How to practice Qigong when you are injured

 

Our extraordinary physical body is able to perform innumerably movements and enable us to do all kinds of activities (jobs, manual work, arts, sports…). But what also happens is, that sometimes we get injured.

Injuries can be caused by accidents, falls, hits, cuts, overwork… It happens that we can break our bones, sprain joint, strain or torn a muscles, tendons or fascia. Or we can simply experience pain because of micro-injuries as in the case of delayed muscle soreness or involuntary spasms…

 

Self-healing ability

We are lucky because human body is very resilient and it has ability to self-heal.  When the injuries are quite serious body needs some help (complicated fractures etc.). But the most important factor is time. Body needs time to heal. Different amounts of time. A small knife cut can be healed in only few days. But it may take weeks or months for a tendon injury to heal.

 

Injury brings change in our life

We usually take the body’s capability to move for granted. But we can injure only one toe and we instantly notice how our stability and motion is affected. We also realize how much it means to us to move freely and without pain. When injured we are not able to do a lot of things that we were used to. Therefore injury always brings change in our life.

 

Movement as resource

Movement in general, it doesn’t matter in which form (working, doing sport, walking…) presents to many people a great resource and a way to release their tensions.  And when they are not able to move as they were used to (for example playing basketball, climbing, jogging, practicing Qigong…) they might feel frustrated and what is common with all is that they experience all kinds of emotions. Even if they know that it will take “only” few months to heal it is not rare that they become depressed.

 

It is possible to adapt a Qigong practice to different physical conditions

Good news for Qigong practitioners (or future ones) is that you can practice Qigong also when you are injured. Of course it won’t be the same way as before injury. But you can adapt your practice to your new (temporary or permanent) condition. Find out what you are able to do and be open for new ideas and new ways of practice.

 

Qigong practice helps you to recover faster

Practicing Qigong helps to circulate Qi throughout the body and therefore speed your recovery. When you can move, even a little bit, breathe deeply and relax also your mood is better. All these have a great impact on faster recovery.

 

 

Accept the things that you can’t change

The first thing that you can do is to accept the situation. You can’t go back and change it. But in order to feel better you can change your mind-set. To start, become aware what feelings you are experiencing (sadness, helplessness, blaming yourself or others…). Embrace them but don’t hang on them too long. Rather than feeling sorry for yourself focus on a present moment and start thinking about possible solutions. And you will find them.

 

Don’t break your established daily routine

A lot of people stop with their Qigong practice when they are injured because they can’t practice in the same way as before. They break with their Qigong daily routine which they were gradually building for months or years. Probably they have worked hardly to integrate a Qigong practice in their busy schedule. Time of Qigong practice was a time reserved for themselves and it is nonsense to renounce it. Even if you can only lie in the bed continue to dedicate this time to your Qigong practice.

Don’t pay attention to only one part of your body

It is funny but when you get injured you predominantly focus to the injured part of the body. And if there is a pain, a tension, a rigidity… the rest of the body and also your mind start to feel in the same way. You experience pain, tension and bad mood.

Why not emphasize the fact that the rest of your body is functioning well and that is able to move. I prefer to move even if I can’t do it in a “perfect” way. Maybe I can’t move my leg but I can still move torso, head, arms and even joints of my healthy leg…

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Some possible ways to adapt your Qigong practice

Let’s see some ways how you can adapt your Qigong practice in the period when you are injured.

Find a suitable posture

First find a posture or position in which you feel the most comfortable and in which you don’t feel strain or pain.

Standing still instead of moving: Maybe you can’t do a moving Qigong or Taijiquan form, but you can stand still and you are able to practice some stationary Qigong set, Zhan Zhuang…

Sitting instead of standing: If you can’t stand, sit on a chair or bed or floor.  Try to adapt exercises that you already know to a sitting position. Or ask your Qigong teacher to help you. Probably you should skip some particular exercises but this is still better than not to practice at all. There are Qigong sets designed particularly for sitting practice (for ex. Sitting Eight Pieces of Brocade). You have an opportunity to learn something new.

Lying instead of sitting: And if you are not able to sit you can lie down. You will discover that there are not so few things that you can do in lying position. It depends from the injury that you have. But in general, if your legs are injured you can stretch your torso, spine, do exercises with arms… And you can do much more things that I will talk about later.

Choose appropriate exercises or Qigong set

When you have found a suitable position choose a Qigong set or few exercises that you can practice in this position. You can adapt some Qigong exercises that you normally do in standing posture to a sitting posture or even to a lying position. If Qigong sets that you are familiar with are not appropriate, learn other exercises that you can practice until you are fully recovered and you can return to your old practice.

But sometimes injury can be very serious and you know that also later you won’t be able to practice the type of Qigong or martial art that you used to. Start to look for replacement. There are different types of Qigong and a lot of different styles. I’m sure you will find something for you.

Move only parts of the body that you can.

If your arm is injured keep it still and move only the other one… It is challenging and you can have fun. If you can’t turn to both sides, turn only to the side that you can.

Reduce a range of motion.

In some cases it is enough that you reduce the range of motion to not experience pain. Basically if you were developing your inner sensibility and connection it is always possible to perform a movement, though so small that is not visible to eyes. But for these you need more experience.

Change contents of your Qigong training

Start to practice things that you have never had time to practice. I have always in my mind a lot of things I would like to try or practice more often but they are waiting because of other priorities. Maybe you were until now focused more on a practice of Qigong set or moving sequence and you didn’t have time for other things. Now you have the opportunity to practice something new.

If you are able to stand still but you can’t do a moving Qigong, spend more time practicing fundamental stances, Zhan Zhuang…

If you can be only in a sitting or in a lying position.practice more a Qigong breathing and releasing techniques, meditaton, do or learn Qigong self-massage (tapping, acupressure…).

Start or spend more time with mental training. This kind of training is very beneficial for the Qigong practitioners who are injured and their mobility is limited for certain period of time. With mental practice you can succeed to keep the Qi flow in the areas which for any reason can’t be moved. (Read blogs Mental Practice in Qigong 1 and 2 and learn more about).

You can use a part of your time to read and study Qigong theory, TCM etc.

Possibilities are endless… But keep in mind that they also depend on how skilled Qigong practitioner you are. In this blog I didn’t talk about more demanding techniques which helps you in healing and are used at more advanced levels of Qigong. I was focused only on possibilities that enable a practitioner to continue its Qigong practice also when is injured.

Exercises for injury recovery

When your injured part is healed enough that you can start with physical exercises for injury recovery you can dedicate a part of your training to these exercises. Ask your teacher or a Qigong healer to give you advices and show you the most appropriate exercises for your injury.

 

Injuries as an opportunity to get more in touch with your body

I have learned through years to take my injuries as the opportunity to learn more about my body and mind. A pain forces you to be more connected with your body. When you have pain you move very carefully. Your movements should be slow, subtle and smooth. 😉 As Qigong movements should be… And you can develop your internal feeling. For me, the most painful experience was psoas muscle strain… and guess what, in that period I have also learned a lot of things. I’m not saying that I have intention to repeat this experience but definitely I didn’t waste my time. 😉

You can always turn things in your advantage if you want so.

 

May the Qi be with you!

Smiljana

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