Where Are My Sitz Bones?
Tailbone and Sitz Bones
Last night I taught a private class for 5 women, some friends and some friends of friends. Their yoga experience varied widely, from “I took it once”, to someone who had done it regularly for a year.
I asked them to forget about the yoga classes they’ve had where there was no talking, and ask questions, lots of questions.
My friend Karen wasted no time to take me up on that offer. “Where the hell are my sitz bones?” She asked, adding that it was probably a dumb question, but she kept hearing that in class, but she had no idea where the sitz bones are, and what they do.
I laughed and told her when I first started doing yoga teacher training, I had no idea what a tailbone is. “I don’t have a tail, why would I have a tailbone?” was the line of thinking and the source of my puzzlement.
I’m glad that Karen asked me to clarify, and I have a feeling there are many yoga students out there wondering the same thing. So, here’s the low down (ha) on our sitz bones.
Using, and Explaining Anatomy terms
Now that I have immersed myself in the world of yoga–and subsequently anatomy–for so long, sometimes I forget what it was like to not know where my tailbone was, or even aware that I had one.
One quarter in college when I was studying computer network and hardware, I told my doctor that I seemed to know more about how the computer works than how my own body works. Now, as a yoga teacher and knowing a little bit more about the body, I feel a responsibility to pass on what I’ve learned.
So, What are These Sitz Bones?
Sitz bones, or sitting bones, is the common name for the ischial tuberosity, and it’s the lowest of the three major bones that make up the pelvis (in Greek ischion means “hip”). It’s part of the pelvis that takes our weight when we sit.
In the illustration shown here, it’s the red dots.
A (Literal) Pain in the Butt
Ischial tuberosity pain, or pain in the sitz bone, is common in athletes and anyone doing any type of jumping or running. A reason for this is because the sitz bone is the point of origin for the inner thigh muscles and hamstrings. Our hamstrings are usually tight, and we tend to pull them.
Why We Care, in Yoga and Otherwise
In yoga, we work to make–among other things–the hamstrings more flexible, by working with the sitz bones. When the hamstrings are tight, they shorten and pull down on the pelvis, flattening out the lumbar spine, or lower back, which puts you at risk for a herniated disk, and can cause lower back pain.