Alignment and Injuries,  Reblogs

Healing Or Preventing Hamstring Injuries

By Shanna Small

I recently wrote an article here titled, The Yogi, The Demon and The Piriformis Injury, where I wrote about my “adventures” in healing my injury. I asked you guys to help me explain things that worked for me, but that I had trouble actually explaining why it worked. I got a great response from the Yogi Master describing why the contraction of my legs actually helped the pain go away and allowed me to continue with my yoga practice.

Reciprocal inhibition describes the process of muscles on one side of a joint relaxing to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. Joints are controlled by two opposing sets of muscles, extensors and flexors, which must work in synchrony for smooth movement. When a muscle spindle is stretched and the stretch reflex is activated, the opposing muscle group must be inhibited to prevent it from working against the resulting contraction of the homonymous muscle. This inhibition is accomplished by the actions of an inhibitory interneuron in the spinal cord.

I also came across this article on the yoga blog, which originally posted on Yoga International, which was written by anatomy genius Doug Keller that explains why it works and basically said everything I did but in a more scientific way.

Shanna Small. Picture by Wanda Koch
Shanna Small. Picture by Wanda Koch

For people who practice yoga, hamstring injuries develop over time, usually where the hamstring attaches to the sit bone. This is a tendon injury, and unlike a muscle tear, it doesn’t happen suddenly. Instead, it is “death by a thousand cuts”: each tiny rip in the tendon is relatively minor by itself, but because it does not fully heal, repeated injuries accumulate over time, until an ill-considered bit of overstretching or an overly aggressive adjustment from a teacher finally puts the injury over the edge.

Go here for the full post.


Who has successfully healed there hamstring or piriformis injury and how long did it take?

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail


  • Claire Yates

    thank you thank you! i have been looking for some help with my hamstring injury and my teacher just tells me i am ‘thinking to much’ about it and it will go away if i stop thinking! but it is sore, specfically in kurmasana, supta and konasana. I am so happy to have found this article to help. many many thanks!

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