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Muscles and Hot Yoga

April 20, 2016

While hot yoga has been known to help with muscles and joints, it's not immune to injury. Learn how you can help support your muscles after hot yoga!

While hot yoga has been known to help with muscles and joints, it’s not immune to injury. I’ve been practicing for many years (although crow pose still feels so far beyond my reach), and yet I still appreciate when teachers help adjust my poses to decrease my risk for injury. I’m very flexible which is fantastic when I’m participating in limbo, but in yoga I find that although I’m able to reach the end pose of a position, my muscles may not be able to support it. Likewise, if you’re body is very tight, you may be forcing it into a pose causing a strain in your muscles and ligaments.

Muscle pain is characterized as dull, achy and cramping pain. While joint/ligament pain is simply dull and achy. Red flags occur with severe pain that won’t let up, occurs at night, isn’t affected by medications, involves spasms or has no injury mechanism. If you’re experiencing any of those symptoms, you want to seek medical attention immediately.

For those of us who may experience an acute injury, goals of treatment would be to reduce pain and swelling, and stabilize and protect the injured muscle or joint.  Here are some natural therapies to consider that may help to manage your pain:

Hydrotherapy

Epsom salt baths: While there hasn’t been much research validating the link between an epsom salt bath and relieving muscle pain, some people swear by them. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a variety of symptoms including muscle cramping. The theory is that the magnesium in the salt will penetrate into the skin and enter into the muscle helping it to relax. Although there may not be much evidence for the bath, relaxing in a hot bath may help to relieve muscle soreness and stiff muscles.

Botanical Medicine

Castor oil (Ricinus communis): Oil from the castor bean plant was consumed orally in the past for its laxative effects. Now, it’s primarily used topically because one of the oil’s components – ricinoleic acid contains analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

Tumeric (Curcuma longa): This yellow, edible herb contains potent anti-inflammatory effects, and has been show to help reducing muscle soreness.

Arnica (Arnica montana): Often used in a cream, arnica is often used as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It’s topically used for bruises and sprains both in a botanical and homeopathic form.

Please note: there are many herbs and herbal products are on the market promising pain muscle pain relief and joint support! Be sure to speak with an Herbalist or Naturopathic Doctor to ensure that your product is right for you!

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a great tool that can be used for musculoskeletal complaints, thin needles are often applied to acupuncture points and trigger points to provide pain relief and promote circulation around the areas stimulated by the needles. Electrical currents may also be applied to the points to further stimulate the area.

Muscle tension may often arise from feelings of stress throughout the body, which can be addressed from a constitutional perspective. The Traditional Chinese Medicine liver is associated with tension throughout the body as it’s qi (energy) cannot move smoothly throughout, and the TCM spleen helps control the muscles.  To help support the spleen minimizing greasy and processed, sugary food is ideal.

Diet

Eating after hot yoga is incredibly important! While carbohydrates replenish our fuel, protein will help with muscle repair. Protein can be made up of 20 amino acids, 9 of which our body needs from food. Those who eat animal protein can easily obtain all 9 amino acids because animal protein is a complete source, but vegans and vegetarians need to be more creative as not many plant protein sources are a complete source of protein.

Other foods aid in muscle repair and decrease inflammation and swelling are anti-inflammatories such as omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts), and foods rich in magnesium to decrease muscle spasms (legumes, nuts and seeds).

Do you experience any pain while in certain poses – talk to your yoga teacher! They’ll be able to help adjust your pose which may make less painful to do! If you’re wanting support for your aches and pains or simply have someone look over your supplements, book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor!

Part 1: Hydration and Hot Yoga

Part 2: Snacking and Hot Yoga

Part 4: Detoxification and Hot Yoga

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