Have you wondered if yoga might help you?
Yoga has become the "in thing" over the last few years, and you only have to do a quick search online to see everything from traditional styles of yoga, to beer yoga, chicken nugget yoga and goat yoga! (Not even kidding!)
But is yoga a good option if you have pain?
Here's a lot of reasons I like yoga as a pain-friendly exercise..
Low Impact Movements
Many yoga sequences are slow, gentle, low impact movements. There's no need for jumping, running, hopping, or other high energy movements that can put a lot of force through your joints. Moving in these slow, controlled ways can help keep your muscles and joints happy and healthy.
Improve Your Balance
Practicing yoga can challenge your balance, it can be a little tricky at first if you're not used to shifting your body weight or if your proprioception is a little out. But practice makes perfect, and by improving your balance you can reduce risks of things like trips, falls or rolling your ankles.
It Can Be A Full Body Work Out
Unless the class specifically is targeting a certain area, most of the time you'll get a pretty well balanced work out for your whole body. You'll also be doing stretching and strengthening moves without needing to push yourself too hard. Of course, there are many types of yoga classes, and some are designed to be much more physically challenging, so if you have pain choose a gentle class like a Slow Flow or Yin style, and talk to your yoga teacher about any limitation you have so they can keep an eye on you if they need to.
Exercise naturally produces amazing brain chemicals that help reduce our stress hormones. Combine that with mindful breathing, purposeful movement, and the calming environment and you have a very powerful stress buster!
So Many Choices!
There are just so many choices in where, when and how to practice. Yoga studios are abundant in Melbourne. But with the internet, YouTube and smart phones, you can also choose to practice at home, at the beach, in the park, literally anywhere with enough space to roll out a mat. Online classes also means that you can pick the length of class you can manage on the day, even if thats just 5 minutes per day.
Join A Community
By joining a class at a studio, you can meet people who are there for similar reasons. A lot of studios also offer memberships to make it affordable to go regularly, and run workshops or events.
Build Great Habits
By booking in for the same yoga class each week, you create a routine. Even one class a week makes a difference! Its your You Time, your time to move your body, push thoughts out of your head, breathe a little deeper, and know that you've nourished your body and brain.
You Can't Win At Yoga
There's no prizes or championships for yoga. No medals for being the most flexible. Winning isn't your purpose in yoga, you can just be exactly how you are on the day and move your body in a way that feels good. Some days you'll feel more or less mobile, but its all about you, not the person next to you.
Modify The Moves To Suit You
A lot of poses have different stages, and its unrealistic to expect to jump straight into the most advanced version of a pose. Speak to your teacher and they can modify poses to make it gentler and more comfortable for you. Taking a modified position that isn't painful is always better than forcing yourself into an advanced position that hurts.
Want to try yoga, but you're not sure where to start? If you're local to our Knoxfield clinic, then my favourite yoga studio near us is Hark Yoga on Burwood Hwy, Ferntree Gully. You can try an intro pass for $30 for 14 days of unlimited classes - personally I can highly recommend their Body & Mind classes, its a great combination of movement and meditation.
Hark Yoga also have a 21 Day Challenge starting on 2nd September, and we're contributing some Myotherapy gift certificates to the goodie bags!
If you've chosen to see a Myotherapist, theres a good chance that you've got a pain or injury that you're concerned about and you know that it needs more than just a bit of a massage.
There are some cases where follow-up may not be needed. But for the majority of pain conditions or injuries, the best long term pain relief comes from a series of treatments specifically designed for you by your Myotherapist.
Why do I want to see you for a follow-up treatment? Let me tell you all of the reasons!
Seeing how you responded to the treatment
This one is pretty self-explanatory. When you receive a myotherapy treatment, you might respond well, or you might not. A follow-up allows us to check in and see how you recovered, and how the original problem is going. This lets us know which treatment techniques to keep using because they were effective for you, or which ones to drop from your treatment plan.
Checking progress with at-home care and exercises
Most clients receive either suggestions for at-home care and modifications and/or exercises. During your follow-up appointment, we can check in and see how these changes went for you.
Found yourself struggling to do a particular exercise? We can prescribe an easier alternative until your strength or balance improves.
Forgot how to do one of your stretches, or not sure if you’re doing it right? This is our opportunity to review it for you.
Getting to the root cause of the original issue
For most people, one treatment isn’t going to fix the issue completely. In most cases, there is an underlying cause that needs to be looked into.
This is particularly important for those with chronic conditions and chronic pain. There are multiple contributing factors to chronic symptoms and pain.
Unfortunately, we can’t address all of those factors in just one session! That’s why follow-up appointments can make all the difference.
Helping you achieve long-term health goals
Do you dream of running your first marathon? Or maybe you want to do an obstacle course with your friends? Perhaps you just want to chase the kids around the park and not pay for it later?
Whatever your long-term goals are, we can work on them during a follow-up appointment.
Follow-up sessions can really pay off when it comes to long-term goals, even if you experience chronic pain. One of my long-term clients with a chronic pain condition recently achieved her goal of going back to full-time work. She also goes to F45 several days a week – talk about smashing goals!
Preventing future injuries
Unfortunately, once you’ve had one injury, you are more vulnerable to future injuries. But we can help to minimise the risk of this occurring through follow-up sessions.
During a follow-up, we can assess how strong and stable the surrounding muscles and joints are. Myotherapy treatments such as stretching, taping and exercises can all support the area while it heals and minimise the chance of future issues.
Ensuring that your injury or symptom doesn’t warrant further investigation
If you come in with some pretty impressive muscle tension or pain, it can be difficult to fully assess your situation. Your first session gives us a chance to release those muscles and reduce the pain.
But in some cases, tension and pain can be covering up a red flag sign or symptom. With a follow-up, we have the chance to investigate your concerns further. If we do see any red flags, we can immediately refer you to your GP or specialist to get it sorted.
Is it time for you to book your follow-up session? You can do that right here.
Anytime Fitness in Ferntree Gully are having a one day sale on Wednesday 21st August, and they've invited us along to talk to you about Myotherapy and how it can help with your training or recovering from an injury.
We'll be there from 5-7pm, and have some Myo vouchers to give away, as well as bringing some of the tools of the trade for you to see. Of course, Perry will be trying his best to get a work out in as well!
If you've been considering joining a gym, I can highly recommend Anytime Fitness. I go there myself and always find the place clean and neat, the staff are friendly and helpful, the personal trainers are happy to help you figure out how to use the equipment and they offer a selection of group classes that are free as part of your membership.
If you have pain, there’s a good chance you’ve used or been prescribed pain relievers. There is a lot of stigma around the use of pain relievers because of issues such as addiction or long-term health effects.
In my opinion, it’s ok to use pain relievers if you are experiencing pain, as long as its not the only pain relief strategy you're using - I like to see that you know why you have pain, and that you're making changes to any of the factors you can to reduce ongoing pain in conjunction with taking medication. Pain relievers can play an important part in injury recovery and pain management, particularly for those who experience chronic pain.
What are pain relievers, and what do they do?
Pain relievers are any form of medication that do exactly what the name says – relieve pain.
Different pain relievers work on different parts of the body to produce different pain-relieving effects. Some pain relievers such as ibuprofen stop damaged cells from producing inflammatory compounds, which can slow down the pain message. Others, like paracetamol, work directly on the brain to reduce how your brain perceives the danger signals.
You’ll often see pain relievers referred to as ‘pain-killers’. I avoid this term, because ‘painkiller’ implies that it totally and permanently eliminates your pain. But pain-relievers are a tool that reduce pain for a period of time. They can’t ‘fix’ your pain, but they can make you feel better for a little while, so you can continue to actively work on recovery through rehabilitation and treatment.
Pain relievers are part of your treatment plan
You can get all of the massage and myotherapy treatments, but sometimes, pain strikes when you aren’t able to book in a session. That is where pain relievers can come into play.
Often, pain relief is needed to allow you to get to sleep and stay asleep for at least a few hours. Sleep is when the body does its most healing, so good sleep is critical to long-term pain reduction. Research has also found that sleep deprivation can make you more sensitive to pain.
So if pain is keeping you awake, using pain relief may be the better option, rather than ‘toughing it out’ and lying awake.
The only thing I don’t recommend is relying on pain relievers as your only method of pain relief. Pain relievers by nature are temporary – they don’t fix the root cause.
Whether your pain is caused by physical damage, a sensitised nervous system, inflammation or something else, the only ‘fix’ is a plan that addresses the underlying issue. If you’ve experienced pain for longer than a week or two, it’s time to seek professional help.
If you’re using pain relievers long-term, speak to your GP
Pain relievers, like any other kind of medication, can have long-term health consequences and side effects. Even over the counter medications can be problematic long-term – that’s why they put oodles of warnings inside!
If you are needing to use pain relievers for more than a few weeks and it hasn’t been prescribed by your GP, make an appointment. They might be able to recommend a more effective prescription for your specific type of pain or offer you the safest option if you do require long term medication. At the very least, they know you are taking it and can monitor you, so they can spot any side effects in the early stages.
If you don't have a regular GP, come and meet Dr Wajib Dib at Together Medical on Ferntree Gully Rd in Knoxfield. Our treatment room is inside the Together Medical practice, and Dr Dib is a fully Bulk Billed GP with an interest in musculoskeletal health.
You can also ask for advice on medications from the Pharmacist at Knoxfield Pharmacy. We have a staircase with direct access into the pharmacy from our clinic reception.
Massage and myotherapy can play a supportive role in the healing journey if you’re experiencing chronic pain. At Simple Wellness Myotherapy, chronic pain is our passion. To book in an appointment, head to our booking page here.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.