What is Yoga Butt Anyway?
“Yoga butt” is a broad term to explain gluteal tendinopathy or proximal hamstring tendinopathy.
What is -> Tendinopathy? It occurs when a repetitive load is placed on a tendon without adequate recovery. Yoga Butt is specifically referring to an irritation or inflammation of the hamstring tendons at their attachment site on the ischial tuberosity (the sitting bone).
In the yoga world, ‘proximal hamstring tendinopathy’ is the one that tends to show up the most, due to all the forward folds and split variations that our hamstrings go through during a practice. Since tendons have a limited amount of elasticity, these kinds of poses can cause the tendons to become overstretched and irritated. (see below example)
Hamstring tendinopathy is not just an overuse injury, but also an underloading issue, which means -> The tissues haven’t been subjected to enough challenge and have therefore lost their ability to tolerate the stress of certain movements or joint positions, resulting in pain and irritation (aka poor function). So in simple terms they need to be strengthened not just stretched.
How do you know you have it? -> It typically presents as pain around the sit bones but can radiate down the back of the thigh. A deep, dull ache that has you grabbing where your bum meets your thigh. In worse versions it can effect even the most simple movements, like sitting down, literally anytime the top of the hamstring is asked to lengthen.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT…?
# 1 tip - STRENGTHEN YOUR HAMMY’s!!! yoga poses generally doesn’t incorporate hamstring strengthening. Combined with frequent and sometimes extreme stretching, this can exacerbate the issue and cause overall function and load tolerance to decrease.
Start to incorporate strengthening exercises. In fact “Isometric exercises are proven to provide an analgesic effect (aka pain relief) for tendons. So think holding bridge pose, (with heels further away from body), holding for 60 seconds each and allowing a 90 second recovery per round. You can then progress this load and move up to exercises like single leg bridges, hamstring curls, heel slide outs, crab walks you name it.
Weak hamstrings also often means weak glutes.. So getting those strong will also help!
#2 tip - RECOVERY: When you feel like you have maxed out your efforts and your body is telling you to take a break, LISTEN. You will know this when a certain area is slow to fire, or respond to the movements you are asking of it. You are very sore or felt the beginning stages of a ‘bad pain’ sensation. Tendons do not like to be stretched when they are inflamed and recovering. So switch it up and do something different. This may mean modifying things for awhile.
#3 tip - Myofascial or Trigger Release therapies can be helpful to release tension in surrounding muscles to help your body start to function as a cohesive until.
With the body we always need to incorporate the YIN to the YANG. Strength compliments length. Rest compliments Action. Make sure you are seeing both sides when it comes to working with in the body.