Not that I ever wipe out, mind you — but there are those among us who do get injured while surfing. And of course, most of us deal with common aches and pains in our back, shoulders, neck, knees, hips and hamstrings.
Luckily, yoga definitely helps eliminate and prevent those everyday aches and pains, but once in a while, we overdo it and have to stay out of the water for a while.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you heal those injuries faster and get back in the water as soon as possible.
First, be sure you haven't broken a bone or torn a muscle which might need surgery to repair. Otherwise, a strain or pull is when the muscle tendon or ligament has been stretched beyond its normal capacity. Yoga can actually aggravate it.
How can you tell? Well, if a muscle feels tight and sore from overuse, then movement and stretching makes it feel better.
On the other hand, if you feel swelling, tenderness and it hurts like hell when you move it, then you've most likely got a strain or pull.
In this case, rest is what helps best. Some gentle stretching is fine, just to bring some circulation and healing nutrients to the injured area but avoid doing anything that causes pain.
A strain is not like a "sore" muscle that is fatigued or tight, so it's not like you can "stretch it out" to make it feel better.
So what can you do to feel better?
* Make sure to warm up before doing any activity. Do some walking and deep breathing just to get the blood moving.
* Try ice or heat therapy. Different injuries (and different people!) respond better to one or the other. Warm moist compresses can bring blood to the area but can increase inflammation. Cold packs can reduce swelling and pain. Never put ice or heat directly on the skin! Use a thin towel or sheet for protection.
* Visualize the area as getting healthy and strong. Let go of any frustration or anger directed at yourself, the injury, or your body. Those thoughts release negative chemicals that delay healing. Say and think the words "I'm healing" and you will!! I know it sounds corny, but it can't hurt!
* Work with a physical therapist to see if they suggest any recommended treatment such as ultrasound (can be very effective) therapeutic massage or specific exercises.
Once you're on the mend, ease your way back in to doing more activity. Yoga for Surfers will help you stretch and strengthen all those areas that need special attention.
Coming up next: Foods for Flexibility.
In the meantime, these cat stretches will keep your back strong and flexible and work out the kinks before and after surfing.
See how Brian Conley and Tom Carroll do it.
For more from Stuart Cornuelle, check in with his blog entries at http://www.surfingmagazine.com/blog/surfing/category/stuart/