Practicing While Injured
Practicing while injured happens to the best of us. It is not uncommon to feel a little bit of soreness during and after working out. In fact, when you first begin a regular practice or introduce new poses to your current practice, this is expected. We remind ourselves, and our students, time and again that there is a difference between productivity and pain. But nevertheless, an injury may occur. Whether it is directly related to your exercise routine or something that happened at work or home, it is important to know how to continue to practice safely or when to take time off and allow your body to heal.
My story of practice and pain
I have taught yoga, pilates, barre and functional fitness for years. I teach several times a day, six days a week, and try to practice regularly. It is rigorous but my body is strong, flexible, willing and able to keep up with this lifestyle…Until one day it wasn’t.
First I noticed that my knee was aching towards the end of the day and slowly it began to ache throughout the day. Finally, it came to the point where I was icing it nightly and finding little relief. I don’t know why I let it go on so long or progress to the point that I did. I stopped to take a good, hard look at everything I was feeling physically, and it wasn’t good.
The pain wasn’t just found in my knee. My hip was burning, my back was tight and throbbing, my neck was stiff, and it felt like a chore to hold up my own head. I was distraught over the fact that I may have ignored my body’s calling—even crying—out to me for help. I was afraid of the possibility that I would have to give up the lifestyle that I not only loved but also made my living by. Mostly, I was angry at myself for being so careless and taking my physical health for granted. Why did I ignore what my body asked for and desperately needed?
Get Advice, Get Help
It was time to slow down and make some drastic changes. I wasn’t able to give up my livelihood, so I had to learn how to continue practicing while injured in a way that allowed healing, rest and restoration to take place. I spoke with trusted and knowledgeable professionals.
First up, my chiropractor who has worked with my family for years. When I made the first appointment I was embarrassed to go. How crazy is that? To be embarrassed that I needed help, that I was hurting. This is why I had ignored it for so long. I was embarrassed that I had allowed myself to get hurt and ignored my own advice which I give to dozens of people each and every day; “honor your body, accept limitations as they change from day to day, and choose what is right today”. My chiropractor corrected misalignments, gave a protocol of after-care, and put limits on how I should practice to continue to heal and feel better. She recommended I avoid some poses, including poses that I love, and modify other poses so I could continue to practice safely.
Next up a friend who is also a doctorate candidate in exercise science and injury prevention. We met at the studio and discussed how I was feeling and how I could keep working out and working as a professional in the fitness industry. She took a look at my form and gave feedback on where I needed to put more emphasis on alignment and engagement. It took an effort to set aside my pride. I am a professional, I know what I am doing, I teach other people to do these things well, but here I am hurt and tired and needing to be corrected in order to get better.
Stay the Course of Self Care
At the end of these meetings and with continued care I am happily on the mend. Next step is a much overdue massage! I love massage simply for the relaxation of it, but I LOVE massage because it does so much good. Every time I find myself stepping into the therapy room and catching up with my old friend I find myself saying to her as much as to me—it has been way too long.
Don’t ignore the little things and don’t put off seeking help and self-care. Our bodies can only be strong, flexible, willing, and able to do the things we ask of them if we listen to what it is being asked of us in return.