5 tips to reduce risk of injury and avoid having to stop moving completely
So, you are living your best life on the mat, feeling pretty fit and enjoying the mood boosting effects of your workouts.
Or you are motivated to get started and take a couple of sessions, optimistic about a future of strong core and flexible back.
Then the injury strikes. A pulled muscle, a sharp sensation in your knee, your back getting stuck.
Now, realistically these thing happen even to the most knowledgeable and attentive people (how many athletes go through far worse accidents!).
Yet, we can definitely reduce the risk to have to struggle with pain, stop moving and spend lots of time and money at the physio or taxing our stomach with Ibuprofen.
Here are my top tips, hope it helps!
1️⃣ Choose consistency: You will be surprised to know how effective in reducing the risk of injury it is to spend just 10 minutes each day/20 minutes a couple of times a week focusing on mobility.
Mobility is all about cultivating flexibility, strength and motor control at the same time, something we adopt in FLOW (think about the juicy circular movements in your hips, shoulders, ankles we often practice) and EMPOWER (all the repetitive twists, cat/cows, etc.. we start the sessions with to go safe in our core work). If you are short in time, incorporate Transformative Movement Essentials 20 minutes videos in your training routine, you will feel the difference!
2️⃣ Follow an intelligent sequencing: whether you are practicing Yoga, Pilates or Barre, make sure you don’t jump into the most complex and demanding poses/movements without having properly warmed up and prepared your body for them (which includes waking up your brain too). This is what in Yoga we call Vinyasa Krama (the art of putting things together one after the other in a skilful way) and it takes lots of understanding of anatomy and physiology: if you keep on getting injured consider if your teacher/trainer is effectively helping you create the foundations for your practice or just throwing shapes at you in a way that feels unsafe and rushed.
3️⃣ Strengthen not only every muscle, but also your body mind connection. A movement routine which is balanced and well rounded (meaning, it reduces the risk to overdo with specific movements/body areas to the point you start compensating and become weaker in others) is key in injury prevention, especially when we are not in our early twenties any more. But fostering a deep inner awareness, being mindful of our alignment and inner sensations is equally important!
That’s what we do in RESTORE: paying attention with purpose and getting to learn our mindful edge, a place where there is no tissue damage, yet a positive stress is applied to muscles and joints to keep them healthy. Once you have a sharp body awareness, the chances to miss cues of danger from your body decrease considerably, so you will stay in your optimal and safe zone at all times.
4️⃣ Adopt progressive overload: if you are just resuming your movement practice after a break or you are picking up something pretty new for your body, go for lower repetitions, intensity and speed at least for 3-5 sessions (more is also fine). Notice how you are feeling during and after your practice and at all times make sure you stay away from sharp pains. As your body and mind build up the right neuromotor pathways and your muscles adapt to the effort, you will eventually be able to go through the movements in a more fluid way and to sustain bigger efforts. In EMPOWER for instance, even if you are an experienced Pilates practitioner, going full on with the most challenging options when your body is not ready after break, might put you at risk and overwork your already strong muscles, leaving the weaker ones disconnected. That's why you will always be offered options to freely choose from for any exercises we do.
5️⃣ Adapt, adapt, adapt, not necessarily stop. Over my 13 years teaching and more than 33 training regularly as a dancer, I have seen far too many people (including myself) stopping moving completely when something was off (strained neck, dodgy knee, wrists discomfort) because of the fear of feeling worse. Now, stopping doing what hurts is very wise. But stopping moving all together, unless your doctor told you so (and even then I would ask for a second opinion, but that’s another story), most of the times is not only unnecessary, but also counterproductive.
Keep moving in any other way that feels good, maintaining the injured area at rest or reducing the range of motion or load: this will not only avoid you are getting stuck in another place, but it will allow for the mental and emotional benefits of movement to still be there for you in this stressful moment.
Ok, everything sounds great, but I am not sure I know how to put this into practice on my own, you might think.
No worries, this is exactly what we cover in August in Transformative Movement Method: you will explore knee, neck, wrist friendly practices, and get to ask me any questions you might have to help you move around your injuries, while still enjoying your time on the mat.
In the mean time, check these tricks to practice Yoga without straining your wrists (click on the picture or here):