When I wrote about my hamstring injury last year, I was totally self-absorbed. Of course! It was my first yoga injury and I had a lot to learn about all aspects of handling it. A voyage of discovery into working with a physio, starting to understand some anatomy (what are the hamstrings anyway?) and how muscles work (eccentric, concentric, and isometric stretches, loading and lengthening etc.). A voyage of inner discovery also in handling fear, pain, and frustration. And a voyage of discovery in how yoga might have got me into this mess, but yoga also helped get me out of it, as I drew on everything I practice in terms of self-regulation and self-awareness, patience and non-attachment.
I’m reminded of this experience as I talked today to a colleague dealing with post-operative rehab. He’s getting back on his feet literally and finding the process boring and frustrating. He joked that he had no internal resources and needed to get out and about to find entertainment and distraction. Well that sounds pretty much like modern living!
So of course he did the classic behaviour: handle it really well for a couple of weeks until impatience strikes (masquerading as strength and confidence), then he overdid it and is now suffering a setback and feeling scared and in pain. Most of all he’s indignantly surprised by this because he didn’t feel any pain while he was active.
I explained the basics I understand it, that there is a latency period in muscles and connective tissues that means you don’t necessarily feel any ill effects at the time (unless you suffer an acute injury!). So you have to build up slowly and carefully, monitoring any increase in activity and increasing only every few days if there are no adverse effects.
He asked me if I was medically qualified. The answer is obviously no, not at all.
And he asked me if his surgeon was medically qualified. Indeed, I should hope so!
After these rhetorical questions I braced myself expecting a tetchy request to back off with my anecdotal advice and half-baked suggestions. But instead he complained bitterly that the medical staff should have explained this to him. Indeed they should! I joked that if I were in charge I’d have prescribed a course of meditation to sort out his inner resource before I let him anywhere near the physiotherapist!
This is also a timely reminder to me to take it steady with my hamstrings. The past fews weeks I’ve finally (yes, after a whole year!) been able to practice without registering any discomfort at the old injury point. I’m sure this is the time when I’m most likely to overdo it and cause another injury. So I’m telling myself to continue easing into everything gently. My watchword is pade pade (पदे पदे) — which means both “step by step” reminding me that progress can be slow and that’s OK, as well as “in every step” reminding me to keep conscious all the time in every movement.