Ankles are amazing things – they (literally) hold us up and propel us around. They absorb HUGE amounts of impact when we run and jump. And yet we rarely pay them any attention. Unless they are a problem, of course, then they can cause pain and suffering. Let me introduce you to the incredible world of ankles and how to get the most from them on your yoga mat. (more…)
I have said it before, and I say it again – shoulderstand is truly a thing of beauty. With the right combination of strength and flexibility, it can be elegance and grace personified. It is iconic and SO photogenic – a social media ‘go-to’ pose that all yogi’s want to be able to do from the moment they discover yoga. Nicknamed the ‘Queen of poses’ – shoulderstand is considered to be cooling; stimulates the calming (parasympathetic) side of the autonomic nervous system; and is reputed to assist in resolving a wide range of medical problems. It demands significant upper body and core strength plus beautifully open chest and shoulders – all wrapped up in a healthy dose of confidence in being upside down. So easy when you are a child – so much harder as an adult! (more…)
As a physiotherapist, I see a lot of people who have had some form of medical imaging – X-ray, MRI or Ultrasound. These images can be REALLY useful to help diagnose some conditions and plan whether something like surgery is needed. But did you know that 96% of people with no pain or problem with their shoulder showed an ‘abnormality’ on an MRI scan? Or that 37% of 20-year-olds with no back pain show degeneration of their spinal discs? So what does your scan result REALLY mean? And should you still do yoga? Read on for a few simple guidelines on whether to welcome or worry about your scan results. (more…)
In recent months I have explored the wonders of the wrist and the secrets of strong shoulders. Each has a huge influence on the way we practice yoga poses and both, rightly, deserved the individual attention. But, what of the bits of the arm between? Just a couple of bones, a few muscles and a hinge in the middle – let’s take a look and discover the sophistication of this undervalued anatomical part. (more…)
Our calf muscles are a great team. Two muscles, gastrocnemius, and soleus, both joined to the heel via the achilles tendon. Gastrocnemius is the powerhouse – propelling us forwards with every step we take. Soleus is a postural muscle – a less flashy chap that works a just a little but for a lot of the time. Soleus is what is working most when we stand still.
Strong calf muscles help us to stay upright and walk, but they also prevent the curse of ‘cankles’. When we are on our feet a lot, particularly in hot weather, our ankles can swell. That swelling is simply fluid called ‘lymph’ that has leaked from the blood vessels in our legs and flowed down to the lowest point. This leakage is a good thing and is supposed to happen. The lymph actually washes through the tissues before being reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. It only becomes a problem for us when it is slow to be reabsorbed and starts to build up. Strong calf muscles help to pump the lymph out of the tissues and back into the bloodstream – swollen ankles solved! (more…)