At the moment by ‘going to class’ we are simply turning on zoom, whilst there are serious pros to this the cons are that your teacher can’t possibly watch what everyone is doing as they would in a studio.
I thought I might take a bit of time to highlight the 3 most common injuries I see from students who are new to yoga / pilates or unsure of their technique.
*injuries is a heavy word, some of these might progress to injury if your not careful but they actually just start of as discomfort / pain when you practice
Now despite the fact both yoga and pilates are gentle forms of exercise it doesn’t mean that they aren’t still very demanding on the body – especially if your new or your technique isn’t quite there. I don’t say this to scare you, in fact quite the opposite – I want you to be very aware of them so that you can avoid them. For the most part as long as you understand your alignment, what each asana / exercise is trying to achieve and how you can move with good support and strength you should be able to keep injuries at bay.
Pain in the WRISTS – this one is more prevalent in Yoga.
You are spending a lot of time on your hands in a dynamic / active yoga class, and unless you are a gym goer that can be quite new. I hate to say that a little bit of an ache is simply part and parcel of getting use to the practice. That achey feeling is usually just restriction in the range of motion or muscular fatigue and weakness – that will become much less apparent as you strengthen not only your wrists but your upper body.
Now if the ache is more of a discomfort I would ask you to watch out for a few things.
One – When your in downward dog is your first finger knuckle lifting? You want to avoid that and push all 10 fingers, all 10 knuckles and the palms of both hands down into the ground. You want the the whole hand taking the weight of the upper body.
Two – Work on your wrist mobility. If you just stop reading this now and just pretend you are typing on a key board – when you do that, you should notice that your wrists are flopping / flexed forward (and think how long you spend on a keyboard!!). To help our yoga practice we need the reverse of that, we need wrist extension! If we are more familiar with that extended position there will be less discomfort and pain. So practice, mobilise the wrist and stretch the forearms out to be more comfortable here.
Pain in the NECK – this one is more prevalent in Pilates.
I sympathise with you on this, when I started practicing pilates I was that person saying ‘my neck hurts’ and I couldn’t workout how to stop straining. I would say it is half not having the right technique and half weakness / strain that comes from the hours you spend on the device that you are reading this email on.
The pain creeps in most when you are lead on your back, you take your hands to the back of your head and you lift your shoulders off the floor (into a curled up C shape position ready for abdominal work). It is because your neck and neck muscles are straining to lift and hold you there – I want you to use your abdominals to lift your shoulders off the floor, not your neck.
Next time you are in class and you roll up from the floor (or you can give it a go now) really draw the naval in, lift with the abdominals and once you are curled up try to relax the weight of your head and make sure your hands support the head rather than the muscles of the neck feeling they have to do the work.
I also find it simple yet helpful to send your awareness away from the neck and down to your abdominals, your legs or wherever the exercise should be having impact – ‘where you attention goes, energy flows’ and I find that in its self helps the muscles of my neck relax.
Pain in the ass – AKA Hamstring Tendonitis
Tendonitis is inflammation and irritation of a tendon. Now for yogis (and pilates people too) who stretch a lot, there is a constant pulling on their hamstring insertions point. That point is right in the base of your bottom / on the tip of your seat bone – hence this quite literally presents as a pain in the ass!
The second reason you might refer to this as a pain in the ass is because it really hangs around for a-lot longer than most niggles. Because it is stretched every time you practice and simply every time you bend down to put on your shoes or even just sit down at your office chair it takes so long to recover.
You want to avoid this one rather than fix it! So when you practice think about engaging the front of your thighs (quadriceps) and imagine lifting your knee caps up – this will help you relax the back of the legs by working the front (a lot of our muscles work in pairs!). When your in downward dog don’t force / push your hips back into that hamstring area and instead think about drawing naval in and lift up through the hips – imagine you have a belt loop on the back of your pants and someone is lifting you up from that belt loop. Let that be how your hamstrings lengthen.
The other component is strength – don’t just stretch make sure you are doing some strength / resistance work and putting strain through you hamstrings in order to prepare them.
If this does get you. You need to rest, maybe ice or take anti inflammatories to help it settle… and then rest again! I also recommend a certain cushion to sit on when you are at your desk (if you have a desk based job) so reach out if you are in need of more support there.
I hope these help. If you have any other questions about your practice, maybe injuries or ‘how to’ then let me know and I shall do my best to answer them.