From time to time, I’m asked questions about how to handle injuries or physical challenges in yoga. Rarely is written communication the best way to address a bio-mechanical issue – i.e. an issue involving the physical capacity or lack there-of of one’s body part. Many factors could be at play, and nothing will replace a hands-on evaluation by a skilled medical practitioner or trained and trusted bodyworker.
Heck, Physical therapy graduate school is now 3 years year-round: more than law-school. I can’t sum up what that training has instilled in a few paragraphs. But I can start you thinking about how to seek help to move past blocks.
Here’s a question I received recently, to which I’m sure many can relate:
I have been working through a long term shoulder injury, and feel that the extreme tension in I experience in certain places is from restricted tendons, which hasn’t improved beyond a certain point. Do you have recommendations for increasing mobility in tendons?
Tendons are not designed to have much stretch to them. Tendons, which attach muscle to bone, have very little elastin. Elastin is an elastic-like fiber abundant in muscle, and muscle — the elastin-rich myocyte — is where you want to feel a stretch.
If you are feeling stuck, but not painful, it may be due to bony approximation, incomplete healing or scar tissue adhesions, or that you have a general fascial restriction. Fascia, which includes tendons, is defined as: A sheet or band of fibrous connective tissue enveloping, separating, or binding together muscles, organs, and other soft structures of the body.”
Shoulders are complicated: Many different muscles and their tendons cross the shoulder. What’s more, there are multiple joints involved in “shoulder” movement.
If this feeling bothers you, the best way to get to its root cause is via a skilled hands-on examination. If you don’t have a medical reason, like pain, to see a medical professional for this examination, find a highly trained local bodyworker (bonus if they are trained in myofascial release, like Rolfers or Tom Myers KTM practitioners).
I’m unclear if you notice the problem most in yoga, but if so, make sure the bodyworker or massage therapist has some understanding of yoga. If it is pose-specific, a private lesson with a highly trained yoga teacher might just do the trick.