Like many yoga teachers, often I find students asking me questions after class about ways to relieve a pain that’s newly emerged. In general, I shy away from answering such questions—I’m not that kind of doctor, but if you need a literary text critically analyzed, let me know—and I encourage my teacher trainees to acknowledge the limits of their expertise as well. But as an endurance sports coach, I do have a response that can help students pinpoint the root of the problem:
Discomfort and pain don’t happen in a vacuum. They emerge in the context of a fully formed, complex system. When your knee hurts, or your shin, or your foot, ask yourself, What changed? Usually it’s something in your training habits or movement patterns—you started running more, or lifting more, or sitting more, or holding a toddler more. You changed your bike fit. You bought a new couch. Your shoes got older and less supportive. Your sleep patterns have been disrupted. By narrowing down the shift that precipitated the pain, you’ll be better able to take steps to address its cause.