Standing Bow - A complex & challenging Pose
Biomechanics behind a standing bow hamstring injury on the lifted leg:
Oversimplified, limited hip flexor flexibility is often the main cause of a hamstring strain on the lifted leg side. If your psoas and iliacus are tight (hip flexors), then the moment you pull your foot up behind you is the moment your body will compensate.
Here’s the more complex answer...
As the leg is pulled back, with the assistance of the hamstrings, the hip should move a lot - especially as you sink into the pose and pull your foot farther up and back. If the hip flexors are tight, your low back will hyperextend instead (this ends up driving a greater degree of anterior pelvic tilt).
A hyperextended back also creates compressive force on the little facet joints in the spine which results in a smaller space for the nerve roots to exit the spine. This means reduced neural input to the lower extremities.
If you couple the low back’s hyperextension and excessive anterior pelvic tilt with a hamstring working in an overall shortened position against a strong opposing force (hip flexors), you set yourself up for a high hamstring strain. Interestingly, the hamstring lengthens near its origin as a result of the anteriorly tilting pelvis which further adds to the muscle strain.
Biomechanics behind a standing bow hamstring injury on the stance leg:
Again, we can oversimplify the cause and blame a high hamstring strain of the stance leg on limited hip flexor flexibility on the lifted leg. As the pelvis rotates too far anteriorly, the hamstring origin of the stance leg tensions too much which can result in a tear.
Usually, the hamstring tears on the stance leg not because of limited hamstring flexibility but because of limited hip flexor length and hamstring, glute, and abdominal strength - there is often an inability to decelerate (control) the pelvis tilting anteriorly.
Side note regarding hamstring strains on the stance leg:
The hamstrings are often not taught to use and control their flexibility during significant hip abduction as required for the stance leg during standing bow. Additionally, uncontrolled hip internal rotation and foot pronation can cause hamstring strains.
So how do you perfect your standing bow and protect your hamstrings?
Address three biomechanics pieces to optimize your Standing Bow:
1. Hip Flexor & Quad Flexibility
2. Lower Ab & Hamstring Strength
3. Thoracic Spine Extension + Rotation Mobility
Not only will the above exercises keep your hamstrings protected, they will also keep your low back healthy while improving your ability to perform your standing bow. And they will make your standing bow look and feel much better!
Professional injury and biomechanics assistance
If you need a biomechanics analysis or are experiencing pain while doing yoga, let one of our expert physical therapists help you move and feel better! Call us at (206) 279-2870 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also schedule a visit online here.
About Forefront Physical Therapy
We help rescue people from injuries that stop them from doing the activities they love. And we do it through activity and individually specific exercises. All of our physical therapists are trained in Applied Functional Science which allows our patients to experience more authentic success in their movement related recoveries.
Dr. Dan Benson, DPT, OCS, FAFS
Forefront Physical Therapy
Belltown & South Lake Union
2720 4th Ave Ste 115
Seattle, WA 98121
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