Some of the most common (and beloved!) poses in yoga include traditional hip openers…but these poses may not be serving your post-baby body. Read below (or watch the video) to understand why!
As a new yoga teacher I LOVED putting people into some long hip openers. Think half-pigeon and Baddha Konasana, poses where legs are externally rotating to open the hips.
Well, you know what they say… when you know better, you do better. Now, when I see extended hip openers in yoga, I cringe. For most postpartum bodies, these poses aren’t helping…and are possibly making hip issues worse.
Pregnancy As An Injury
In many ways, pregnancy acts like an injury to the body.
Pregnancy creates certain muscular imbalances and these imbalances destabilize parts of the body.
Most notably, the core and pelvic floor weaken, and the back and hip flexors tighten to compensate.
The Role of The Core
In a normal body, the core creates stability for the spine and pelvis (among other jobs).
The muscle tone in your core keeps your spine from being too loosy-goosy. This prevents herniated discs and other back issues that we don’t want.
The abdominals also stabilize the pelvis from above and keep the pelvis from shifting around with every step we take.
Muscular Changes During Pregnancy
However, as your baby grows during pregnancy, your core muscles weaken and can’t provide the stability the body needs.
Other parts of the body pick up the slack. The muscles of the back and the hip flexors, especially the psoas, lock down to stabilize the spine.
This creates a lovely, messy cascade in the body.
With the psoas doing the job of the core, the pelvis loses stability.
As a result, another muscle, the tensor fasciae latae (TFL), starts locking down.
The TFL is on your outer hip, around where your pant pockets would be. It’s primarily responsible for turning the leg out.
But when it needs to, it can tighten to create stability in the pelvis. (Sidenote: the TFL connects to the IT band. If your ITB has been bothering you since pregnancy, the TFL might be the culprit!)
So, as your core is weakening, the back, psoas and TFL are working overtime on jobs they aren’t designed to do. This impacts other body parts.
The TFL is a bully to the glutes, and shuts them off.
When that happens it causes more instability for the pelvis, so other areas kick in.
Sometimes this includes the pelvic floor. (If you’ve got a tight pelvic floor…this might be why!)
What do you get from this big mess?
Things like extremely tight hips, an unstable pelvis, SI joint instability, IT band flare ups, and that post-pregnancy mom-butt!
STRETCHING IS NOT THE ANSWER!
When we feel tight and achy…what do we do?
Most of us immediately think ‘STRETCH!’
We get into half-pigeon and other hip openers to get some relief.
Unfortunately, when we stretch, we force muscles to lengthen that are working REALLY hard to create stability.
Think about that for a moment…what are you doing to your body?
By stretching muscles that are holding things in place, you destabilize the entire system.
This is the reason that any relief that comes from the stretching doesn’t last for long…and why you may feel EVEN tighter afterward.
Your muscles are trying to protect you from the length you’ve created.
A Different Approach
So what do we do? If you’re feeling chronically tight or unstable, I know you want relief.
And while stretching can be helpful, our top priority must be to rebalance the imbalances pregnancy created.
We need to strengthen muscles that are weak so that the overworked muscles can chill out!
And…you’re in luck, because I have a FREE Happy Hips Masterclass that will show you how to do just that.