From those of us who can bench press 200 pounds to those of us who can barely bench the bar, from those of us who are contortionists to those of us who can only touch our toes when our knees are at a 90 degree angle, we all know that strength, flexibility, and balance are important factors in preventing injuries from sports, accidents, and everyday life. But, what about when an injury does occur – catching you off guard and sneaking into your body before you can swat it away – what happens then? Can the balance between strength and flexibility you’ve worked at maintaining help you to heal faster?
Renew your gym and yoga memberships, the answer is yes.
When it comes to muscle strength, the benefits are almost limitless. Not only does greater muscle mass facilitate metabolism and booster immunity, which helps heal injuries, but it also improves oxidative capacity of muscles, rushing the life force of oxygen to the area in need of attention. Additionally, muscular strength supports cardiorespiratory fitness, helping your heart to deliver minerals and nutrients to the point of injury.
From an emotional standpoint, having a body filled with strong muscles can help relieve stress, and produce confidence in your body and its ability to heal itself, both of which
are factors in rebounding from an injury at an accelerated rate.
Strength is often viewed as muscle mass and bulk, but true strength is the ability of a muscle to contract when it needs to work and to relax when it doesn’t. If your muscles are always working you will soon become fatigued and have no inner strength to deal with the most basic stressors of everyday life.
Inner strength doesn’t have all to do with muscle strength; it also has to do with your ability to find your center in gravity: to feel the balance of your skeleton in the matrix of surrounding connective tissue, muscles, and organs. Orienting yourself around your center allows you to move out into the world from this place with ease and grace. From here any exercise you choose to do to build muscular strength will support integration, balance and harmony rather than more tension through the fabric of your being.
Flexibility, not to be overshadowed by muscular strength, also markets itself as a tool for healing. Our body has natural methods of healing stored within, and flexibility plays a vital part in making these methods work to their fullest capacity; flexibility is like adding grease to the wheels. It greatly improves circulation, which rushes nourishing blood to the areas crying out for help. Circulation also rushes antibodies and endorphins
to the area of concern.
In addition, flexibility can help develop self-awareness, which helps you to become aware of, and adequately cater to, any injury you may sustain. It also improves both physical and mental relaxation; a person who is relaxed and at ease will heal much quicker than one who is rigid and tense. And, like muscular strength and inner strength, it lessons the accumulation of stressors on the body, which can greatly hinder the healing process.
While they might not prevent all injuries, cultivating strength, flexibility, and balance will help limit the power of your injuries, keeping them from getting worse,
as well as aid you in a speedier recovery process.
TWISTED is a medical yoga studio at the Center for Osteopathic Medicine in Boulder, Colorado. Twisted integrates osteopathic medicine, hatha yoga and mindfulness practices to teach optimal balance between physical, mental, and emotional health. It aims to educate and help people to live a healthy life from the inside out. Rehabilitation programs offer a comprehensive treatment regime for the whole being, empowering each person one breath at a time to stimulate the body’s natural healing potential.
Jennifer Jordan is senior editor of for http://www.yogatwisted.com. Specializing in articles that not only teach yoga techniques, but also teach techniques on fulfillment and enrichment, she aims to educate students proudly enrolled in the school of life.