Pulled muscles are downright painful, and can keep you off your feet for days or longer. Unfortunately, pulling a muscle is one of the risks that comes with hot yoga or any other physical activity. The good news is that as you continue your yoga journey, you will be less likely to pull your muscles in the future. That's because poor flexibility is a risk factor, and hot yoga limbers you up over time. Regardless of your current flexibility, practicing a few safety precautions can help you avoid pulled muscles in the hot yoga studio and elsewhere.
About Hot Yoga
Hot yoga is any yoga set in a heated room. Bikram is the most well-known style, but you'll only find it at dedicated Bikram studios. Hot yoga classes usually include a variety of poses and breathing exercises to help increase strength and flexibility, as well as mental clarity. It's important to drink extra water during hot yoga sessions since you'll be sweating up a storm. Stay away from the hot yoga studio if you have heart disease or problems with dehydration.
With its unnatural poses, hot yoga can twist you into shapes you never thought possible. As awesome as this is for flexibility and balance, yoga class is a danger zone for pulled muscles if you aren't careful. A pulled muscle, also called a strain, happens when you overstretch a muscle. The pulled muscle will hurt, and may swell up. The skin around the muscle may also appear bruised and discolored.
Spare yourself the pain of a pulled muscle by following some simple guidelines. Always warm up before you start stretching; if your hot yoga class doesn't include a warm-up, it's time to switch teachers. Perform your yoga or other stretching exercises regularly to increase flexibility, and use those muscles often to keep them strong. Always practice correct form to prevent imbalance, which may force you to overextend a muscle. Most importantly, pay attention to your body. If something just doesn't feel right, don't do it.
Uh oh, you've done it. Now that you have a pulled muscle, what should you do? If you can't move your muscle or if you see blood, head for the ER stat. Otherwise, wrap some ice in a cloth, and press it against your injury to curb swelling. Stay off the muscle for at least 24 hours, and try to keep it elevated to heart level. As the pain begins to subside, slowly start to use the muscle again. If weeks go by and you aren't healed, see your doctor.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.