Injured by Yoga?

Suddenly I could not touch my toes.

It’s not like I’m the most flexible guy in the world. Possibly I’m more flexible than most my age, but I think much of that perceived flexibility comes from the fact that my belly is flatter than most old guys, so I don’t have as much fat in my way when I bend over.

No matter.

I went to bed one day last week with some discomfort in my glutes. (That would be my ass, for those of you unfamiliar with the body’s major muscle groups.) It was just discomfort, nothing to think about.

When I woke up the next day, the discomfort had progressed to what I will call “tightness”, which is just discomfort times two. The only time I really felt it was when I tried to bend over, so I thought I’d test it out, and, sure enough, I could barely get my hands to my knees before my body told me to stop.

What the hell?!?!?!? Have I finally really done myself in? With yoga?

Yeah, yoga. I’ve pretty much been doing yoga exclusively for the past few months, and, while I have injured myself in the past with yoga, I’d experienced no trauma that I’d felt during the previous day’s workout, which was Rodney Yee: Yoga for Athletes.

Yet here I was with a problem.

I consulted my fitness expert friend Donna, and she mentioned piriformis syndrome, which is a compressed nerve thing, and that sounded pretty logical to me, because this pain didn’t seem muscular. It was too evenly distributed throughout my glutes, reaching down into the hamstrings.

She recommended some stretching, so I did that, then tried Rodney Yee: Flexibility, which is my go-to yoga routine when I don’t feel like doing anything. I got through it, but with not near the range of motion I usually have for forward bends. Everything else was fine.

The next day, I felt a bit better, but I thought it was time to kick it up a notch and break out the Max Cardio routine from Shaun T’s Insanity. (I really only meant to do the Pure Cardio routine, which is 10 minutes shorter, but I accidentally put Max Cardio in my pre-workout Facebook status update, so I held myself to it.)

During the workout, I noticed that I could only really feel the pain during high knees and jumping jacks, both of which jar the glutes. Outside that, no big deal.

The next day called for rest, then yoga, another Insanity workout, yoga again. Here we are at today, and I feel totally healed.

So, let’s see, what have I learned from this situation?

First, the body is a strange thing. I don’t know what caused the pain, and I may never know. What I did know, though, at the time, was that the injury was not muscular — I could feel that was true — so I felt I could push through it. I am not sure if my aggressive treatment with Insanity sped up recovery, but it sure didn’t hurt.

Second, there’s always a good reason not to do something, but some things are worth doing anyway. This applies to everything in life. You can always find a perfectly valid reason — not something weak enough to be called an “excuse”, but a sound rationalization — for not performing, not working out. The key to fitness success is pushing through and getting it done.

Third, and last, WTF? Maybe this has happened to you, too. But, seriously, what the hell is going on in my body to have that kind of pain just crop up and totally cramp my style? Maybe my body was telling me that yoga is fine, but I need to do a little more punishing work with Shaun T at least a couple times a week. Noted and workout schedule has been adapted!

By the way, I am very happy to report that even though I’ve been doing yoga almost exclusively for the past 3 months, I felt very little soreness after Max Cardio, and, while I don’t have a good way to gauge it except for the way I feel during the workout, my cardio fitness seemed fine, too.

All hail the power of yoga. I’ll need to go through that last pre-pain-in-the-ass Rodney Yee workout, though, and see what might have broken me. Then I’ll own it.