A student asked me about what yoga to do and to avoid while nursing a high hamstring strain. This is a common injury in both yoga and running, so those of us who do both should be especially careful to protect this vulnerable area where the hamstring attaches to the pelvis, just south of the sitting bone. The best protection is not overstretching—so you can see how runners who are used to discomfort and competitive are especially prone to injuring this area. What to do: active backbends, especially locust. What to avoid: forward bends, which means you may need to practice at home or one-on-one with a teacher for a while.
I especially like Roger Cole’s Yoga Journal article on the subject, “Recovering from Upper Hamstring Tendon Injuries.”
Both I and my athletes have coped with this injury, and I must admit, the sensation of strain in that tendon still persists for me, eight years later. When I feel my strained area acting up, I know to look at my training and back off for a few days. In that way, it’s almost a blessing, like having a built-in barometer, or a pressure gauge, that shows me when I’m working too hard and starting to fray.
Recently, I spoke with runner/yogini Diann on the topic of potential yoga-and-running injuries. Enjoy her nice piece on Books and Body, “Three Tips to Avoid Yoga Injuries.”
And here are some tips on careful stretching of the hamstrings: