Pigeons And A Pain In The Butt

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Admittedly, I have a love hate relationship with pigeons. If you have ever been to NYC you will understand my hate relationship. If you have ever taken a yoga class and are a runner with tight hips, you will understand my love relationship.

First let’s delve into the love relationship with a little yoga.  Pigeon pose is a great one for almost any runner.  As you log your miles it is common to get tight muscles, especially around the hips.  Most yoga instructors will tell you that we carry a lot of our stress and tension in the hip area, making it a great reason to get in there and stretch them out.  This pose is the ultimate hip opener.

During last year’s marathon training I experienced some serious piriformis pain aka “pain in the butt.”  This stretch really helped ease the pain.  It also helps stretch the groin area, psoas, abdomen, IT band and lower back.  Most any runner could use some help in at least one of these areas.

Keep in mind that this is an intense stretch.  Do not do this with cold muscles.  I recommend it at the end of a workout or yoga session.  As with any type of stretch, once you get into it try to relax.  Never, ever bounce in any kind of stretch!

Below is my preferred way to do this move.  Start in downward facing dog and lift a leg into one legged downward dog.  Slowly pull that leg toward your chest, bend the knee toward your nose, then open the hip before placing your leg down so that your foot is near your other knee.  Your hips should stay in line with each other and the leg behind you should stay in line with your hip and entire body (don’t let it go out to the side in either direction).

Disclaimer:  I am not a yoga instructor.  Just a girl who runs a lot and has tight hips.  I have taken many a yoga class and this has been a huge help for me.

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If your hip doesn’t come all the way down you can place a block or a folded towel below you so that you can settle in.  You can hold this pose with your back up as shown or if you want a deeper stretch you can lay your chest down in front of you.  It is intense but shouldn’t be painful.  Try to relax, take a few deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.

The Hate:

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If you have ever been to NYC you have noticed that there is an abundance of pigeons along with an abundance of people who like to bring bread and seeds to feed the birds. This causes the birds to congregate by the hundreds in the middle of a sidewalk.  Pigeons are filthy and really just plain annoying for anyone trying to walk or run on the sidewalks.

I honestly never understood the fascination with pigeons nor did I ever have a desire to sit around feeding them.  I now have even less of a desire to be anywhere near them.

A few winters ago I was doing my morning run along the East River.  As I made my turn to head back home a cute little dog was jogging along side his owner coming towards me.  He got ahead of his owner and between us was a flock of pigeons (I assume here that they go in “flocks”) pecking away at seeds on the sidewalk.  They were so startled at the presence of the dog that they flew away without realizing any of their other surroundings.  By surroundings I mean me.

Without any warning, a pigeon flew directly into my forehead!  At first I couldn’t even figure out what had just happened.  It looked like something out of a movie, I groaned, all the other runners stopped and stared in disbelief, and then I did the only thing I knew to do.  I kept on running.

If you run the East River in the mornings you may have noticed me that day because I was the girl who kept moaning, “Ewww” for the remainder of my run.

Bert and a pigeon

Sorry Bert I think you’re adorable, but I will stick with the yoga version.

12 thoughts on “Pigeons And A Pain In The Butt

  1. Hahaha. I used to live in Red Hook. Most of the pigeons kept to the back of Fairway, but those stupid Starlings and House Sparrows were everywhere. Damn you, Shakespeare.

  2. Thanks for the stretch advice… Just a few months ago I had the same pain in my butt and through a little therapy and adjustments I got the pain worked out. This stretch is great, though!

  3. hahahah! i hate pigeons too and im always that person on the street here that stops or jumps and yells when i think pigeons are going to fly into me. no one else every seems startled!?! but yeah, pigeon pose is great.

  4. I love pigeon pose!! I feel your pain with the runner/tight hips combo, but it really does help. I try to do it every night after I foam roll (another love-hate relationship, ha!) 🙂

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