Body Solve’s latest idea was to build a new yoga studio and get everyone that comes in for Osteopathy, Sports Massage Therapy and Injury and Rehabilitation sessions to start doing regular Yoga each week to take control of their injury and reduce the amount of sessions that they need to manage their symptoms.
What are the facts and myths with Yoga then? Does it actually help injuries? Can it prevent injuries? Well, not all injuries are from overuse or repetitive strain. Of course, accidents happen and injuries that occur from an accident or incident cannot, unfortunately, be helped by Yoga (not completely true but for the most part it is true).
1 – Balance and strength.
Yes yoga improves your balance and strength – we won’t get too involved with the nitty gritty of it all here but by practising regular Yoga the bodies smaller proprioceptive muscles begin to be called into action. These smaller muscles then get stronger and allow you to become more stable in a certain body position. For example – raise one knee and stand on one leg (not at the top of the stairs or near a lava pit of course). Did you wobble? Ok go again and this time for 10 seconds longer. Did it get easier? Possibly a little. Now imagine doing that every day three times a day for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. It will definitely become easier, agreed? The brain begins to recruit the proprioceptive muscles to stabilise the foot, ankle, knee and hip by activating these muscles then of course builds strength over time and increases the ability of those muscles to balance the body on one leg.
So the regular everyday athlete that starts doing yoga a few times a week all of a sudden has more strength and balance in areas that weren’t there before. With that in mind next time the body of that person is put in an awkward situation for example – tripping over, falling off the bike, stepping off a curb awkwardly the chance of getting injured in these situations becomes slightly less.
2 – Even more Strength.
We’ve touched on strength briefly in the last paragraph or two. However, we haven’t spoken about it enough. Yoga is challenging, don’t think for a second it is easy because I can assure you it is not. There is a huge variety of different yoga styles, from the basic positions and flows such as sun salutations which are a lot easier to the much harder and more difficult aspects, such as the binds, twists, balance positions and inversions (everyone’s favourites, come on who doesn’t love a headstand)? If you’ve been to a class and didn’t like it then try another style, there is a huge amount out there and there really is something for everyone.
Being a keen surfer you would think that I’m generally in a reasonable condition, however only recently did I realise how much strength I lacked in specific areas that I would have expected to be strong in. Take the plank position or top of a press-up position; this is a key position in surfing. Going from a paddling position (flat on the board) to standing quickly, explosively and dynamically. I had my eyes opened in a recent yoga class I was shaking after only been in the plank position for maybe around 10 seconds, not great really when you consider how many pop-ups from prone (lying flat) to upright I do every day. With regular Yoga practice however I am already noticing improved control through the pop-up phase and already after only 3 weeks of yoga a few times per week I am much stronger in the core, balancing is getting easier and my strength in specific areas has definitely improved. Not to mention a hip and shoulder problem I was having is now near enough non existent
3. “I’m not bendy or stretchy enough for yoga”
One of the most common phrases I have heard since opening a yoga studio. Duh, it’s a no brainer – you don’t go to yoga because you are already bendy you go to become ‘bendier’. Think about it like this, did you require training to work in the position you are in or did you just rock up and be awesome at it already? What about that instrument you play now and then – remember the first time you picked it up? Were you immediately insanely good at playing it? Of course not! Yoga is the same, it’s challenging, it is always a challenge because you are always working against your own limits. If you can’t touch your toes do you think not practising touching your toes will help you touch your toes? With time and effort however it becomes easier, closer, and then you get it. Yoga is the same, there’s always something to work on and so it is always interesting. Oh so you can touch your toes already, can you get your head to your knees? How about can you put grasp your opposite wrist around the soles of your feet? Can you do a handstand? Ever wanted to? Yoga is for you, you are bendy but not as bendy as you could be.
4. I’m going to be the only guy there
Are you often the only guy in the gym lately? How many more women are hitting gyms, playing sports that were once considered male dominant? Women are boxing, they are doing mixed martial arts, and they are even cage fighting one and other. So don’t worry so much about what people think, even if you are the only guy in the room – no one even cares because they are too focused on not falling over or making a fool out of themselves. Honestly, don’t even let it enter your head.
5. “It’s Boring or it’s not for me”
I’ll admit – some styles of yoga and aspects of yoga aren’t for everyone, however, there are so many options. Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Bikram, Jivamukti, Anusara, Prenatal, Children's Yoga, Restorative yoga, yin yoga, yoga for back care, yoga for hip and knee health, power yoga, outdoor yoga, yoga on Stand up Paddleboards, water yoga, kundalini yoga (and breathe)! There honestly is something for everyone - if there is yoga for a cat or dog then trust us when we say there really is a style of yoga for you (honestly google yoga for dogs).
Yoga is great for a number of things, it keeps us moving when movement in this world is already limited by our phones, vehicles, sofas and every other man-made contraption under the sun. We as humans have anatomy that believe it or not is designed to move well. The shoulder alone has the ability to move in directions that most animals couldn’t dream of. Don’t waste your body sitting or being one dimensional. Get up and start moving – when the body is stationary for too long the muscles and joints become stiffened and less lubricated much like the machinery involved in a car engine. Begin to use it more regularly and what happens to both the car and our bodies? They operate better, less painfully, more enjoyably.
Going back to what we touched on at the start of the article. Yoga can be used as a preventative measure against injury. By having a body that functions better through movement be it yoga or another form of mobility training (animalistic flow, pilates, etc) It is also better at not becoming injured. Do you think a muscle that is stiff and tight has more or less chance of getting injured than a muscle that has good movement through a range of motion and isn’t tight and stiff? Of course, the answer is it has a hugely less chance of becoming injured. In the Body Solve Osteopathy and Sports Therapy clinic every single day we see patients coming in with symptoms and injuries that can be avoided, fixed and prevented by one thing and that is Yoga or a movement based training. At least nine out of ten of our patients at Body Solve are told by our team of professional Osteopaths, Sports therapists and Injury and Rehabilitation specialists to do Yoga or a form of movement training. I can bet only 1 out of every 10 follows the advice.
Start MOVING you Beautiful people.
Body Solve – Freedom Through Motion™