Sunday, 30 April 2017

Yoga anatomy bites - glutes and preventing back pain

Your glutes, the muscles of your butt do so much more than cushion you when you are seated. 

The glutes are made up of three pairs of muscles, the gluteus maximus, the largest, the gluteus medius which lies under the gluteus maximus and the smallest, gluteus minimus. 

The gluteus maximus attaches to the sacrum and femur.  Its function is to draw the femur into the hip socket, kick the leg back and support the pelvis in standing. The gluteus medial is on the outer suface of the pelvis connecting the illium, hip bone with the femur.  It helps flex and internally rotate the hip and extend and externally rotate the thigh at the hip.  The gluteus minimus also helps stabilise the hip and helps with external  and inward rotation of the thigh at the hip.

Problems occur when the glutes get weak with sedentary lifestyle or tight due to such activities as running.  There may also be asymmetries between sides which can cause issuesWeak glutes do not give adequate support to the lumbar spine leading to back pain. On the other hand tight glutes may affect the tilt of the pelvis which again can also cause problems.

The following poses will stretch and strengthen the glutes and iron out any asymmetries :-

Apanasana - lie on a yoga mat with your legs outstretched.  Bend your right knee and draw your right knee in close to your chest.  If you have knee issues hold on behind your thighs otherwise you can hold on just below your knee. Hold for a few breaths then release.  Repeat second side.

Locust come to lying on your tummy, arms by your sides, palms facing the side seam of your trousers, forehead to the mat.  Tuck your right toes and press your heel back.  Return the top of your foot to the mat.  Repeat with the left foot to lengthen out the back. Breathe in, lift your head, chest, arms and legs.  Hold for a breath then lower. Repeat, then take a Child pose.

Low lunge when you are ready come to all fours, breathe out and lift your hips  into Downward Facing Dog.  From there look forward, breathe in and bring your right foot between your hands, breathe out lower your back knee. Return to Downward Facing Dog and repeat bringing the left foot forward. Return to Downward Facing Dog, breathe in, drop your knees, breathe out and take a Child's Pose.

Warrior 1 - come back to Downward Facing Dog, breathe in and bring your right foot three quarters of the way forward, breathe out and drop the back heel so that the toes turn out at 45 degrees. Breathe in and stretch your arms up.  Work the back leg strongly, holding for 5 breaths then breathe out lower your hands to the mat, return to Downward Facing Dog and repeat second side, then make your way to standing.

Fierce Prayer  - Option to place a block between your thighs for good alignment. From standing, breathe in and stretch your arms up, breathe out and bend your knees deeply. Imagine you are preparing to sit in a seat that is placed a little too far back.  Hold for several breaths then inhale straighten your legs, exhale release your arms down.

Side Angle - step your feet wide and turn the whole of the right leg to the right, toes of the left foot turning in about 45 degrees. Ladies should line up front and back heels, men front heel to back instep. Bring your hands to prayer position.  Inhale stretch your arms out at shoulder height, exhale bend your front knee.  Inhale bring your right elbow to your right thigh, exhale circle your left arm down then up by your left ear. Alternatively take your right hand to a block placed behind the right foot (remember a block has 3 levels) or to the mat. Gaze is up at the left palm or straight ahead. To come out of the pose, inhale windmill your arms up to shoulder height, straighten the front knee, exhale bring your hands to your heart, turn the feet to face forward. Repeat on the second side.

Shoulder Bridge- lie with your knees bent, arms by your sides (option to place a block between your thighs).  Inhale lift your hips, squeezing the block between your thighs,if using, bend your elbows so your palms are facing, fingers open. Breathe out and slowly lower.

Happy Baby -come to lying on your back.  Bring your knees towards your chest and take hold of the outside of your feet, ankles or shins.  Rock from side to side.  To modify place a bolster under your hips before doing the pose or practice one leg at a time for Half Happy Baby.

Please also see:-
'Yoga anatomy bites- flexion and extension'
'Yoga anatomy bites - adduction and abduction'
'Yoga anatomy bites- internal rotation and external rotation'
'Yoga anatomy bites - hamstring strength vs flexibility
'Yoga anatomy bites - foot flexibility and stability'
'Yoga anatomy bites - knee health'
'Yoga anatomy bites - piriformis'


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