Many ambitious exercisers have been there: Launching into a new or devoted movement practice only to find ourselves injured and frustrated down the road. Injuries can be confusing, demoralizing, and well, painful. Movement-related injuries don’t tend to pop up out of nowhere, unless you’ve talking about an injury that can be pinpointed to a specific event, an acute injury. Chronic pain and injury that develops from overuse, improper alignment and posture is often more difficult to pinpoint.
Here are a few clues that might signal that trouble is ahead and help avoid injury, even if you’re feeling good and strong now:
#1- You’re getting stronger but losing range of motion and mobility.
After spending a few years working in a health club and fitness center, I’ve seen a lot of different bodies and a lot of different ways of exercising. Losing mobility while still “making gains” on the weight floor or in your movement routine is a major red flag. Loss of range of motion and mobility is often accompanied by muscle imbalance, where people are adapting their form and equipment to accommodate. I see this most commonly in shoulders with hand weight exercises, but also in yoga with postures like chaturanga and side-plank (vasithasana).
Simply: This is not good. Long term, the imbalance will likely result in injury and poor posture.
Why take fitness advice from a Yoga teacher? I wasn’t always a Yoga teacher. Bull-dozing through pain and injury finally got me to seek a deeper mind-body connection, one I found through Yoga. As my skills grew, so did my realization that good Yoga form is simply good form, whether you’re bending down to tie your shoes or to pick up a 200-pound weighted bar. All movers can learn from each other: Good and bad.
Seeking practices that build mind-body connection help us to examine blind spots in our vision and subtle cues that might be signaling troubles ahead. Mind-body practices like pilates, yoga and related tools can help build the connection to avoid injury while supporting general well-being.