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    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    In an Injury Rut? Quit Skimping on Your Rehab and How Yoga Therapy Can Help

    Being involved with outdoor sports, I am around lot of people who have or had injuries.  One thing that we all have in common is that we want to heal fast and get back at our activities and our lives.  However, if you want to fully heal from your injuries, you can't take short cuts, so it's best to have a holistic plan that involves both treatment and rehabilitation. 

    There are many treatments for an injury; examples are surgery, prolotherapy, acupuncture, or any other choice that involves a specialist doing something to your injury to help stabilize it.  Rehabilitation, such as physical therapy and/or yoga therapy can either follow or be included along with the treatments.   In both PT and YT, the purpose is for you to learn to move your body again using kinesiology principles that you learn from your therapist.  Then you move your body through the exercises in a pain free zone until it becomes engrained in your mind and body and you develop necessary strength and flexibility. 

    Yoga therapy is a tool for healing that looks at the whole person—body, mind, and spirit to achieve your goals.  So, in a yoga therapy session not only do you learn physical movements that you can do to heal your injury; but you learn better ways of breathing to release tension and create stability; and awareness exercises for your mind so that you can be aware of how you are holding yourself on a daily basis and during your activity.  You are also encouraged to look at what your injury means on a deeper level—what personality traits are causing you to move in such a way as to cause injury?  Are you rushing through a movement because you don't have proper technique?  Is your mind somewhere else, such as on the perceived outcome?  Are you tense and nervous?  Are you trying to move your body faster than you are able?  Do you constantly push yourself past exhaustion?  These traits are human nature and by becoming aware of them, they no longer will control you.  You can learn these things about yourself just by being mindful of how you do your physical exercises in a yoga therapy session.  The purpose of the session is to learn to slow down and pay attention to what you are doing so that you can hold your body in a way that is healthy and effective, and you learn how to observe where your mind is so that you can bring it into the moment and apply yourself fully.  

    Any injury rehabilitation is not a passive process and can take a few weeks to years.  Actually, it is a process that never ends.  I'm sorry, but there are no shortcuts in this step.  Saying that there is would be like saying you can become a great cyclist by going out one time, or that you can learn to climb or kayak instantaneously.  Just like the outdoor sports that we love, rehabilitating after an injury is a learning process.  If you skip steps, the only person that you cheat is yourself.  Plus, if done thoroughly and mindfully and with the appropriate therapist, your rehabilitation will probably make you better at your sport or activity than you were before!  

    So if you've recently been injured and you're cutting corners on your rehab, I encourage you start fully participating in it now!  You don't have anything to lose except the couch!

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