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Gary Foreman

Transformational Life Coach 

  • Writer's pictureGary Foreman

HOW I FIXED MY BACK INJURY WITH YOGA!

Updated: Jun 10

I sustained a back injury many years before returning to a YOGA, asana practice. The injury was labeled a herniated disc. I heard and read over time about how Yoga can improve the condition of these types of injuries, through a specific therapeutic method. Let’s go into that a little more. 


What is a herniated disc? 

My disc was herniated or compressed. This caused stress with the nearby and related nerves and muscles for a long time. Multiple chiropractors told me this was irreversible and I would have to compensate my activities, and exercise for the rest of my days. 

The disc is the spongy hockey puck-shaped pad in between protective bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are the bones that protect the nerves of the spinal cord. The entire structure assist with flexibility in the spine. If these disc shaped pads were not there the spine would be just one long protective bone and there would be very little if any movement.



The injury was sustained during a weight training movement. The tailbone came off the back supportive pad during a seated leg press and put enormous pressure on the low back causing something to “give way” to that pressure. That something was a disc. Although I didn’t feel anything at the time, within 30-40 minutes I could barely move. I almost had to crawl out of the gym and missed work that day. As you read on, you will see that this lasted for many years. 


How did this effect my day-to-day life prior to yoga? 

Pain is a signal by the nervous system that something is not quite right and different action or precaution should be taken. Pain brings your attention to that place. Sometimes sleeping was painful OR my sleep was interrupted as I unconsciously moved into a position that signaled the pain response. Sometimes my mind would “forget” that there was an abnormality in the lower back and I would lift something or move in a way the cause discomfort. 


For me, running was OUT. Lifting anything HAD to be done with the legs and NOT the back ever, (which is always good practice) and sometimes something as simple as looking over my shoulder or twisting would cause some irritation. I would occasionally do certain things without consideration of the injury and that would irritate or cause inflammation in that area. 


Daily recovery and maintenance could be: sleeping with a bolster under the knees, sleeping with a hot water bottle, Epsom salt baths, massage, chiropractic manipulation, essential oils, and modified movements. I kept going with physical activities. I did hear what the chiropractors were saying but I wasn’t going to let that slow me down AND, I was not going to make excuses. Education and self-care became very important. Beginning in April of 2008, a structured yoga class with well trained teachers was what I thought I needed and what I found! 



Things started to change more long term. The relief became a sign of more freedom of movement and hope. I loved the yoga; I loved the daily challenge and I saw a possibility of a profound overall change and more long-term results. It was muscle strength that I needed in the whole pelvic/low back area and that takes time! 


HOW did I fix it? 

Here’s where the physical Yoga comes in. 


Spine strengthening: Cobra, ½ Locust, full locust, plank, side planks, torso lift and leg lifts! Then, postures like awkward (chair), seated heat to knee (Janusarasana), seated stretching (pashimottanasana) and twisting were great for the low back. The benefits extended outward into the hips and the muscles of the pelvic girdle. Exercises like squatting, high lunge, and hip flexion are also great for movement, prevention of injury and maintenance. 




Pictured here is full locust 


Bridges, bird dogs, Russian twists and side crunches are also very valuable. When there is added strength to the front, there is also added strength and support available to the back! When one muscle group engages or contracts the opposing muscle group relaxes. And then you reverse. 


How to maintain

When we sustain a physical injury that is an indication that is not in alignment with what the body naturally wants to do. Or maybe we have had a lapse in judgement (mind) about the prep for the movement or the movement itself. The injury is the result of previous behavior to our physical form. As stated above, it is a signal. It is the awareness of that less desired path that leads or even begs us to changing direction. To change the physical condition, we need to change the behavior or process. I found something, a YOGA asana practice that seemed to provide improvement over time and continued effort. Since there was some improvement, that improved condition needs to be maintained. If we strengthen a muscle for much needed improvement, we need to keep it strong and functional. I believe that education is key, then consistently engaging with that knowledge. If we make a plan for improvement (in anything) and we are committed to the results, we must stick to the plan or reconsider the results we want. I felt like I had no choice. This changes a “want to” or “need to” into a “HAVE TO”. The results were present and valuable. NOW the practice is about self-care. 


Keep going to class or work closely with a trained and experienced teacher. AND then, throw a mat out on a floor in your home and so some extra cobras, spinal twists, locusts, torso lifts and whatever you like to do. This is maintenance and it will carry a long-term benefit!


In conclusion … 

Today my back injury is gone, as far as I am concerned. The professionals have said the disc will always be herniated or compressed. I may need an X-ray or MRI to confirm that, but at this point, it is not important. The only time I feel a little discomfort is when I haven’t practiced in a few days. Combine that with a long day of travel by airplane, or a long work day in front of the computer. That little pain is a signal to get busy … ASAP! 


We are all aging, every day. This is not gloomy, unless you think that aging is a bad thing rather than fact. To put it mildly, when we get a little older, things in our physical form change. The key is awareness and maintenance. Some say; “I can’t do this anymore …” OR “that is a painful challenge …” etc. I say; I need to do more now than I probably did in my 20’s and 30’s when the effects of aging were a little farther away. I felt pretty good then and I took it for granted. As we get a little older, we work smarter not harder. This is why I love the Yoga. You can do it as much as you want to until your last day on this planet. Have fun with it! 

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Gary Foreman

Transformational

Life Coach

CONTACT

(972) 639-7292
info@garyforeman.me

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Gary Foreman

Life Coach

Gary Foreman

Transformational

Life Coach

(972) 639-7292
info@garyforeman.me

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
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