Can I Practice Yoga After an Injury?

If you’ve ever hurt yourself while exercising, you know how intimidating it can be to start working out again. After an injury, the fear of re-injuring yourself tends to loom in the back of your mind. It makes it easy to think that exercising runs the risk of doing your body more harm than good, particularly if your previous injuries limited your mobility or led to chronic pain.

While it is healthy to keep your bodily well-being in mind, it’s also important to not let your fear of hurting yourself turn into fear or discomfort with your own body. At some point after an injury– once it has been okayed by a medical professional– it’s important to bring motion and exercise back to the body in order to prevent muscular atrophy. When done correctly, exercising a previously injured part of the body can even help prevent future injuries.

That’s where yoga can come in.

In a yoga practice at Your Yoga Louisville, you’ll be challenged to come to your edge– your fullest expression of a pose– but won’t be pressured to go beyond that point and risk straining your body.

Even if you need to extensively modify a posture, by simply attempting the pose and beginning to move your body into it, you’ll be using and stimulating your muscles and joints. Depending upon the nature of any injuries or mobility limitations, you may find that either a Yin or Hatha class is better suited to helping you reintroduce exercise and mobility for you.

Over time, utilizing your muscles and engaging in asanas which stimulate previously injured parts of the body will help to strengthen, align, and stretch those areas. This helps to protect you from re-injuring yourself and prevents stiffness, which is common after an injury.

Going Beyond the Body

Perhaps more important than the physical aspects of healing, a yoga practice teaches you to mindfully engage your body, moving with your breath and staying in the moment. By cultivating mindfulness in this way, it becomes easier to extend compassionate, healing thoughts to yourself.

Personally speaking, I began practicing yoga about a year after injuring my shoulder in a weightlifting accident. In the months leading up to beginning my yoga practice, I was afraid to exercise in any capacity. Doing any activity more intense than walking sounded like an impossibility, as I didn’t want to risk going back to constant aches and limited mobility in my arm. I harbored that feeling of resentment in my body, using my fear of reinjury to rationalize staying stagnant.

The result? More stiffness and achiness in the rest of my body, insomnia, a progressively worsening diet, and higher stress levels. For fear of harming my still-healing shoulder, I ended up harming the rest of my body.

Eventually, I got fed up with being so stiff enough to step into the studio. I started off practicing twice a week, and steadily became more comfortable using my shoulder. It didn’t take long to notice myself feeling stronger once again and having my full range of motion restored.  My body felt better, and, more importantly, I learned to feel better about my body.

So, if an injury or troublesome body part has kept you out of the studio, consider this blog post your permission slip to come by. As always, I want to give the disclaimer that it’s important to discuss any injuries or limitations with your instructor before the class starts just so they have a heads up. But once you’ve communicated any concerns with your instructor, all that’s left to do is listen to your body and do your best. The rest will fall into place from there.