I have long thought that the workers' compensation industry would be wise to seriously investigate the efficacy and potential benefits of alternative treatment protocols to better improve our medical outcomes. Our industry, being essentially a medical management entity, generally follows the tradition of western medicine in poo-pooing those alternative services, often considered of “eastern” origin. I think that is a mistake; a short sightedness on our part that is costing us in the long run.
Up until very recently I had never practiced Yoga, but have openly touted its potential benefits as part of a “mind over matter” approach for some of our injured workers. If you have ever heard me speak at a conference around the nation, there are good odds you've seen a video I like to promote for that very point. Published in my blog May 21, 2012, the video is a promotion for a former heavyweight wrestler turned Yoga instructor named Diamond Dallas Page. It shows the recovery path of one of his clients who had been told by doctors and others that he would never walk unassisted again.
It is a remarkable video that demonstrates both the power of the mind and the benefit of an alternative treatment that we as an industry do not currently consider. I recommend you invest 5 minutes and watch it here. You go on ahead. I’ll wait here for you.
OK, glad to have you back. Inspirational, isn't it?
So, as I mentioned earlier, I had never personally tried Yoga, despite the urging of my wife to do so. However, I was recently visiting family in Colorado, and came across a style of Yoga that was right up my alley. My brother in law, who has been doing early morning Yoga for much of this last year, introduced me to the concept of “Chair Yoga”. This played directly into my wheelhouse. After all, anything that is done sitting down is worth doing in my book.
You should understand that my brother in law is a “Man's man”. He is a soft spoken yet roughhewn cowboy turned contractor; a man who for many years drove cattle on the open ranges of Southeast Utah. He and my sister in many ways live a rugged lifestyle, hunting much of the meat they consume and raising the rest either on their land or buying it at county fair auctions (while it is still walking around). I've often joked with my sister that when the world ends I am heading to their house. We could all fulfill roles in order to help survive. They can hunt and feed everyone, and I will maintain the compound's website. You get the idea. He is not the type of person you might normally associate with a morning Yoga ritual. Yet, every morning, there he is.
Most interesting to me, and what really peaked my curiosity, was his comment that he used to have to visit a chiropractor every month, but has not done so since he started this regimen. Having to regularly visit a chiropractor for my own back, I was interested in that concept. I have also been experiencing some chronic leg and ankle pain, as well as extreme stiffness after sedentary periods. I thought I would give it a try one morning while I was there. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I had no idea I would be inventing an entirely new form of Yoga.
The recorded program we watched for this new ritual was called “Happy Yoga”, with the very Zen-ish sounding Sarah Starr. The program shows her sitting in a chair in calm and beautiful surroundings; a beach, a cliff, a field of golden sunflowers. Ms. Starr calmly, some would say comatosely, guides the viewer through a series of Yoga exercises. She deftly maneuvers, twists and bends in her chair with the elegance of a cat walking a narrow and cluttered ledge, while those of us following along lose feeling in our ass, snort heavily and pull muscles we did not know we had.
It became obvious to me very quickly that what I was watching on the screen and what my body was actually doing were entirely different things. While Sarah was continually reminding us to center our breath, I was centering my drool. While she sleekly bent into the shape of a pretzel, I assumed the look of a crushed bag of potato chips. And when she tightly crossed her legs and twisted to one side, I invented my first custom maneuver; one I affectionately call “The Nutcracker”.
And so, after returning home and having completed a few of these sessions, I realize I have embarked on a completely new Yoga platform. With every heaving turn, torn ligament and gasping breath I have inadvertently created a useful alternative for certain therapeutic applications in workers' comp. I call it “Bob's Fat & Wheezy Yoga”, and it consists of a series of moves that the average tubbo such as myself can manage.
All of these moves are based on the more traditional Yoga positions; they just have certain alterations and accommodations to allow the fat asthmatics among us to participate. I will not go into excruciating detail here, but some of the unique moves developed for Bob's Fat & Wheezy Yoga include Grasp & Groan, Stretch & Kvetch, Squeeze & Wheeze, and Twist & Mist. There are also the somewhat embarrassing positions Scoot & Poot, and Pigeon (Poop) Pose, as well as my personal favorite, Downward Facing Dumbass.
All in all, it is a groin pulling collection that will really make you feel the burn. Or that could just be hemorrhoids caused by spending too much time in the chair. Either way there is a burn involved, so we will count that as a win.
I must be honest, I have seen a great reduction in my leg pain and stiffness, and it happened quite quickly. I think I am on to something for our industry. It is an alternative treatment that is modified to meet the needs of many within our realm of responsibility. I envision an entirely new health section on WorkersCompensation.com, where I can lead the massive masses on my creative Yoga journey. This one is a winner. I can feel it.
Or that could just be the hemorrhoids. Whatever.