(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Anyone else a runner during the running boom of the late 70s? Do you remember that some time later some studies came out that said running was actually harmful? What about the stir raised when running guru James Fixx died from running? I didn’t pay much attention to the hype, but it seemed the media often chose to pick up on the “running is bad” concept without analyzing studies or considering other factors.

I just thought a lot of people were looking for a reason not to do an activity they didn’t like in the first place. You know, the kind of people who are always doing the latest thing whether or not they enjoy it and whether or not it’s good for their bodies. I think the media buzz is happening again with yoga (and like it did with aerobics and Pilates and . . .)

Yes, I learned the truth—at seventeen—that running could hurt me. I ended up getting fitted for orthotics which helped me recover my health long term. The podiatrist said that running didn’t cause my imbalance problems—it just accelerated how soon they showed up and began affecting my life. Never again did I have the same obsession with running nor was I as naïve about the helpfulness of running, but I didn’t stop for good—I liked running.

You see, I didn’t run because it was “in” or the cool thing to do. For the most part it was a lonely experience, except for when I could meet up with my friends to do it or be part of a track or cross country team. Yet running often soothed my soul. I truly believe this was how I managed my undiagnosed ADD for so many years.

Enter real life obligations, children, and another undiagnosed condition that worsened—asthma—and running became less frequent in my life. It got to the point where I knew my weight gain was a risk factor for running, yet I didn’t know how to keep down my weight without running. This time I ended up with an injury common to inflexible, heavier, long term runners of a certain age: plantar fasciitis.

After that injury healed enough that I could use my feet, I switched to walking. Didn’t “everyone” say that was healthier anyway? I walked and walked—and continued to gain weight. With my feet problems, I couldn’t do any hard core land-based aerobic activities. So . . . I signed up for my first yoga classes.

By that point my lower back was hurting so much that I couldn’t get out of my chair easily. While I did find that yoga was helping in so many ways, maybe it wasn’t enough or maybe it just wasn’t fast enough. When I told my doctor, she thought I ought to add Pilates classes first to see if I could avoid physical therapy.

Here’s the deal: with yoga, Pilates, and walking, I did start to feel better—everywhere, but especially with my back and feet—and that ADD mind. And then I started to lose weight which meant I could move more vigorously, enough so that I could return to running and begin doing ZUMBA dancing.

So are all those things to blame for my recent back injury? Well, maybe. However, I will point out that my injury surfaced after I took off a week from exercise while spending most of that time sitting in a car.

Now that yoga is the new evil activity, it must have been the real cause behind my injury, right?

Really, I think that living and aging are behind my recent physical woes. As far as I can tell, people can get injured by moving—or not moving—or both as they age. When my father needed back surgery, it was because he carried excess weight and did not move unless necessary.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather earn my badges of aging from activity versus inactivity.

So I’m not going to stop practicing yoga even if I am more likely to modify my poses now. I have always gone to restorative yoga classes led by mature instructors who aren’t fostering a competitive environment. And I will argue with a teacher if I think a pose goes against the advice I am receiving from the medical practitioners treating my condition—if I’m not going to believe them and follow their advice, then I need to stop seeing them.

I guess I have to say that if people don’t like to do yoga, then they should not be doing yoga to please others. They can take their chances lifting weights, swimming laps, or sitting in their Easy Chairs while I’m holding a Downward Dog—or attempting to get back to running again.

Maybe we’re all just running against the wind trying to maintain our bodies in the face of time, but I’d rather move than sit down to wait for the Grim Reaper to find me.