Niki Vetten

Neck Pain from the Hips

Posture affects our necks negatively when there is anterior or posterior pelvic tilt because the spinal curves are altered and the head is carried in a forward position. The muscle at the front of the neck, the Sternocleidomastoideus (SCM) shortens and the shoulder girdle rounds and shifts forward, exaggerating the curvature of the upper back. In some people, the upper back remains relatively straight and the lower cervical curve reverses. Both of these neck positions cause pain in the upper…

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Sacroiliac Joints and Yoga

Sacroiliac problems are common in yoga – Chiropractors consider the Sacroiliac joint to be the most common cause of lower back pain, more prevalent than disc problems. The Sacroiliac joint is believed to act as a shock absorber between the legs and the spine and although its movements are very small, restrictions at the joint cause great pain as well as difficulty in forward bending. Pain is often referred into the buttocks, legs, lower back and neck. The hip area…

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Understanding and Managing Sacroiliac Pain in Yoga Practice

It is common for yogis to develop painful sacroiliac joints, with serious consequences: dysfunction at the sacroiliac joint inhibits the hip muscles and starts a vicious cycle of hip instability and body misalignment. Painful sacroiliac joints must be treated and stabilised to avoid chronic pain and it is not advisable to continue with any yoga practice that causes sacroiliac pain. Successful treatment by a specialised therapist is life-altering for yogis suffering from sacroiliac dysfunction. It is very important to get…

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Lower Back Pain and Posture (Pelvic Tilt) and how Yoga affects Pelvic Tilt

Posture is not simply a matter of standing up straight, like your mother told you to; posture is created by the Hamstrings and Hip Flexor (mainly the Iliopsoas) muscles. If the Hamstrings are stronger than the Psoas, the pelvis tilts backwards and if the Psoas is stronger than the Hamstrings, the pelvis tilts forwards. The spinal column balances on top of the pelvis and adjusts its curves according to how the pelvis is tilted. This is the body’s internal balancing…

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Lower Back Pain in Yoga Practice and the Lumbar Spine

The Lumbar spine, unlike the lower thoracic spine, moves very little and should not be used during back extension movements, because the vertebrae or discs can be damaged. Any muscular imbalances between the hips, legs and lower back cause pain and restriction in the lumbar spine, and can ultimately result in injury. Hamstring muscles that are overactive cause the lower back muscles to tighten up, jamming the lumbar facet joints. An overactive Iliopsoas will do the same thing, which is…

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Back Flexibility with Yoga

As we get older our spines bend less, mostly because of the effects of gravity on the spinal discs, which begin to dehydrate and become compressed after 30, reducing the spaces between the facet joints in the vertebrae and limiting movement. Gravity and an upright human posture also causes some the spinal muscles found in children to be converted to more rigid and stable ligaments in adults. Child-gymnasts and young yogis are capable of much more extreme backbending than adults,…

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Lower Back Pain and Alignment

Another cause of lower back pain is found in the alignment of the left and right sides of the body, some bodies are structurally asymmetrical: one leg is shorter than the other, or the pelvic halves are different sizes, people can be born that way, or their structure can be altered by bone fractures. Weakness on one side of the body can also be caused by operations, serious muscle injury, nerve injury in the spine or a stroke. Asymmetry is…

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Hip Pain and Injury in Yoga

Hips are vital in all body movements because the body’s centre of gravity is located in the hip area, about 4 finger-widths below the navel or belly-button. Healthy hips are also the key to a pain-free lower back and knees. Flexibility in the hips is determined by strength and overstretching the hips in an effort to make them flexible will instead make the hips weak and dysfunctional. Muscle imbalances in the hips also lead to inflexibility in the legs –…

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