Yoga & Ayurveda: Injuries

Injuries are bound to happen:

Here’s what we often do when they do happen:

  1. Ignore. It’s not so bad that we can’t work through it, so we keep doing what we’re doing. We might complain about the pain, but don’t do anything to facilitate good healing (this is often the pre-injury to: “I don’t know what happened, it just snapped out of the blue.”).
  2. Mask. It’s painful enough that we have to do something. We take pain killers, we use ice, we use sports tape, but then we’ve managed the pain and we either keep on speeding along (over-use) or we sit and elevate and rest (over-rest).

This comes back to basic Ayurvedic Concepts of: overuse, misuse, and underuse which lead to injury and imbalance. In both the above scenarios, we’ve done all we can to plug along in our lives and not actually have to deal with our injury.

Even injuries that send us to the hospital come with these three concepts: we mask so that we can ignore and overuse, underuse, or misuse instead of allowing ourselves the appropriate balance of rest and movement to heal.

I posted an article recently about RICE, which has been the standard protocol for injury: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate. Ayurveda takes a very different approach and science is catching up. In fact, ice and too much rest are all shown to inhibit the healing process.

The new modern acronym is MEAT: Move (including massage; get the gunk that is accumulating in the injury to move out), Exercise (appropriately) to continue to move the gunk and allow the injury to heal in response to movement, Analgesics to reduce pain as pain can inhibit the healing process (NSAIDS are shown to inhibit healing, but appropriate amounts of Tylenol or herbal pain management can be helpful–talk to your doctor about any medications), and Treatment which is open to a wide range of options (I kinda like Ayurveda and yoga).

Let’s talk about rest and ice vs. movement and exercise. We use ice to slow down the inflammatory response in the area, but that’s exactly what needs to happen. The inflammatory response is what our body is designed to do to come in and clean out bacteria and gunk. Movement and exercise aid this process instead of inhibiting it. Movement is vital to healing. Move the gunk out and don’t let the injured area get stagnate and stuck. Recent studies are beginning to show that ice actually slows down healing and recovering times are longer in injuries where ice is used.

Here’s what I’d suggest for the T for Treatment:

  1. Remove the excess gunk through massage and even gentle percussion with dry sand balls (this is especially useful in accumulation of fluids) or warm drying powders. This helps eliminate excess fluid build up (swelling).
  2. In acute pain, Ayurvedic Liniment is used locally to manage the pain (not on open wounds). For the acute healing stage Muriveena Oil is my oil of choice to help heal tendons, ligaments, and joint tissues.
  3. For long term healing, there are lots of oil options. Here are my favorite three. For Vata (vata is ALWAYS there in pain and injury) and Pitta type injuries (excess heat), Ksheera Bala Oil. For localized injury of muscles, bones, and joints, Mahanarayan Oil. For whole body injury/pain, Dhanvantaran Oil. Please reach out if you are unsure what to use.
  4. Apply heat after oil. This drives the oil in and helps the body do the injury clean up that inflammation is facilitating. Inflammation isn’t bad, it’s only “bad” when it’s flaring up inappropriately.

As always, these are general tips. Use these tips wisely and mindfully. If you need more support, please feel free to ask me any questions. If you need any of these items, I carry some of them and they can also be ordered through the links below.

If you’re in a lot of pain, or have concerns that you might have a bigger injury than can be managed at home, visit your doctor. There may be something more going on that needs to be explored. PT can also be exceptional for healing (movement). Ayurvedic treatments are a great complement to the healing process in acute injury.

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