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Muscle Knots

Oppiut2010-07-05 01:21:21 +0000 #1
Hello everyone,

I'm 19 years old with a slim build weighing in at 125lbs at 5 ft, 9 in. I've just started practicing basic yoga a month ago, daily, usually an hour to two hours a day. I practice on my own. I utilize sun salutations, forward bends, backbends, twists, and arm balances, but I shy away from inversions for now.

After receiving a back massage my therapist informs me that I have many stress knots in my mid-to-upper back region, near the shoulder blades. My upper back hunches forward, but there is not pain, only soreness. I REALLY feel my spinal extensors stretching out in one-legged forward bends, and doing cow pose after cobra or sphinx feels really good. However, my upper spine will not flex/open up during Upward Dog and neither will my chest. I've been giving myself pressure point massages with tennis balls in order to work out the knots (no money). BTW, I have no problem with Half Lord of the Fishes pose.

My question is, are there any more poses in which to free my upper back and open up my chest. I know you guys get this question a lot but I figured this situation is unique as I am able to identify the muscles having the problem: My left spinal extensors facing me from the back. Would appreciate the advice. Thanks.


InnerAthlete2010-07-05 01:36:15 +0000 #2
"Spinal extensors"? Is that really what you want to reference? Where did you come up with that assessment please?

Should I presume you have some anatomy or kinesiology training? Are you referring only to the longissimus, iliocostalis, and multifidus groups?

These are very deep muscles which stabilize the spine and it is quite rare for a student to "feel" these muscles as they are not superficial.

Inversions are a necessary part of an asana practice as that grouping of poses frees up the invertebral muscles. Therefore inversions are preparatory in nature for both backbends and twists. Inversions should eb learned properly from a skilled teacher.

Forward bends, for a student with hunched shoulders or rounded thoracic spine (kyphosis) may be contra-indicated. At very least they would need to be aligned in such a way that the anterior spine is remaining open regardless of the depth of the pose, or lack thereof. Point being that more rounding of something already rounding is not an action leading to balance.

Backbends would eb very good for such a person. However if that student can not or has yet to find the actions of moving the thoracic spine toward the front body in Bhujangasana they are not likely to find it in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.

Yes there are a variety of ways to work with a student who has rounded shoulders but none of those ways, to me, involve "do these poses and you'll be fine". There are specific ways to work with a student to teach the actions of the thoracic spine for and in both twists and backbends.
Oppiut2010-07-05 01:56:09 +0000 #3
The term "spinal extensors" is borrowed from the book Yoga Anatomy, and does not specify the muscles included. I do not have any anatomy training and I have not been told by my therapist which muscles the knots are exactly located at and cannot afford to do so at the moment.

Yes, I do feel the muscles being extended as I move into a one-legged forward bend, even though I concentrate on my hamstrings. Having a friend check my back for me using this handy image : ; I concur I do not have kyphosis. Although I shall take your advice in balancing my forward bends with backbends.

Now, would a teacher be absolutely required in order to open my chest and spine in backbends? I might be able to afford a few classes in the fall and will try to take the oppurtinity but until then I am on my own. Can not something my advised in which I can work on? I do feel improvement in cobra, but in cobra I feel my lower back muscles being worked, which is fine, but I want to focus on my upper back, where the knots are at.

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