[Hooping.org columnist Amanda Townsell wants your hooping life to be injury free.]
At some point when you are hooping you are probably going to sustain some sort of injury. It might be something simple like a small bruise or whacking yourself in the face, to something more complex like pulling a muscle, or perhaps even a back injury. Have you experienced any injuries as a result of your hooping? Well, my column this week is not meant to be a substitute for actual medical treatment or advice. If you’ve hurt yourself see a doctor. That being said I’m going to present you with the 101 level basics when it comes to dealing with the aches and pains you might experience as a hooper.
One injury I personally have experienced, and have heard a lot of other hoopers talk about as well, is bruising. When I first started learning off body tricks my hands sustained quite a bit of bruising. I got so excited about the bruises because it showed the world that I was a genuine hooper with authentic black and blue marks to prove it. So my naïve self kept hooping on top of those bruises to show how determined I was, which led to swollen painful hands and even worse bruises. That not only put my ego in check, it led to me not being able to do yoga for several days.
A bruise is caused by a broken blood vessel beneath the skin. When the blood vessel breaks it leaks blood out into the areas surrounding it and the body starts clotting the blood at the site of the injury. The result is the appearance of a bruise. Causing further trauma to the area can cause those blood clots to break free and enter the blood stream, where they could potentially cause several other medical issues, not to mention your body will need even more time to heal properly. So take it from someone who knows – don’t ever hoop on bruises, no matter how badly you might want to. Avoid any activity that could cause further trauma. Bruising can be treated with ice packs, acetaminophen, arnica lotion and rest. Depending on the severity of the bruising, it might be necessary to seek medical attention. Want more information on hula hoop bruising? Check out Hula Hoop Bruising: Hooping Black and Blue. Bruising is just one injury a hooper might spin into.
Another type of injury that hoopers may experience is tendinitis or an inflammation, swelling, or irritation of a tendon. Tendons are fibrous structures in the body that join muscle to bone. The most common places that this occurs in the body are wrists, shoulders, and elbows. If you are experiencing pain near a joint, pain at night, or the pain is worse with movement – then you may have some form of tendinitis. The overlying skin may or may not be red and warm to the touch. This is one that you see a doctor about for a proper diagnosis. Treatment for this includes ice packs or heat therapy, rest, braces or splints to cut down on movement, and aspirin or ibuprofen to treat pain and inflammation.
Hoopers Hip is an over-use injury resulting in pain in your hip. GroovinMeGzz experienced this condition first hand. “My hip pain hit me like a bag of bricks… throbbing, stinging, jabbing, grinding pain in my right hip joint,” she explained. More than a year later she met a physical therapist who listened and responded with, “Oh, you are an easy fix!” What did he do? She says, “He used several innovative techniques which relieved the pressure in my hip joint and taught me many basic exercises to strengthen my glutes and core. My pain was reducing, my hip was healing, and I was getting stronger!” While you may never hoop enough to develop an over-use injury from hooping, this is good information for everyone on how her Hoopers Hip problem was solved.
There are a vast array of other injuries that hoopers can incur. Fractures and muscles strains can spin our way, particularly when trying out new tricks or utilizing areas of the body that we are not used to hooping with – like shoulders, legs, and feet. I know several hoopers who have blackened their eyes simply by learning a new trick. Hoopers who only hoop in one direction may experience a tightening of muscles in their body, particularly in areas your body would use to hoop in the opposite direction. In any case, a few aches and pains every now and then seem to come with the territory. And sometimes we just overdue it and find ourselves incredibly sore.
So what do we do to prevent these things? Warming up, cooling down, and stretching are great ideas for any physical activity – including hooping. When I first started using mini hoops I found that doing a lot of stretching and warming up prevented me from having any soreness in my wrists. If you don’t have a warm up routine yet check out The Hooping Body Workout and Ten Great Warm Up Exercises For Hoopers. Prevention is always better than treatment. Using lotions that contain arnica – the all natural wonder plant that is a hooper’s best friend for it’s ability to ease sore muscles, joint pain, inflammation and bruising – or some other ingredients to assist with muscle soreness is nice. Warm baths with Epsom salts always help soothe muscle aches and pains. And rest is very important.
If you have injured yourself then go easy on your body and allow it to have time to heal. There are places you can drop in too like the Flow Arts Injury Prevention & Care group on Facebook to get some more insight and support. With time spent inside the hoop I find now that in many ways my yoga practice guides my hoop practice. In yoga I push myself to the edge of my comfort zone, but I do not move into poses that my body cannot support or that are painful. The same goes for my hooping practice now. We all have different bodies with different levels of muscle and flexibility as well. It’s very important to listen to your body and to stop when something is uncomfortable, no matter what your ego might tell you to do.
Hooping.org columnist Amanda Townsell brings her focus on the health benefits of hooping, both from an exercise perspective, as well as for mental health, to Hooping.org. A social worker helping families who are in crisis, hooping is a huge part of her personal self care. You can follow her blog at The Notorious Amanda T and she is also on on Facebook. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.