So many people have severe leg pain which interrupts their lives. Nobody wants to move when they are in pain. I think that’s part of the problem. A catch 22. Once a person has severe pain; they become more sedentary. It’s because of the pain, that they don’t want to move too much. It’s completely understandable. Seniors who have fallen and broken a hip or leg, are then told by physician not to move too much. After they heal, many people are still in the mind-set of not moving. Sciatica, knee and hip pain, burning sensations, numb legs, and cramping are other severe leg pains. The challenge is, that the leg pains sort of get all mixed up.
Modified yoga is actually a really good remedy for leg pain. Many of my clients have hip replacements, knee replacement, sciatica, and at least one has a broken pelvis that has been mending for a year now, severe leg cramps, and blood clots. Modified yoga assist the client at his or her pace of healing. People can stop when the pain is intense, or change the pose if its too much for them. No one has exactly the same time to heal. Some heal in a relatively short time; 4 weeks or so, and others with a more severe injury could take a whole year or more.
People are actually surprised when their bodies take quite a long time to heal. Somehow, it’s prized when people heal quickly, like they are some super human. I just say, “It will take the time that it does.” Another problem is that doctors don’t fully understand the stretching and benefits of modified yoga, so they tell a patient don’t move! If people continue to stretch, their hips, thighs and calves, and do everything slowly, they’ll get the blood circulating, which aids healing. They would start to improve over time. As soon as someone feels a twinge of pain, they retreat, instead of giving themselves moments to let it pass, and just take a small rest. They go immerse themselves in being sedentary again.
Also when a client comes to my class, I want to understand what kind of life they are living at home. I want to know what they are eating, and what they are not eating. Besides giving them a modified yoga lesson, I may suggest that they eat cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts. Due to their beneficial properties. If they are experiencing leg cramps, I might suggest that they drink a glass of Tomato juice daily, which is filled with potassium to help their leg cramps.
I ask how they sleep. Do they stack their legs one on top of the other, do they jam one of their heels against the calf muscle? A simple change of sleeping habit and their leg pain clears up. I also find out what kind of shoes they wear, and to describe the leg pain. If they describe foot, heel, and lower leg pain, I would suggest that they buy new shoes, due to lack of shoe support.
If they are dealing with sciatica, we do stretches that are quite specific to stretch the back, hip and thigh. If they are dealing with a knee injury, we do leg strengthening and stretches to assist the knee in recovery. I notice right away if a person locks their knee when they walk, and I would immediately instruct them to be more aware of the knee lock. If they can change the leg position to a slightly bent knee, the knee pain would subside.
Throughout the modified yoga class, the knee has to be bent, to protect the knee, and release the stress on the back. The tailbone and pelvic bone, needs to be rolled towards the navel, which relieves back pressure, and just that little adjustment, may be enough to release sciatica strain. Modified yoga does work on most pain, but people just have to have a little patience.
A yoga class is not a pain pill that just covers the symptoms. We really discover what is going on with a person’s lower back, legs, hips, and feet. All of this doesn’t happen immediately, because the client is learning about his or her own body. Each change of positioning, and subtly of the stretches, starts to make them feel a whole lot better. Then each client has to continue at his or her home. To keep the legs slightly bent, to do strengthen exercises, to protect the knees. To be careful about where they place their feet so that they don’t fall and re-injure the legs, knees ankles or feet.
It’s more like a lifestyle. Modified yoga is not just a class, it’s the body mechanics that go along with it. How can a person move their body in a gently way that frees their body, and permanently release body strain.