tucking of the tailbone and a pulling in of the sacrum toward the pelvis, this forces a contraction of the buttocks muscles and the muscles above and around the hamstring):