Written by Guest Blogger:
Sports Injuries and the Healing Power of Yoga
Sports injuries are far more common than you think – from 2011 to 2014, a reported 8.6 million people ages five and up sustained a sports-related injury. We all know that rest and ice are the most common remedies for an injury, but gentle stretching is recommended for even the most common sports injuries such as shin splints, pulled muscles, and pain/soreness. Stretching is the number one way to prevent injuries in the first place too, so why not start incorporating a little bit of yoga in your life as a healing method and preventative measure?
Natural Pain Relief/Healing
Whenever we feel an ache or a pain, the first inclination is to reach for a painkiller so that we can continue on with our day. For athletes, painkillers can quickly become a part of the routine to promote performance and recovery, with 60 percent of amateur athletes reporting the frequent use of painkillers. Oftentimes athletes adopt the mindset that they need to play through the pain, but there are consequences. Unfortunately, this increases the risk of addiction and drug abuse in even the most seasoned athletes. However, yoga is a natural method athletes can take part in to relieve pain and promote healing naturally.
When practiced regularly, yoga can increase recovery time after strenuous workouts and practices, increase range of motion, stretch sore muscles, and increase your concentration. Stretching is like breathing to an athlete, but according to Active.com, “Yoga goes beyond simple stretching by working the muscles and joints through all ranges of motion–activating the little-used muscles that support the primary movers.” By combining yoga with physical therapy, athletes can not only heal their injury, but their mind. A sports injury can be seen as a setback or obstacle, taking a toll on mental well-being – not to mention it is extremely frustrating. Yoga can enhance mindfulness, helping you to channel the anger and frustration you feel into motivation and self-improvement.
Find the Right Method
All yoga isn’t created equal, and an Internet search can leave you feeling a little overwhelmed by all the yoga-related information. There are various types of yoga such as Restorative that focuses on relaxation, breathing-focused, fast-paced Vinyasa, and Hatha, which involves standing and seated poses and is great for beginners. It is best to keep in mind that some forms of yoga are a workout in themselves, and can be strenuous, so when you are deciding which type of yoga to try, consider whether your goal is to strengthen or recover. For example, Vinyasa could be used for cross-training to improve core strength and overall movement that a typical, repetitive training workout doesn’t address. However, if your training schedule is already packed with lots of high intensity workouts, Restorative yoga can help quiet your mind and central nervous system.
When you first begin practicing yoga, you might find it helpful to take a few classes with an instructor first to prevent further injury. Some yoga poses are more difficult than others, so the most beneficial yoga session will be one that is in line with your skill level. The goal is to be challenged, but not so much that you risk further injury or being put off by yoga all together. It will take time and a little experimentation to the find the right class and instructor. Start by telling the instructor what you seek to get from your yoga session, and he or she will be able to point you in the right direction.
Yoga is a wonderful way to promote healing after a sports injury, as well as relax your mind. Once you learn the proper way to practice it, you can start incorporating some yoga poses into your daily stretching for improved performance and state of mind.