I have had this conversation with several clients over the last few weeks and I wanted to share it here.
Have you gone to a class recently unsure of wether practicing is the best thing for that niggle in your shoulder / lower back?
Have you late cancelled a class because you haven’t wanted to ‘slow down’ the rest of the group?
Are you worried you might not be able to attend an upcoming retreat because of an injury?
I want to reassure you, help you understand the root cause of your injuries and shine a light on how classes might be able to help you when you are injured.
Where is my pain coming from?
Firstly, you need to identify the type of pain you are feeling and understand where the this is likely coming from.
- Acute Pain from Incident / Trauma – If you can remember when the pain started it is likely to fall into this category. Eg a falling over or tripping up, moving quickly and feeling a sudden pain, repetitive stress or over use. With these incidents / trauma there will be an inflammatory response going on in the body, this is your bodies own perfect way of healing any wounds / injuries. The length of recovery here depends on severity, but when the body is in this state any trying to recover it is best to avoid any intense exercise. It may also be wise to see someone who can double check nothing is broken or torn.
- Niggling Pain from Musculoskeletal Imbalance or Strain – Maybe it feels like you pain has crept up on you? Or is presents its self with certain movements but doesn’t bother you all of the time? Eg – Discomfort in the back or shoulder after a long day at work, pulling in the knee after you have walked or ran for a certain length of time. This is likely an imbalance of tension in your muscles or poor posture. Imagine your muscles like guide ropes on a tent (your skeleton is the tent), now imagine some of the guide ropes being too tight and pulling too much causing pain OR being too weak that your tent starts leaning the wrong way.
- Constant pain, fatigue, weakness from STRESS – It might feel like there is no reason for that constant headache, constant tension in your shoulders or pain brought on from maybe the lightest of workouts / jobs at home.. STRESS. It lowers our pain threshold, causes tension in the bodies soft tissue and alarmingly inhibits out ability to take on board good nutrition and sleep well (THE BIGGEST AID WE HAVE TO HEALING).
**this blog doesn’t replace the diagnosis / advice of a professional if you are unsure of what is going on in your body I am simply trying to help you along the way**
Can I go to class?
Now you have identified where the problem has come from you can decide wether going to a class will be safe / beneficial. When I talk about classes I am referring to Yoga or Pilates (if you are experiencing pain of any kind I would be avoiding anything super intense or fast paced).
As a general rule I would say anything you refer to as ‘acute pain’ practice isn’t for you right now, your body needs to rest and recover then you can plan (with a trainer or therapist) a return to exercise. This doesn’t mean you cant still practice mindfulness *all the rage at the moment and for good reason* > the perfect time to utilise our meditation and breathing exercise videos.
For Niggling Pain from Musculoskeletal Imbalance or Strain class may well help.
Speak to your teacher or trainer about where you feel the problem and they will help you focus your efforts on addressing this. If the imbalance is due to tension specific exercises will help open up and release the areas that are holding on. If the problem is due to weakness specific exercises will help you rebuild strength and support.
- Pain in the shoulders or upper back – likely your chest & neck need stretching, opening and releasing whilst your posterior shoulders and spinal extension muscles need strengthening.
- Pain in the lower back or hips – likely your psoas and hip flexors need stretching, opening and releasing whilst your core and glutes need strengthening.
Over all Yoga will help you create space so your body can almost ‘realign’ its self, sounds like a bold claim but you can get there. And Pilates will help you carry yourself taller and stronger and do wonders for preventing future injury.
For Constant pain, fatigue, weakness from STRESS you want to choose your classes carefully and drop the ego.
You want to choose classes that are more gentle whilst still being strong (strong doesn’t have to mean a million moves a minute, strong can be slow). This gentle style of practice will allow you to build strength whilst bringing you out of an over active sympathetic nervous system (flight and fight) and into a more nourishing parasympathetic nervous system.
You also need to drop the ego, you need to go to class knowing that if you only do 50% of the practice because your body needs to sit out half of it then that’s okay. Something is better that nothing, and you are there to keep your body ‘ticking over’ not break world records.
Keeping up a little exercise during this time (a walk, a gentle yoga or pilates class) will also help promote better sleep and THIS IS THE MEDICINE.
I hope this blog starts to shine a light on things, our bodies are very complex but when we understand how and why we are moving and the strength / space this can bring about it is magic. Please reach out, email me and ask about any injuries or concerns you have with practicing at the moment – I am here to help!
Keep mindfully moving, Jess xx