Injuries & (im)Patience, Part 1

01Oct09

I’ve been so excited about re-upping my commitment to a daily Yoga practice… In fact, in the midst of a chaotic tour I began The Daily Mat blog and started tweeting pics every day on Twitter.  (Join in!!)

So there’s a lovely bit of irony in the back injury that came to visit in September, right in the middle of our tour.  We’d driven 13 hours to Minneapolis, played on the morning news there at 8am, then played a show in town that night.  Then we woke at 5am the next day to drive to Wisconsin for a 9am radio show.  While setting up my gear, I leaned over  to move my keyboard just a bit to the left and– OMG.

A powerful shift in the muscles of my lower back, crazy pain, and then instantly: frozen. I couldn’t move my back at all– Couldn’t twist, bend over, reach out, couldn’t lift anything heavier than a big book.

I turned to what I know for muscle pain: Yoga.  I locked myself in the venue bathroom and did a modified down dog against the sink.  I worked timidly through cat and cow, but the muscles were frozen, knotted, and getting worse.

Um... PAIN!

I played the radio show, blinking back tears and trying to hold myself stiff as a board; every small movement was painful.  And besides the physical pain, I was growing more panicked with every passing minute.

Why the panic? This kind of thing is for… “other people.”  I don’t “throw my back out” or sit down and stand up in painful jerks, as if my body is made of crumbling brick.  At least, I didn’t, before…

When we finished I make frantic calls to local chiropractors and massage therapists, finally landing appointments with one of each.

Both men were apologetic.  The chiropractor identified my injury as solely a muscle issue.  He adjusted me as he was able, but he didn’t go near those knotted and frozen muscles.   As for the therapist?  “There’s not much I can do,” he said.  “I can massage the rest of you, and hopefully that bit of relaxation will help the lower back heal more quickly.

“But you’re going to be down for the count for at least a couple days; those seized muscles have to ease up over time.”

So much for The Daily Mat?!

Their theory is that our long drives – with me stuck in ergonomically questionable seats – fatigued my lower back muscles in such a way that the smallest twist and lift was suddenly more than they could handle.  I’m buying their theory, because the van seat is the one place where, 3 weeks later, it’s still unbelievably painful to sit.

So we snagged a couple ice packs, packed blankets around me in the van, played our show that night and then drove the next day to Madison, where I rolled out my mat in the hotel room.

I wanted to move, to do any bit of Yoga that I could. I was scared that if I lay still the muscles would just knot up more and more–

So I climbed off the bed, and noticed that if I was very gentle, and if I moved very, very slowly, I could work my way into Child’s pose. In that slow-motion movement, breathing & crying, the stretch through my lower back felt right.  It was difficult, but it wasn’t painful.  It was simply more  (a lot more!) sensation than I’m accustomed to.

Child's Pose

The weak, injured muscles in my back were the very ones being gently pulled in Child’s, willing themselves to unfold.  And of course they couldn’t, not yet.

But I was breathing into them, imagining them loosening, imagining that I could breathe some peace and suppleness into them.

(continuing…)

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