First, thanks for the bloggy support on my previous post. Grimmly says it all with “hamstrings are a bugger.” Ain’t that the truth.
Anyway, it’s Monday morning and I’m not doing yoga. Ugh, I hate it. I feel stiff and cold and I know a rousing round of Primary would make everything better—everything except this persistent ache in my behind, result of a pull? tear? to the right hamstring attachment. Anyway, after Sat and Sun off, the right sitbone only aches when I bend over, which is normally every 30 seconds to pick up a toy from the floor. Needless to say the floor is COVERED IN TOYS right now.
I found this excellent article on hamstring injuries by Roger Cole. I actually took a workshop with him a decade or more ago in my Iyengar phase, on inversions and supported yoga. He’s a scientist and was doing all this research into the physiology of being upside down, really interesting stuff. I can’t remember it all now, but I remember he had worked out exactly why a good shoulderstand can change your brainwaves, your blood pressure, your endorphins and hormones, etc. It had to do with compression of various nerve ganglia or something…my memory is crap. Also, after all that science, he put us through two hours of various supported (and often inverted) poses, such that walking out of there I was as high as I have ever been, drugs or no. Simply an amazing sensation. One that I have never been able to replicate (probably because I’ve been unwilling to give it two hours, but still).
Maybe I should return to some supported poses this week, as therapy?
In his article on hamstring injuries, he recommends three days of ice, then six weeks of gentle strengthening to try to align the incoming collagen fibers (so as not to get an inflexible scar) with baby-baby versions of Salabhasana, Dhanurasana and a Supported Partial Supta Padangusthasana. Finally, up to a year (!!!!!) of “…some of the same asanas, practiced at a slightly higher level of difficulty…then proceeding to asanas that demand muscle contraction against greater and greater resistance, in neutral, shortened, and increasingly stretched positions.” He lists those out.
All sounds good except for that freaking YEAR thing.
I also found this one from Tim Miller, an old timer ashtangi, who is not in favor of quitting practice altogether. Typical astangi, nothing stops the practice! He describes lengthening and strengthening at the same time with heavily contracted quads during any forward bend, as well as ‘eccentric’ contractions, where you flex the muscle (the hamstrings in this case) while you are stretching it. Of course, he says don’t bend the knee to protect the hamstring, while Cole (and others) say bend the knee. It can all get rather confusing.
Anyway, the treatment thus far:
Ice. Sitting on an ice pack has turned out to be terrific the last two days, seriously. Ten minutes and the pain is gone. But I may be moving on to heat now.
Gentle cycling. Yes, that’s right, I’m going to clear off the coat rack stationary bike and get on it today, which is supposed to be a good therapy for gentle hamstring strengthening. I’ve got to try to get some exercise or I will surely harden into a calcified glob.
It’s 20 degrees outside, so no long dog walks for me, poor Henry.
Asana. I’m going to try Roger Cole’s baby asanas tomorrow (and try not to be bored out of my mind doing them). Plus I can do twists, backbends, and inversions, plus those supported poses. I guess I’m off ashtanga for a little bit, anyway, at least until it doesn’t hurt to bend over. There is just too much forward bending in Primary to even bother. If I have to skip every Down Dog, two-thirds of the seated poses, half the standing poses…what’s the point? I’ll do a week of ashtanga-less yoga (sob!) and see how my bum is feeling next Monday.
[FRUSTRATED SHOUTY CAPS!]
I hate how gummy I feel…. Hadn’t realized how addicted to ashtanga I’d become.