Yoga By Mercedes Aspland / September 10, 2015 When you are an athlete at any level then suffering from an injury, depending on the severity can be devastating. Personally I am a runner and try to run 6 days per week which usually means I am running through some level of pain. Most of it is not serious and I am constantly looking for ways to manage and improve the situation. However recently I broke my toe and all of a sudden I cannot run at all. I may not be a professional athlete but it stills feel like torture and finding a way through is vital. Often injuries don’t just put you out of competing but they put you totally out of training and not only do you miss the competition but you feel your fitness levels dropping and you just feel you want to get your body active. Well this is where yoga can come in and make a massive difference. As a Yoga Sports Coach I am constantly devising training plans to suit my clients and this can include injured athletes. You may think that if you have an injury then you cannot practise yoga but this is not the case and in fact yoga can be the perfect tonic. The art to practising yoga through an injury is carefully working out a plan that will put no pressure on the injured body part at all. For instance, in my own case I cannot do any poses that involve standing because my toe really will not take it. As a result I have had to take everything down a level and am working on kneeling poses including things like kneeling warrior as long as I properly pad my bad foot I am fine. It has also given me the opportunity to work on my shoulders and my hips in a different way. The yoga practise that you do through an injury can have a large number of benefits that you may not have experienced without suffering the injury. By thinking this way it is a bit like playing The Glad Game (from Pollyanna) but getting through an injury is a lot about mental attitude and so the more positives you can take the better. Some of the benefits I see from practising yoga through an injury are listed below: 1. Keeping Moving – One of the most frustrating things about having an injury is the fact that your exercise levels drop and this can affect the hormones that the brain and body produce. Using yoga as a way to keep the body moving can help to overcome that and contribute to satisfying your desire to move. For me, I do not feel right if I don’t start the day off with some sort of physical activity so yoga can be a real tonic in this respect. 2. Challenging The Body – When you have an injury, even if you usually practise yoga, you may need to adapt your practise and work muscles that you do not normally use or use them in a different way. This can actually mean you experience greater physical benefits from your yoga practise than you did without an injury. It is always important to keep your practise varied but having an injury can mean you need to approach things in a completely different way and even a way that would not have been considered otherwise. 3. Keeping Control – When you have an athlete it is very tempting to try and rush back into training and competing before the injury is fully healed which can actually cause a reoccurrence of the injury. As way of an example, Mikel Arteta suffered a calf strain while playing for Arsenal at the start of the 2014/15 Premier League season.. He quickly came back and suffered the injury again which he again rushed his return and the result was he strained the muscle for a third time, and more seriously the final time that saw him miss most of the season. It is for reason like this that making sure you are really ready to go back into training and competing is vital. By regularly practising yoga through your injury you can develop a greater body awareness letting you know what is right for your body. It may also help you with developing coping when not involved in your sport and aid in patience which is necessary for all athletes with an injury. 4. Opening Possibilities – Although you may not be able to train at your port there may be other activities that you can do which will not stress your injury. By practising yoga and becoming aware of the movements you can do without putting pressure on your injury it could give you ideas of other things you can do to keep your fitness levels up. For example with my broken toe I cannot run but I can swim gently and possibly increase the intensity over time. This is another way of keeping my moving when I cannot practise my chosen sport. All of the above are ideas on some of the benefits you may get when practising yoga through an injury however it is worth mentioning that you should get advice from your doctor/physio/healthcare professional before doing any exercise when you have an injury. Also if you do want to practise yoga when you have an injury I would recommend working with a professional who has experience of working with athletes with injuries such as a Yoga Sports Coach, a yoga program that is incorrectly managed may do more harm. If you would like to know more about working with a Yoga Sports Coach then you can reach me on 07841 363 045 and I would be happy to discuss how I can help.