I had a session with a trainer this morning. He identified some weakness in my left leg, probably the result of many ankle sprains from my soccer playing days.
The most significant discovery of the session was foam rolling. I have never used a foam roller before to massage and put pressure on my muscles and tissues. He showed me how to roll my IT Band, where I have been having soreness and tightness. It was excruciatingly painful, but I felt immediate progress with the release of the tissue. Less tightness, less soreness, and better knee mobility. I am very excited about the potential of this technique!
I am determined to develop a series of exercises for men that is a complete and specialized workout. Postures for muscle development and strength. Postures for determination and will power. And postures for balance. Perhaps also exercises for stress relief and healing of injuries, and men generally have tight hips and hamstrings.
Am I overlooking anything significant that I should incorporate to make a complete workout for men? Men, what are you looking for in an exercise program? Have you tried yoga? What is missing in the classes? If you haven't tried it, is there a reason why you avoid it?
I am putting together a series for the quirks of Triathletes with a focus on freeing the lower back and also avoiding extreme knee flexion. The repetitive muscular actions of running and cycling create quad heavy strength, tightness in the hamstrings, hips and low back. Also cycling is a hunched activity so the front side of the body becomes tight, including the abdomen, chest and throat. Swimming gets good range of motion in the shoulders, but the repetitive twisting motion and the limited range of motion in the hips and legs creates more tightness in the hips and lower back. Also since all the triathlon activities are so full of forward motion, I want to create a little stillness and balance.
Here is the series as it stands right now:
1. Cat - Cow
2. High Lunge Backbend, Kneeling Forward Bend
3. Salute to Sun with Dolphin
4. Half Moon Series (with Triangle, Revolving Triangle and Forehead to Knee)
6. Standing Bow
7. Balancing Stick
8. Balancing Half Moon
9. Standing Separate Legs Stretching with Shoulder Stretch
13. Happy Baby
14. Pigeon on Back
18. Full Locust
20. Half Tortoise
22. Forehead to Knee
24. Separate Legs Stretching
26. Cow Face
27. Seated Spinal Twist
28. Straight Legs Twist
29. Lateral Twist (separate legs)
30. Eagle Legs Twist
"There’s this entrenched idea that it’s good to ‘sweat things out,’ but sweating, per se, provides no health benefits.”
"You aren’t gaining extra health benefits from drenching your clothing with perspiration; you’re only ensuring that you’ll need to sip from your water bottle more often to avoid losing too much fluid."
"The benefits derive from the exercise itself, and the more intense, generally, the greater the health benefits."
Read the whole article here.
I have been reading a lot about the hips, how they move and what types of movements tend to cause instability (including this article by Michaelle Edwards).
It is well known that the legs and hips from an arch, a stable way to transfer the weight of our torsos down through our legs into the ground. The sacrum acts as the keystone to the arch. It is the point where the force is the greatest and where it splits down the legs.
This has me wondering why we encourage people to do any yoga postures with their feet together. Does this compromise the strength and integrity of the arch? Isn't it important for the feet of an arch (and therefore the feet of a human) to be sufficiently wide to make the transfer of weight most effective? Or does standing with feet together only make balance more challenging with no effect on the sacrum?
I am going to keep these questions in my mind as I practice for the next few weeks.
In the past two weeks I have practiced in the heat twice. They were my least satisfying practices since I returned from training. Following the sequencing and cueing of a teacher instead of my own body is growing more and more difficult. And the heat makes my body feel loose in a bad way. Flexible without the requisite strength for stability.
I have been surprised at how open my body can be even without the extreme heat. It takes a little longer to warm up, maybe an hour or 90 minutes instead of 20-30 minutes in a hot room. But after a longer warm up my muscles are supple without being loose. I can stretch them but they still feel strong. Also there is so much strength, balance and awareness that builds through the warm up postures. This is where I get to know my body, my mood of the day, my response to adversity.
Today I practiced the half moon series a lot. I did three sets of lateral half moon against a wall to assure good alignment. Then I did two sets each of the backbend and forward bend. I can't figure out why Hands To Feet Pose is a spinal extension and not a rounding of the spine. After bending the spine to the right, left and back, wouldn't we want to bend it forward? But Hands To Feet straightens the spine. Today I experimented with a different Hands To Feet pose, one where I tuck my chin and put my forehead on my knees to round my spine. It felt more ease-ful and complimentary to the other bends.
Also I did three sets of Tree pose before doing Toe Stand and Short Man. I have been babying my left knee because of soreness. It is feeling better, so today I added Short Man to see how things went. It was too stressful on my knee, which is sore again now. I don't think I have any ligament damage because there isn't instability in the knee. My best guess is that it is IT Band Tendonitis, a problem commonly associated with weak hips which I think I have. I need to try to heal the tendonitis while maintaining my flexibility and strengthening my hips.
A new study suggests that thousands of people with a torn meniscus may be undergoing unnecessary arthroscopic surgery and that for many, options like physical therapy may be as good.
Read the whole article here.
Excerpt from When Flexibility Becomes a Liability by Michaelle Edwards
Last year, approximately 400,000 people had their hips replaced in the United States—and most of them were women.
Why do women’s hips wear out more than men?
Excessive flexibility and weak stabilizing muscles are often the key factors leading to hip joint deterioration.
Women have looser ligaments to allow the pelvis to open for the act of childbirth. Beyond birthing, flexibility can be a liability because the lumbar and hip joints must have strong and tight ligaments to keep the parts stable for proper joint function, and shock absorption during movement.
All women should consider practicing strengthening exercises to stabilize the hip, and be cautious when doing hip ‘opener’ poses practiced in yoga and stretching classes that may be giving you more flexibility than you need, compromising the longevity of your joints.
Longer is not better for your ligaments.
Read the whole article here.
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga