Hey there, ladies! Are you approaching or going through menopause? I'm ten years post menopause this next month, I can relate to the physical and emotional challenges that comes with it. Menopause can bring various changes to our bodies, including a condition called gluteal tendinopathy, which can be painful and frustrating to deal with. As someone who's passionate about yoga, its benefits and your yoga practice, I've decided to dedicate a whole section of my blog to explore how yoga can and cannot help manage menopause symptoms, including gluteal tendinopathy. Join me on this journey as we learn and grow together!
During menopause, a woman's body undergoes numerous hormonal and physiological changes that can have various effects on her overall health and well-being. One common condition that women may experience during menopause is gluteal tendinopathy, which is a painful condition affecting the tendons in the buttocks. If you're a pre or post-menopausal yogini, you might be doing things that make the condition worse.
Gluteal tendinopathy is caused by inflammation or damage to the tendons that attach the gluteal muscles to the hip bone. This condition can cause severe pain in the buttocks, hip, and thigh area, making it difficult for women to perform daily activities such as walking, standing, climbing stairs and yes our beloved yoga. Gluteal tendinopathy is most common in women between the ages of 40 and 60, which is the same age range when most women experience menopause.
The link between menopause and gluteal tendinopathy lies in the hormonal changes that occur during menopause. This change happens years before the end of our menstrual cycle. During menopause, women experience a decrease in estrogen levels, which can lead to a decrease in muscle mass and strength. This decrease in muscle mass can affect the gluteal muscles, which can lead to a weakening of the tendons that attach them to the hip bone. As a result, women may be more susceptible to developing gluteal tendinopathy during menopause.
Gluteal tendinopathy can lead to a feeling of tightness in the muscles surrounding the buttocks or hips. This sensation is caused by inflamed tendons that irritate the muscles, resulting in them becoming tense. Unlike regular muscle tightness that can be alleviated through stretching, the tightness associated with gluteal tendinopathy cannot be eased through stretching exercises.
It used to be that we wanted to stretch that glutes but recent research is showing that stretching may actually exacerbate gluteal tendinopathy and here's why. When we feel pain and tightness we usually associate stretching for relief. Gluteal tendinopathy is an inflammation or injury to the tendons of the gluteal muscles. This means that the tendons have lost strength and are basically over stretched and weak. They lack the strength to support the muscle to perform their task. When we stretch it even more, it might feel good in the moment but it actually stresses already over taxed tissue.
Avoid These Stretches as You Build Strength - Not Exactly
If you have gluteal tendinopathy or are experiencing pain in the gluteal region, it's essential to change the way you build and hold poses that "stretch" glute muscles.
What do I mean? Instead of "getting" into the pose, understanding how to activate before, during and after a pose makes all the difference in the world. I read articles that tell us to avoid the following poses. That info is misleading. My advice is to properly engage and activate and use these poses to strengthen your glutes instead of stretch the glutes.
Turn These Stretch Poses Into Strengthening Poses:
Pigeon Pose: If done in a relaxed fashion and if we use momentum to get into the pose we will be stretching tendons that are already injured. However, if we take our time to access the poses one step at a time and press the mat away with both legs, we'll be contracting the glute muscles and building strength.
Cow Face Pose: Choosing a different variation, backing off from full expression and pressing the outside of the legs downward again contracts instead of stretches the glute muscles.
Garland Pose: Using it to stretch the back and glutes is great if you don't have tendon pain. If you have gluteal tendinopathy this might be the mother of all poses that overstretch your already weak tendons. Instead push the mat away with the outside of the feet. You'll feel your butt cheeks crunching or in more technical terms, you'll activate and strengthen your glutes and take the burden off the tendons.
As you build strength, tendons have a chance to heal. As your damaged tendons heal, the tightness will gradually diminish. This will take time. It may take weeks or months for a tendon injury to heal. Be patient, and stay with your commitment to strengthen. If you start using the injured tendon too soon, it can lead to more damage.
Lastly, remember to listen to your body and avoid any poses or stretches that cause pain or discomfort. It's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you're dealing with an injury or medical condition. Treatment for gluteal tendinopathy typically involves a combination of physical therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Physical therapy can help to strengthen the gluteal muscles and improve mobility, while medication can help to reduce inflammation and pain.
Keep flowing and growing!
All my love,
Hello, my name is Vikky, and I am thrilled to share my passion for yoga with you. I have been teaching yoga for over 13 years in South Florida, and my journey with this ancient practice started over 37 years ago. As a registered yoga teacher and 200 Yoga School with Yoga Alliance, I hold expertise in multiple disciplines of yoga, including yogic anatomy, 500-hour yoga teacher training, yogic philosophy, and meditation. My classes are a blend of dynamic movement, breathwork, and meditation, providing a holistic experience that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit. I believe yoga is for everyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or experience. My approach is welcoming and inclusive, creating a safe and nurturing environment for all my students to explore the many benefits of yoga. Through my teachings, I hope to inspire and empower students to connect with their inner selves, cultivate mindfulness, and lead healthier, happier lives. Join me in my classes to experience the transformative power of yoga firsthand.