It was a Monday in August after I returned from vacation when I began experiencing pain from a pinched nerve in the C8-T1 area of my spine. At first it simply felt like I had an overworked or tight muscle behind the shoulder-blade. Then came an ache in my triceps and forearm. Within a couple of weeks, I was in near constant pain that at times was unbearable. Working at a computer and driving a car aggravated the symptoms. It hurt to lay down. I couldn’t sleep. I was a mess.
I began work with an amazing physical therapist, Dr. Glynn Hunt, who I knew could help me but the first couple of weeks was a confusing time. I was pain-free while I did yoga and weight trained. But the pain resumed as soon as I stopped. Once I realized that the pain often escalated the morning following these workouts, I decided it was time to stop everything that might be interfering with the healing and just focus on my therapy.
Fast forward to today, and thanks to Glynn I am gradually recovering and have been free of pain and numbness for a week. I’m feeling strong enough to get back to this blog and realize that I have some lessons to share about what I’ve learned during this time.
Being a yoga instructor, I felt like I should have been immune to a neck/back injury – isn’t yoga supposed to help create a healthy back? Had I fallen into a trap of believing that yoga is the ‘be-all-end-all” for backs? Yeah I think I had – and that was my mistake. While yoga does offer tremendous benefits to the spine and can offer therapeutic support in recovering from an injury, it was simply foolish to think that it can make someone totally immune to injury. In fact there were a number of things that contributed to my back injury:
- I had injured my shoulder four years ago and had only recently recovered full mobility through regular yoga practice so the area was already vulnerable.
- I had spent an increasing number of hours each week in the car and had just spent about 12 hours in one day as I traveled back from my vacation – most of this time with my body in some contorted position or with my hands clenched on the steering wheel.
- I had all but abandoned my personal yoga practice as I was spending more and more time teaching. (Demonstrating while teaching is not the same as practicing.)
- And what may be the most significant thing that affected me is something I’m planning to write in upcoming post… :)