Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

It started as a whisper. Just a tiny twinge in my ribs as I shifted in my chair. Within a couple of minutes, though, I realised what was happening: a hard session on the erg that morning was taking its toll.

Rest is not a dirty word

As the afternoon passed, the twinge turned into a pain and, to my dismay, several rowing friends told me that I was suffering from one of the most common rowing injuries – rib strain.

The only time I’d ever hurt my ribs before was during a particularly raucous ceilidh at our local village hall. A dance called the Basket and a neighbour with large hands (don’t ask) caused me to crack a rib and put me out of action for weeks. I never imagined such excitement could happen on the erg. Since then I’ve learned that rib stress fractures are actually quite common amongst rowers – and particularly female, lightweight ones.

Naturally my first reaction was just to ignore it and to carry on regardless; indeed I made it through a tough old weights session that evening.But when someone from the US rowing squad tells you need to stop, you don’t ignore their advice.

Twitter being an egalitarian kind of place where no one stands on ceremony, my complaint about my rib was picked up on by US national rower, Esther Lofgren. She referred me to a post on her blog for here for some excellent advice for anyone suffering from a rowing injury (or indeed any sports injury). Basically, you can turn a rib strain into a stress fracture if you don’t give it a rest.

The good news is that you don’t have to lie around scratching yourself while you wait to heal. There’s plenty of stuff you can still do, though it can take a bit of imagination to keep the pressure off your injury. At the same time, it’s essential to allow your body to heal. Rest, it seems, is not a dirty word.

For once, I’ve done the sensible thing and followed the advice of my elders and betters (well, betters, anyway – I definitely win on the elders score). I cancelled several rowing sessions. I rested. I drank water. I went to yoga, which stretched my poor, creaking body until it felt young again.

Since every year takes me deeper into the veteran category, this will not be the last of my rowing injuries, especially as I tend to attack my training like a rabid terrier. I wonder how long I can maintain this moderate, restrained approach? Only time will tell.

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Yesterday I did something I swore I would never do again. I went to a yoga class.

Over the years I’ve tried yoga occasionally, lured by the dual promise of serenity and flexibility, but each time have found it too dull for words. I think it’s the air of piety that usually puts me off. That, and the prospect of falling into whispered conversation with someone who, without any apparent irony, might embark on an anecdote from a past life. And frankly, if I don’t break a sweat these days, it feels like a bit of a waste of time.

So what on earth possessed me to try it again? The blame lies squarely at the feet of the Mistress of The Boot Camp, Vikki Scovell, who emailed all her boot campers with a challenge.

“All of you runners and Booty blokes and babes would benefit from some increased flexibility,” she said. “I have seen you with your tight hamstrings and shoulders at the end of class.”

Well, anyone who knows me will understand that I can’t resist a challenge. It helped a lot, too, that she called it Fitness Yoga. And when she solemnly swore that there would be “absolutely no emptying of nostrils, no serious faces, no being made to stand on your head, no chanting, humming, spleen-massage and very little breaking of wind”, I was in.

It turned out to be the missing bit of the fitness jigsaw. Within a few (pleasingly sweaty) minutes, as we Down Dogged (stop sniggering at the back) and Warrior Posed, I realised what she meant about my lack of flexibility. It felt really, really good to be stretching and flexing, and I could see that not all exercise has to involve grunt and heft.

There was also a fair amount of giggling, which is always a bonus for an incorrigible giggler like me. Though if it’s laughing yoga you’re really after, maybe this is the teacher for you:

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