Nursing an Injury: The Yogi Way
You may have read Part 1 of this post, Yoga Injuries: How They Happen & How to Avoid Them, and here's the follow up on how to nurse an injury once it's already occurred. There are countless ways to help yourself heal once you're hurt. What I'm providing in this post are some things you can do at home to nurse yourself back to feeling strong yet limber in your yoga practice.
TRIGGER POINT RELEASE
This is one of my favorite ways to decompress tired, sore, or overworked muslces. There are a lot of great resources online that can guide you to identifying the source of your pain. Once you can generalize the area, you can find the specific areas within the group of muscles that are radiating pain to the surrounding areas. One of the tools I love is the Body Back Buddy, which is that odd-looking cane pictured to the right. With this tool, you can get into all your knots and tight spots, especially in your back and upper shoulders. You can also use tennis balls, lacrosse balls, or whatever you have and just rest your body weight into it. Once you find a trigger point, stay there for about 30-60 seconds and BREATHE! Your breath literally tells your body that it's okay to relax and let go.
EPSOM SALT BATH
I've blogged about the power of a good bath with Epsom salt before (read it here), but it's worth throwing into this post becuase it totally helps with sore and tired muscles. Add a couple cups of this to some hot bath water and soak for at least 15-20 minutes. Just this past weekend, my quads and hips were sore from a tough hike. ONE bath, and I got out feeling noticeably less sore. The bonus about this "healing" method is the extra benefits from zoning out in the bathtub for awhile: since most people don't bathe with their electronics, it's a good reason to escape from technology and the rest of the world - just for a little while.
NATURAL CREAMS & BALMS
There are a lot of creams and balms on the market aimed at soothing achey joints and sore muscles. Unfortunately most of these products are stuffed with chemicals and artificial ingredients - remember how our bodies absorb almost 70% of what we put on them? I always aim to use all natural products, and here are a couple of my favorites. Sombra Cool Therapy gel is great because it's not oily or greasy and it works fast. Depending on the nature of your injury, you might prefer warm therapy. Sombra's got that too. Another great remedy for pain is Arnica - the ibuprofen of the homeopathic world. It comes in a variety of mediums - creams, gels, balms, oils, pill form. You can find which type works best for you, but I prefer the topical stuff - something about a little self-massage on an injury feels good. Keep an eye out for an Arnica balm from Sage & Spry if you're in the Marquette area - homemade and helpful! Support local when you can. :)
There you have it! Some of my favorite ways to self-heal. Not listed are the obvious: a great massage, plenty of water, and perhaps the most important part: NOT USING THE INJURED BODY PART! This means if you tweaked your knee, or you pulled a hamstring, it's NOT a good idea to practice yoga asanas that demand energy from those body parts. You have to take it easy if you want to heal. If that means never straightening one of your legs in down dog for an entire month, so be it. Listen to your body's cues and honor what your body is telling you. Even when you're not injured, this is a good idea. Take care of yourself!