Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Each month, I receive a publication through the American Council on Exercise (my personal training certification is through ACE) called IDEA Fitness Journal. In April's issue, Dr. Stephen Fealy, a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, noted that he sees fewer breakdown shoulder injuries in people who practice yoga. This is, of course, just an observation, and more research will be needed to specifically show yoga's role in injury prevention. But it's still food for thought for those who pitch, swim, play racquet sports, or do anything athletic that involves repetitive shoulder rotation.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Back in 2004, a study out of Springfield College in Massachusetts found that ongoing yoga practice and a single bout of yoga appeared to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in women who had performed eccentric exercise.
Eccentric exercise is the type of muscular contraction in which a muscle is lengthening. When lifting weights, we typically think of this as the lowering phase: lowering a barbell to the chest in a bench press or lowering the body to the bottom of a squat.
Many athletes will relate to the DOMS following a challenging workout in which going down stairs or lowering to sit in a chair is exceedingly painful! This study's findings support the idea that an ongoing yoga practice combined with a single bout following eccentric training will reduce this type of muscle soreness.
This is great news for athletes who train 5-6/week and want to train intensely, but still feel fresh for the next day's workout.
For a more detailed write-up of this article click here:
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Make yoga convenient and affordable this spring. Sign up for 3 private yoga sessions in your home for $120! Invite a friend or 2 to split the cost and pay the same price. This offer is available until April 30.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up!
Monday, March 14, 2011
Tight Hamstrings + Tight Chest = Low Back Pain
This post might speak to runners, rowers, and cyclists in particular who have tight hamstrings, and because of their sport, may also have tightness in the chest and shoulders.
Think of it like this. When your hamstrings are tight they scrunch the back of your leg and pull down on your low back. When your chest is tight, it rounds the spine causing a pull up on your low back. So your lower back lands in the middle of a very uncomfortable tug-of-war. It's being pulled taught, beyond what feels ok, yet it is actually being OVERstretched. Furthermore, because of the constant tugging from above and below, it is difficult to fully contract the lower back muscles (in other words, to extend the lumbar spine or reduce the overstretching), leaving them tight AND weak.
I teach Weight Training at Temple and a student whose back felt tight and achy asked me about stretches he could do to alleviate the discomfort. Rather than stretch your lower back, what you actually need to do in this instance is: open your chest, open your hamstrings, and strengthen your lower back.
Open Your Chest:
Stand facing a wall. Reach your right arm out to the side slightly higher than your shoulder. Fully straighten at the elbow. Open up your palm and press into it; don't allow your forearm to come onto the wall. Start to turn your feet to the left until you feel a stretch in the shoulder, chest, and even the biceps. Keep turning your torso until you reach an edge. Breathe there. Repeat for the left arm.
Open Your Hamstrings:
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Lie on your back. Loop a strap, belt, or towel around the arch of your left foot and extend that leg at the knee. Allow as much strap as you need to keep both shoulder blades grounded and the knee straight but not locked out. Once you have found a sensation of slight discomfort, breathe into the back of your leg. Repeat on the other side.
Strengthen Your Back:
Set up as shown lying on your belly, propped on the forearms. Line up your elbows underneath the shoulders. Starting from the feet: press down into the tops of the feet and reach back through the big toes; flex your quads gently and feel your kneecaps lift off the floor; press your pubic bone forward and down into the mat - you should feel your low back open from this action; draw in with your forearms and hands, hugging tightly onto the mat and lift your upper chest. Focus on feeling the entire back - lower, mid and upper - contracting strongly.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
See if one of these scenarios resonates for you:
1) You drive to boathouse row, run the loop, grab some water and maybe a calf stretch on the wall, then hop back in your car.
2) You dash out of your house for a quick 30 minute run (or ride), come home and head right into the shower. You would stretch but you're late already.
3) You go to the gym, lift weights, maybe some cardio, sit down to stretch and realize you're doing the same 4 stretches that you've been doing since you were on the high school basketball team.
Maybe this is you, maybe you are doing a slightly better job at balancing the intensity of endurance training, or maybe you are already taking weekly yoga classes. I am offering a workshop on April 2nd, Yoga for Athletes, to teach athletes how to use yoga for a post-workout "cool-down." This is more than stretching! Implementing a yoga routine that is 15-30 minutes long following your workout will enable you to develop core and upper body strength, recover faster, ease aches and pains, improve posture, neutralize muscular imbalances, help prevent injury, and of course, increase flexibility.
Here is a look at the agenda:
- 30 minutes of interval training. Yes, we are actually going to workout first! Runners can run. Cyclists can ride. We'll be creative with others! All levels welcome.
- The Athlete's Sun Salutation. When we first hit the mat, we'll work on a sun salutation tweaked for athletes to build core and upper body strength, and to open the hips, hamstrings, chest and spine. My intention is to repeat this enough times that you will have some facility with it when you are alone. I will also bring a cheat sheet that you can put at the top of your mat!
- Deep openers, or stretches, for the IT bands, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, calves, chest, etc. In the workshop, we will have time to learn and practice them all. When you do these by yourself after a workout, you might pick the one or two where you feel tightest on that particular day.
- Inversions. Getting upside down in a great way for athletes to speed recovery by improving circulation and activating the body's relaxation response. We will learn simple ways to invert. I'm not teaching headstands or handstands. More along the lines of legs up the wall, shoulderstand, and supported shoulderstand.
- Deep relaxation. We will work together on progressive muscular relaxation and breathing to calm the nervous system and restore the body.
Yoga for Athletes at Yoga on the Ridge
Saturday, April 2nd
To register for this workshop, visit the website of Yoga on the Ridge. The studio is in Roxborough, about 5 minutes from the Falls Bridge at the end of Kelly Drive.