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Yoga After an Injury: Is it Safe?

Yoga after injury

After an injury, it’s hard to know when to return to yoga. If the problem has been caused by yoga, returning to the practice may feel a little daunting. Thankfully, yoga is an excellent modality for recovery, regardless of whether you were injured during yoga or elsewhere. After an injury, rest and recuperation are often needed. However, it’s important to still move your body. Elongating the muscles, the practice improves the range of motion and prevents the muscles from seizing up. With this in mind, putting on your yoga shorts after an injury is not only safe but also beneficial – providing that you follow these suggestions.

Avoid Recreating the Injury

After an acute injury to soft tissue, tendons, or ligaments, it’s safe to practice yoga as long as you’re not recreating the injury. For instance, if you’ve injured your knee, it’s recommended to avoid postures that place a strain on this area. For the injury to heal, intense pressure on the area should be minimised. Instead, you should focus on building your muscle strength through low-intensity asanas.

Practice Stability

After an injury, the best way to reduce the risk of re-injuring the area is to keep your movement stable. While it’s safe to practice yoga, avoid fast-paced vinyasa classes; instead, opt for a restorative class where you can focus on correct form. If you attend a class, it’s important to tell your instructor about the injury. This way, they can help you to modify each pose to create stability in the injured area.

Encourage Movement

During your practice, try to encourage movement in the injured area. If you don’t, the muscles will start to seize up, resulting in pain and loss of circulation to the area. That being said, it’s important to rest whenever you need to. If you start to feel pain, take a break or concentrate on a different area of the body. When recovering from an injury, discomfort is to be expected. However, it’s important to learn the difference between discomfort and pain. If necessary, consult a doctor or physical therapist about using stabilising medical devices during recovering. When used correctly, these can immobilise the affected area and allow it to heal.

Listen to Your Body

With any injury, patience is the key to recovery. To heal correctly, injuries take time and care. Listen to the advice of your instructor, but listen to your own body, too. As everybody is different, what worked for another student may not work for you. If you experience pain during practice, notify your instructor and stop immediately. Trust in your body’s ability to heal and look out for signs of inflammation.

Start with Meditation

After an injury, consult your doctor before returning to yoga. For the first few weeks, your doctor may advise you to avoid physical activity. If you’re itching to get back to the studio, try a meditation or Nidra class. Performed in a seated position, these classes are perfect for those recovering from an injury. Better still, they can help you to feel good mentally. Feeling better mentally is a huge part of feeling good physically, so a calming meditation class can work wonders.

Yoga after injury

Use a Restorative Class

When you feel ready to return to yoga, start off with a restorative class. If you’ve been immobile for a while, your muscles and joints may feel stiff. A restorative class will help to loosen the joints and muscles, without placing a strain on the affected area. With a number of props available, restorative postures can be adapted to suit your needs. As the class is slow-paced, you’ll have plenty of time to adjust each asana around your injury.

Notify Your Instructor

When you return to yoga, explain your injury to the instructor. If you arrive 15 minutes early, they can give you some tips for appropriate modifications before the class starts. If they’re aware of your injury, they can keep an eye on you during the session to make sure you’re staying safe.

Avoid Postures That Hurt

There is no healing benefit to pushing through pain, particularly if you are injured. Skip postures that cause pain to your injury, or practice a modified version of the pose. As soon as you start to feel pain, come out of the asana or remove pressure from the affected area. If you do opt out of a pose, use that time to rest or repeat the previous posture, providing that it feels comfortable to do so. If your instructor is aware of the injury, they may even suggest a modified version to practice.

Move onto Hatha Classes

When you’re ready to move onto standing work, try a gentle Hatha class. Ideal for those that are healing, Hatha classes are slow moving and focus on protecting people from injury. While they concentrate on strength and balance, they offer plenty of time to rest in between postures. Additionally, Hatha classes work on deep stretching. This is particularly beneficial for those suffering from a muscular injury. Much like restorative yoga, Hatha classes encourage the use of props. Allowing you to modify the asana, props are beneficial for those in recovery.

In Summary

If the right precautions are taken, it’s perfectly safe to use yoga after an injury. Before returning to physical activity, visit your doctor or physical therapist to diagnose the problem. Once you know the diagnosis, you can decide how long to wait before returning to class. When you’re ready to get back to it, ease into the practice with a restorative class. For best results, pack your yoga bag with a few props to modify the postures. This way, you’ll be able to adapt each asana to suit your injury.

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