Yoga & Injuries
Yoga and injuries are like Siamese twins and I am sure that every dedicated practitioner has at some point experienced some sort of injury. Whether muscle strain, a pulled ligament, a pulled muscle, hamstring tears... The list is quite long.
While walking the path of yoga, sometime the ego get the better of us and we push our boundaries without understanding the effect this could have on our bodies. Trying to deepen the postures is like walking a fine line between giving them body the time to slowly open up and injury.
And yes, I can also speak from personal experience here. During my last ski tour, I strained my right hamstring muscle. A hamstring strain/pull/tear is a very common, and very annoying injury that many yogis have to deal with.
When injured or hurt, the ego usually pops up and just like you have touched your head to your knee millions of times before you want to do it again right now, but you can’t! It is physically impossible because that tiny little muscle located at the back of your leg makes your leg burn so bad that all you can think of is, back-off sister!
So, it’s time for ahimsa - non-violence! Give your body an extra dose of that and remember, asana is only 1 of 8 limbs! Have patience and trust in the practice.
1. Immediately see a physical therapist or professional
Rule of thumb: the longer you wait, the worst it gets!
Around about this time last year, I tore my left adductor when I slipped on ice and involuntary performed Eka Pada Shirshasana (one leg behind the head) in front of my door. I decided that it was not so bad, I gotta pull through and the body will take care of itself instead of seeking out for professional help immediately. You will be able to get diagnosed and your therapist will help you straight away which usually will relief you from pain. Once you know what is going on and which part of your body is injured, you are able to adjust your practice accordingly and you will be able to continue with yoga in a safe way.
2. Dry Needling for strained muscles
After my leg started to hurt, I called my PT and he stuck needles in my leg to alleviate the pull on the hamstring attachment. I had never worked with “dry needling” but I can now say, it works miracles! I could feel instant relief, my range of motion increased significantly within 10 minutes and the constant pull on the back of my leg was gone.
If you are a little scared of needles, try to remember that you are in the hands of a professional, it does not hurt but rather feels awkward. So breathe through your treatment and just allow your body to relax!
Find a good massage therapist who in best case scenario understands a yogi’s body and let them do their magic. With my history of injuries I have found that trying to compensate (we usually do it without noticing) can shift your entire body, especially the pelvis, making tendons and ligaments very angry and prolonging your recovery.
Massages are magical, the muscles relax and fascia is re-aligned.
4. Massage Balls
After doing some research and trying different message balls (size/price), I am currently using a tennis ball to massage my hamstring. Feel free to order specific massage balls but what I have learnt from my research, hey cost way more and are not too different from tennis. I would stay away from Lacrosse balls as they are very firm and you may do more damage to the muscle tissue than good. Cross friction works very well on my hamstrings as you don’t want to give it much more length by going up and down the leg, rather find the sore spots and move across them. Rolling around on balls helps with any tight, strained muscle! Give it a go.
As natural anti-inflammatory remedy, turmeric is my go-to root! I prepare delicious almond-turmeric-milk, I add it into my smoothies, juices etc. The list is endless! If you can’t get your hands on fresh turmeric, prepare a past with dried turmeric & water.
TIP: buy fresh turmeric in bulk and freeze it! This way you can use it whenever need be.
Check out this great video tutorial on "How to Make Turmeric Milk":
6. Arnica & Tiger Balm
Take care of yourself by massaging affected areas with Arnica & Tiger Balm several times / day. If there is no inflammation, you could also try Epsom Salt Baths - I love them. They feel ultimately soothing and healing, especially when living in a cold & dry part of Colorado. Otherwise, it is best to cool the muscles with ice packs.
Ask your physical or massage therapist for advice here and listen to your body!
RE:treat offers yoga inspired adventure retreats in beautiful mountain locations around the world. Our luxury yoga holidays focus on invigorating yoga practice, outdoor adventure, majestic alpine locations, delicious local food + exclusive accommodations. We want our guests to feel like they can confidently come on a solo vacation + have an amazing experience. In 2015 we will be hosting yoga retreats in Colorado + Europe. To view our 2015 yoga retreat schedule, click here. If you have any questions, please call us on 970-729-8108.