I am prone to injury. Even in yoga, I tend to pull a hamstring or hip flexor with even the simplest of poses. How can I warm up to avoid these injuries that have been coming on as I've aged?
Prone to Injury
Dear Prone to Injury,
Let’s talk about alignment, props, and the ways in which your joints can support your musculature. Specifically, let’s talk about forward fold. Forward fold is the perfect warm-up pose in terms of practicing safe alignment in order to prevent injury. Within the first five minutes of every class I teach, there is a standing forward fold(uttanasana). I do this for a reason outside of just having a solid Surya Namaskar A in my sequence. I do it to see how people are taking care of themselves in their practice, or rather how they are not.
There are always at least four people who lock their knee joints and round their spines with their arms hanging down like zombies. This communicates to the pelvis that there is no space and it tells the hamstrings that they have to make up for it. When I cue for people to gently bend their knees and drape their belly over their thighs, two things happen: the backlines of the hyper-extended legs soften and the pelvis has more space to tilt in a way that lifts the tailbone toward the ceiling. All of the extra space created provides a gentle stretch to the hamstrings while deepening the hip crease enough that the hip flexors aren’t under stress. Occasionally, I will scoot two blocks at their tallest height under the hands of a particularly stiff yogi.
This is just an example of why what you do in even the simplest of postures matters for the rest of your practice. The forward fold becomes the rest of your practice. You must come into it as mindfully as possible in order to avoid potential injury. Use your props. Slow down your practice. Focus on your alignment and your breath and how the two feed off of one another. If you set yourself up for success, you will reap the rewards and ensure longevity both on and off of your mat.