No pain no gain?
June 29, 2011 9:40 AM   Subscribe

I hurt the backs of my thighs (my sciatic nerve? maybe?) in yoga class on Monday. Should I go back tonight?

Going from sitting to standing hurts, walking hurts, taking long strides especially hurts. It hurts to stretch my legs, but then I feel somewhat better for a few minutes. Then it goes back to hurting. The problem is likely that I over-stretched while I reached for my toes (you'd think after nearly a year of this I'd be better at touching my toes. Alas).

Should I go to my yoga class tonight? I don't want to exacerbate the pain, but if stretching helps, will yoga help? I'm not terribly athletic and have avoided sports at all costs for many years, so I'm not really up on sports medicine.
posted by AmandaA to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you sure this isn't delayed onset muscle soreness? Did you feel a sharp pain during the class that started it or did the pain slowly build up later?
posted by Durin's Bane at 9:53 AM on June 29, 2011

You should probably give your legs a rest for a few days.

A few things may have happened:

1. Muscle strain. Yoga positions (notably, coming out of them) work the muscles. In which case, you've got muscle soreness and want to relax them and do a cold soak followed by a hot bath. Massage is also good.

2. Muscle lock up. You can "overstretch" by basically asking too much of the muscles in too short of a time- they sometimes decide the response is to lock themselves tight, because they got pulled too far. If you actually are having sciatic nerve response, it can be because the muscles have locked down on them. (these would be the muscles in your rump- the glutes, the piriformis, rather than your legs, most likely). Again- relaxation, hot soak, massage.

3. Microtears. This is the overstretch you don't want, because you've injured the muscles. Luckily, muscles heal a lot easier than joints or tendons. The big reason you don't want this is that it means the way in which you were doing yoga is actually harmful to you, and your instructor didn't check for your safety. People can incur long term injuries doing yoga incorrectly.

Here's something I've written about stretching and what it does and doesn't actually do for you.
posted by yeloson at 9:56 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Durin's Bane, that sounds exactly like what it is. I have never heard of it before. The wikipedia article seems to come down on the side of "go back to class." Thanks!
posted by AmandaA at 9:56 AM on June 29, 2011

I think going back to class is fine. Just tell the instructor what is going on. He or she will give you alternative moves that will protect/ease your legs if needed. If they don't, I would recommend a different instructor.
posted by Vaike at 10:04 AM on June 29, 2011

Seconding Vaike's response. Yoga shouldn't hurt you, but you are mostly in control of that - don't feel you have to do everything the instructor says.
posted by backwards guitar at 10:21 AM on June 29, 2011

I would skip it. I love yoga, but yoga instructors are not always the best at preventing injuries, and sometimes they push students more than they should. Unless you're really good at respecting your body's limits (and knowing what they are) it's not worth it to possibly exacerbate an injury. Just wait a week and then go back. You could hurt yourself further in class, but class probably won't help you feel better.
posted by yarly at 10:50 AM on June 29, 2011

I personally would go back, but take it easy. I've never had a yoga teacher push me to do anything, but I do see people push themselves too hard. If you think your yoga teacher will push you or if you won't be able to resist pushing yourself, then avoid it... On the other hand, I think if you stay slow and gentle then it will help.
posted by anaelith at 11:02 AM on June 29, 2011

I would go and talk to your instructor, see what they have to say, they will know...
posted by sizzil34 at 12:12 PM on June 29, 2011

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