Practicing With Injuries
Over the years I have had students who have had injuries or surgeries, and have wanted to continue their practice, but were not sure how and what they should do. Without knowing specifically where the problem area is, it is difficult to give a practice routine that will work in all cases, but there are some general tips that will help give a starting point.
Start by keeping all the concepts related to flow that the last few month’s columns have been covering in mind. If you have a problem that does not allow for a lot of range of motion, you can still do the forms, just reduce the amount of motion that you use, and allow the mind to move the energy through the same range of motion that you use when you practice. Remember that ultimately, you want to move the energy without the body motion, so this can be a chance to start working on that concept. When you can get the feeling you had using your normal range of motion, try and expand that out even further. Just bear in mind that you want to keep the range of motion small to avoid any pain or discomfort.
Many forms that you have learned can be practiced from a seated position. Try using a chair with no arms so that you can get full range of motion with your arms, then try practicing forms like Upward Downward, Inward Outward, Right and Left Side Holding Taichi Ball, or any other of your forms that you feel comfortable doing from a seated position. Even though you are sitting, you can still use the mind to follow the meridians in the legs as was discussed last month, and work on your flow. This allows you to work on the flow in the legs without them having to bear weight. This can really help to strengthen the feeling of flow in the legs.
Depending upon the type of injury you are working with, consult a qualified instructor to see what kinds of practice or forms could best help to aid recovery. There are practices and forms for working on energy flow in specific meridians, and doing the right ones for your specific case can greatly speed recovery. Remember that in the case of surgery for instance, the meridians have been cut also, and flow needs to be restored. The right type of practice can really help here. This will allow you to focus on your specific problems and direct all of your practice to taking care of them so that you can get back to your regular practice schedule more quickly.
If both standing and sitting are out of the question, you can still do reclining meditation. As was stated above, you can use the mind to flow the energy, even without performing the physical motion. As you are in the reclining position, imagine that you are doing any form and use the mind to move the energy as appropriate for that form. Try and get the same feeling that you do when doing the form normally. This can help you continue your work on keeping your flow going, as well as developing your ability to concentrate. This is very important work for advancing your Taichi practice.
Each case will be different, but these are some things that I hope will get you started. Every case is unique, and I strongly suggest talking with a qualified instructor before deciding specifically what you want to do. The main thing to keep in mind is that you can still keep your progress going and return more quickly to where you were by continuing your practice during recovery. Make sure you go slowly and don’t over work yourself at first, and you should find that your recovery progresses much more quickly than expected.