blog: yoga through your life

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  • Activity Monitors? Good? Bad? or Indifferent?

    I have a hard time wrapping my head around whether or not I should get one of those new gadgets that monitors literally every step and move I make... Part of me says ,"YES! this is great, I'll be more accountable and know exactly what I'm burning", the other part says "I'm a yogi, I am not active because I want to increase numbers or watch my activity chart rise, I do it for the way I feel" I think like most, I'm a bit conflicted, but there are many awesome benefits to these new gadgets that can really help a lot of people.  

    The clear benefits as I see it are:

    1. Getting those to move that are inherently sedentary.  YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE... you work at a desk all day, take cabs and elevators...  These monitors can alert you when you've been inactive for a period of time with a little buzz and get you out of your seat! 

    2. Sleep issues? These can be great to monitor sleep quality and time, therefore helping you decide if you need additional sleep or additional aides to help. 

    3.  Weight loss goal? Losing weight is simple math, expend more calories than you take in and create a deficit.  These gadgets can help you monitor your activity, your steps, and you can interpret calories burned from that.  You can also use these for as a food diary to document what you are eating every day and analyze caloric input.  

    NY times wellness did an awesome piece outlining the different types and their features... check it out, and decide for yourself! 

  • What is the deal with Achilles Tendonitis?

    Thanks to my former patient, Maria More Grant, for your continued running of 50 mile plus weeks, for your inspiring achilles inquiry.  Hope this answers your questions! PS. I'll blog some exercises with pictures to help as well. 

    What’s the deal with Achilles tendonitis

     

    Throughout my history treating athletes including yogis, runners, cyclists, and general weekend warriors, I’ve seen Achilles tendonitis quite a bit, especially in runners.

     

    SYMPTOMS:

     

    Generally speaking, the symptoms are heel or Achilles tendon soreness (especially in the am), pain with walking, specifically either when the heel strikes down or the toes push off.  Swelling and hardening may occur with more persistent cases.  It’s also typically worse after activity.

     

    WHY does it happen?

     

    The traditional answer is an increase in activity or intensity of activity and tight calves. 

    My answer, core/hip weakness and/or foot position.

     

    The Achilles tendon is the largest in the body, connecting the gastrocnemius/soleus muscle complex (the calf muscle) to the foot. At the foot, these muscles are primarily responsible for plantarflexion or push off, which is what you are doing if you stand on your toes and lift your heels.  Most people, who suffer from Achilles tendonitis, don’t stand on their toes and lift their heels all day, so why do they have pain?

     

    Plantarflexion occurs during running, which is essentially jumping from one foot to the next and lifting your heel repeatedly.

     

    CORE AND HIP ROLE

     

    Now imagine, that you just started running, and your core and hips aren’t strong.  Every time you land on your foot to push off, that hip hikes up or drops down, because your leg is connected to your hip, it will change the way your foot hits the ground for push off, causing increased stretch along the Achilles tendon, which after 6,000 steps (or 3 miles) can cause inflammation and pain.

     

    Why does this happen? Because your core muscles, namely your abdominals and hip girdle isn’t holding your pelvis and hips level. This leads to more motion, which can lead to tight muscles, and poor leg and foot alignment.

     

    FOOT POSITION

     

    Another reason is foot position…Ground the big toe.  This is super important. 

    When we walk or run, push-off occurs. It happens with optimal foot, leg, and hip alignment when we hit the ground correctly.  Many people who suffer from Achilles tendonitis do not strike the ground correctly.  The correct way is to push off from the ball of the big toe and 2nd toe.  The incorrect way is to strike on the outside of the foot.  Sometimes, we turn our feet out and we may have to slightly turn them in to strike on the big toe and 2nd toe mound.  

     

    FATIGUE OR HILLS

     

    Fatigue can cause over striding, which can tire out the Achilles. Try to keep your strides short and use your butt muscles to help push-off.  When we run on inclines, if we over stride our Achilles can get very strained.

     

     

    SO WHAT’S THE FIX?

     

    -Stop running, the tendon is injured, and it’s trying to heal.  Imagine skinning your knee and a scab forms.  You keep opening the scab, and the knee never heels.  That’s the deal with tendonitis; you need to not re-open the scab. Try to avoid anything that hurts, that will stop the reinflammation or reinjury.

     

    -Wait, use ice, anti-inflammatories, and gentle stretching. Bike/swim or ellipticize to keep up your aerobic endurance.

     

    -Do core and hip strengthening that doesn’t hurt the Achilles. More on this coming!

     

    -Treat your feet.  Grab a lacrosse or similar type of firm ball, and roll your foot over it while standing.  Finding tight or sore spots and working them out with gentle pressure and back and forth motion.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Shoulder woes?

    Hi There, 

    I am so thankful to have had a successful shoulder workshop at mala yoga in cobble hill brooklyn in February, that I'd like to share some nuggets of information that was taught. 

     Subtlety is key: Often we are told by physical therapists or yoga instructors to stick our chest out or pull our shoulder blades back, while good general advice, its often done TOO HARD by us, therefore hurting, rather than helping us.

     My advice: try to imagine holding raw eggs in your armpits, this will teach you how to UNGRIP your chest muscles which compress the shoulder joint.  So, while pulling your shoulder blades back, do so with open armpits.  Do this at your desk, on the subway, holding your baby, everything and everyday! 

    Try this exercise: hook your thumbs in your armpits with the chest muscles hanging over your thumbs. fingers reaching upwards.  Draw your shoulder blades back WITHOUT tightening the muscles in your chest and squishing your thumbs.  

    These cues followed correctly will help you use just the right muscles in your back without hurting the shoulder.  Less is more! 

    Let me know if you have any questions!

    Diana 

  • How to Vanish the Mummy Tummy

    I was asked by a few of my clients how to vanish their mummy tummies, so as promised, I made a video of my favorite exercise, the plank. 

    Planks are great because they target the pelvic floor and transverse abdominus (TA) muscle groups.  These are the muscles that get stretched and weakened with pregnancy. The TA is responsible for drawing your belly back in to a "flatter" look. It wraps around your entire mid-section like a corset.  The TA along with the pelvic floor muscles support your spine and pelvis, making them more stable. 

    You can do planks everyday! Try to practice them with focus, not distracted. You'll get a better bang for your buck. 

    Please forgive the quality, it''s the best that could be done while i'm home with my napping 7-week old.

    Planks are taught by all fitness trainers, yoga teachers and PT's, however, I feel that some of the key alighment and muscle cues aren't always focused on.

    In my version of the plank, please try to follow the guidelines below

    • Start on your belly, with your toes tucked under and your elbows under your shoulders
    • Engage your pelvic floor (do a kegel) and then tighten your belly.  Do this by drawing the sides of your waist together like you are wearing a corset, and imagining pulling your belly button up towards your nose. 
    • LIft your pelvis and core off the floor by using those deep abdominals
    • Make sure you don't round your upper back. 
    • Once you lift to the height of your shoulders, hold this position, constantly re-engaging your kegel and deep belly muscles
    • If you want to make it more challenging, you can straighten one leg, make sure your pelvis and hips stay level as you do so.  For even more difficulty, straighten both legs, then hold. 
    • When you are done holding, don't just flop down, use control of your deep belly muscles and pelvic floor to slowly lower your pelvis and hips to the ground.