- Hi Bernie - I'm concerned about my yoga practice. I have been practicing yin yoga for the past couple of months and last month I was in a pose with legs spread, stretching my upper body to the floor when I felt a sharp pain in my inner thigh. I have tried to be very gentle in my stretching, allowing my muscles to relax and allowing gravity to pull me down, so I was surprised to feel pain. For a few hours afterwards, I had a soreness in my thigh. I rested for a few days, thinking I'd pulled something, but when I returned to my practice, I found that the tightness and pain continued and made my stretches less deep. Now when I practice this stretch, I do my best to listen to my body to tell me how far is far enough, but it is so frustrating experiencing this pain that holds me back. Sometimes a feeling of tightness or tenderness continues well after my practice is done. Have I injured myself? Should I refrain from stretching those muscles, or should I continue my practice but more gently?
Please help! Thank you. H.
Hi H - as always, let me begin with the disclosures: I am not a doctor, nor a physiotherapist and even if I were, it is very difficult to diagnose a problem over the internet. I can’t see you and we can’t easily enter into a dialogue where I would ask you a lot of questions about your practice, what else is going on in your life and your general state of physical and mental health. Given all that, all I can do is speculate - it is up to you to evaluate.
Your only clues given to me are - sharp pain, inner thighs, while lowering your upper body while in Straddle Pose. Do you have any history of injury there? Had you been particularly active in the days prior to this event? How long had you been in the pose before the pain occurred? Did you get any warning tweaks prior to the main event?
Sharp pain is usually a sign of fascial problems: either in the belly of the muscle itself or in the surrounding fascia, ligaments or tendons. You don’t say exactly where you experienced the pain but that is another important clue to knowing what went wrong. Muscle injuries generally resolve quite quickly: within days. Fascial problems in the tendons or ligaments can take much longers: weeks to months depending upon the severity.
A comment about your statement, “I have tried to be very gentle in my stretching, allowing my muscles to relax and allowing gravity to pull me down”: while it is great to relax the muscles to allow the stress to soak deeply into the connective tissues, this is not necessarily “gentle” --- there is a lot of stress being placed on your fascia, especially when you relax the muscles completely and allow gravity to draw you down. This softening is not gentle on the connective tissues, and deliberately so.
Speculation: again - I don’t know what happened but - it could be that you relaxed so deeply that your fascia was strained. If you felt the pain closer to the groin, it may have been an adductor muscle tendon that was overstressed. Again, tendons do take longer to heal, so I am not surprised that even after a few days of rest the injury was still a bit painful for you. It may take a few weeks of not stressing that area very much to let it really heal.
The tightness you are experiencing is a natural part of the healing process: the body contracts when injured to protect itself. The inflammation initially is required to help heal the tissues, but if the inflammation becomes chronic, it can interfere with healing. You may want to read this article on earthing to get some ideas of how to deal with chronic inflammation.
It is good to gently mobilize an injured area as long as you don’t go into painful positions: don’t re-injure it by trying to do too much too fast, but do try some easy movements (perhaps somethings as simple as the pawanmuktasansa for the lower body?
What caused the injury? Hard to say, but usually the body gives some warning before an injury occurs: did you have any previous tweaks in that area that maybe you dismissed? Paying attention is not easy, but it is valuable. In the future, this area could be the site of some residual weakness, so keep paying attention, playing the edge, but not going too far.
I hope this helps!