Movement Habits and their Effect on Yoga Practice
By Niki Vetten
There are three particular movement habits in asana practice that either cause or indicate problems with the hips: These will be covered in detail in separate posts, to keep posts shorter
1. Allowing the hip to push out to the side and not maintaining a level pelvis in the horizontal plane – lateral pelvic tilt 2. Hinging from the hips when folding forwards from a standing position or returning to an upright stance from a forward fold. 3. Arching the back and maintaining anterior pelvic tilt in your movements
It’s common for yoga-practitioners to develop weak Gluteal muscles from these habits because there are many muscles in the hip area that can be used to create the same movements and the result is overuse of some muscles and weakness of others. Weak Gluteal muscles cause instability of the Sacroiliac joint, because the muscle fibres of the Gluteus Maximus have attachments to the Sacroiliac ligaments down the length of the Sacrum. These muscles are further weakened and damaged through excessive stretching.
It’s important to remember that if specific movements and asanas are practiced with very little variation and no consideration is given to correcting habitual misalignments, muscle imbalances develop and quickly become painful. Sometimes professional treatment improves the pain but then the problems return because movement habits haven’t changed. The fastest way to resolve muscle-imbalance is with corrective exercises from someone who has assessed your movements and muscle strength but a long-term improvement depends on becoming aware of how you move and maintaining that awareness as you practice.
The process of reciprocal inhibition also creates weak hip muscles – please refer to Reciprocal Inhibition and Hips for an explanation of how hip muscles are weakened by particular asana sequences. ‘Yoga butt’ or Ischial Tendonitis is common in Ashtanga practice and is an example of reciprocal inhibition. An analysis of ‘yoga butt’ follows the posts on movement habits
Reading Sources: Kendall, Mc Creary, Provance, 1993, Muscles, Testing and Function De Franca, 1996, Pelvic Locomotor Dysfunction Ellenbecker, De Carlo, DeRosa, 2009, Effective Functional Progressions in Sport Rehabilitation
Author: Niki Vetten
Visit Niki’s Website: Yoga Anatomy for the Perplexed
Here are some of the other articles posted here by Nikki Vetten:
- Lower Back Pain and Alignment March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten Another cause of lower back pain is found in the alignment of the left and right sides of the body, some bodies are structurally asymmetrical: one leg is shorter than the other, or the pelvic halves are different sizes, people can be born that way, or their structure can be altered by bone ...
- Hip and Hamstring Flexibility March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten Hamstrings and hips get a lot of stretching in yoga, because everyone wants to do Hanumanasana, and also get their feet behind their heads, preferably both feet at the same time. For many, this will never happen, precisely because they try so hard and focus only on one set of muscles without understanding ...
- Lateral Pelvic Tilt in Yoga Practice March 9, 2013 By Niki Vetten When the hips are can’t be held level in a horizontal plane while standing on one leg, lateral pelvic tilt occurs, caused by weakness of the Hip abductor muscles, especially the Gluteus Medius. The pelvis tilts down to one side and the head of the Femur is pushed outwards. This is called Trendelenburg ...
- Practising Through Pain and Injury in Yoga March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten Many athletes and many athletic yogis who experience pain believe that they should keep right on with what they are doing, and hope that the pain will eventually disappear. This is very short-sighted, especially if pain is not associated with a specific injury. Pain without a specific injury is often a sign of muscle ...
- Sacroiliac Joints and Yoga March 11, 2013 By Niki Vetten Sacroiliac problems are common in yoga – Chiropractors consider the Sacroiliac joint to be the most common cause of lower back pain, more prevalent than disc problems. The Sacroiliac joint is believed to act as a shock absorber between the legs and the spine and although its movements are very small, restrictions at ...