Tightness in your hamstrings after yoga is often painful and may increase your risk of other problems in your next practice and during your normal daily routine. Tight hamstrings commonly cause injuries during yoga, Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D. told the Huffington Post in 2011. In most cases, home treatment is appropriate for tight hamstrings, but changes to your yoga routine can help too. If the problem persists or gets worse, contact your doctor.
A primary reasons you might experience hamstring tightness after yoga is from lack of proper stretching before your session. If your hamstrings aren't flexible enough to ensure proper form with each pose, you may exacerbate the problem or create new injuries. Some people are genetically predisposed to short hamstrings, while others have longer ones less prone to tightness. Health conditions involving your back, such as sciatica, also contribute to some instances of tightness in the hamstrings.
Stretching your hamstring muscles after yoga is an ideal way to lengthen them and prevent discomfort and pain. For example, the standing hamstring stretch, done by straightening your legs and bending over with arms and head hanging, stretches the hamstring muscle, relieving tightness and increasing flexibility. Massaging the affected area is another option for decreasing tightness and is recommended by the Sports Injury Clinic. Moist heat, such as a hot towel draped over your hamstring, significantly increases flexibility in the area, found a 2001 study reported in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research." Treat hamstring tightness as soon as possible after your yoga session ends for the best results.
The best way to prevent your hamstrings from tightening during and after yoga is to stretch for at least 10 minutes before your practice. Stretch each of your major muscle groups, but focus on your hamstrings if they cause the most problems. The standing hamstring stretch and the wall hamstring stretch are good choices. Leg swings and stepping are other choices that stretch your hamstrings. This reduces the risk of injury during yoga and reduces the tightness you feel afterward.
Tight hamstrings may interfere with your next yoga session, but also hinder other day-to-day activities and increase your risk of injuries. A tight hamstring limits your range of motion, making standing and sitting poses difficult to do with proper form. This increases the chance of sustaining a lower back injury during yoga. Once you leave the studio, a tight hamstring is at a higher risk of tearing and places extra stress on your lower back by hindering pelvic movement. If you experience any pain that accompanies tight hamstrings, contact your doctor for treatment options.
- Spine Health: Specific Hamstring Stretches for Back Pain Relief
- Sports Injury Bulletin: Tight Hamstrings: Can Moist Heat Beat Classic Hamstring Flexibility Exercises?
- Sports Injury Clinic: Tight Hamstring Muscles
- Peak Performance: Hamstring Injury: Preventing and Treating Tears, Strains and Pulls With Hamstring Exercises
- Huffington Post: The Number One Yoga Mistake
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- What Causes the Hamstring Muscles to Tighten or Shorten?
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