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Part 5 Open Your Hips and Get Out of Back Pain--Pigeon Pose

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Pigeon has become a signature pose yoga. It also has become a pose where people can feel if they are not able to get into the full expression of it that they have tight hips and or they feel as though there is something wrong with them. Stretching the posterior portion of the hips does wonders for low back, hip and knee pain. Why would you not be able to make flexibility gains in the hips? Why is this not the full remedy for your low back, hip or knee pain (even up into the neck, shoulder and all the way down to your ankle)? You have a unique genetic makeup that have created your hips structure. You simply have an inherent restriction and a different vitiation of a hip stretch must be used or repositioning of the pose. The pose conforms to you and not the other way around. You also have life experiences that have created this body as well. This could be from injuries or surgeries. Either way your body's limitations that are structurally related must be honored and respected. My eyes are always focused and connected with what my body is willing to give me when releasing tension from the body and going right into the strengthening the muscle that may not be fully participating like it is supposed to. In this pose piriformis is the emphasized muscle. The piriformis is a part of the rotators that support the hip joint, called the Deep 6. This is like the rotator cuff group for the shoulder. The deep 6 muscles are local stabilizers. This means their main job is to stabilize the hip joint at the hip joint and assist other muscles doing other functions but locally. Glute max as I mention a lot is a global stabilizer. This means it has a much bigger job, but need the help of the deep 6 and why glute max is the size that it is. When glute max starts to become inhibited (working less than it should) the local stabilizers are called upon by the brain to take on more work that glute max is not doing. So are other muscles, I'm simplifying it and staying in one area. The deep 6 now are taking on the job of the global stabilizer. When we take on more work we get tired and cranky. So, does the deep 6 and in this case the piriformis. Boy, does it like to let you know that it's mad! We start experiencing back pain, maybe sciatica symptoms, knee pain and maybe even neck pain. We stretch the piriformis and we begin to feel better, but a few days later the symptoms come back, we stretch more but nothing is really getting resolved. What is typically missed is strengthening glute max right after. Again, this is as simply as doing glute bridge right after. Why does glute max need so much attention to stay working? Simply, we sit on it a lot! Glute max is the biggest muscle in the body because it has a big job and requires a lot of energy! When do more sitting than moving, the brain simply diverts resources from a muscle that is not being used to a muscle that is being used. Doesn’t have to be the right muscle. The brain is simply adapting the body to what you are doing. The glutes help with stabilizing so many joints, postures, etc.…it also helps with improving posture. There is the link for glute bridge for developing strength. Try it right after doing this stretch you will find doing a bridge pose feels as though two big, gorgeous muscles are now doing the work!

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