Archive for the ‘Tight hamstrings’ Category

Alexander Imich, 111years of age & Guinness World Records recently announced oldest living man, has some advice on living!

May 25, 2014

Guinness World Records announced that 111-year-old Dr. Alexander Imich, who lives in Manhattan, is now the world’s oldest living man. He’s also the oldest living war veteran and the first ‘oldest living man’ to hold a doctorate, according to the organization.

The New York Times has tracked down the largely stationary Alexander Imich, who at 111 and 1/4 years old currently holds the title of world’s oldest man who can prove it. (He moved up the oft-changing list on April 24.) Imich has over the years fled the Holocaust, survived a Soviet work camp, and worked as a zoologist and a chemist before switching his focus to studying paranormal activity. He also has a few tips for living a ridiculously long time, to add to our master list:

• No kids. Imich is childless, his closest living relative an 84-year-old nephew. Stress-free.

• No drinking or smoking. He quit smoking forever ago and never indulged in the sauce. (For nearly everyone, it’s probably already too late.)

• Exercise while your body still can. “I was a gymnast,” he told the Times. “Good runner, a good springer. Good javelin, and I was a good swimmer.”

• Don’t eat too much, except ice cream. Also good: “matzo balls, gefilte fish, chicken noodle soup, Ritz crackers, scrambled eggs, chocolate.” So, like a Jewish 10-year-old.

• Take things as they come, but not too seriously. Of his new title, Imich said, “Not like it’s the Nobel Prize.”

Cyclists, Time on the Mat Means Longer on the Road

May 13, 2014

indexWhy should road cyclists? They don’t require the flexibility of dancers, golfers or tennis players. There’s no leaping, twisting or lunging in cycling, just hours spent locked in a flexed position craning the head to gaze forwards.

I may have answered my own question but the simple answer is comfort. Most cyclists are all too familiar with nagging lower backache. It can cut short a ride or even force riders off their bikes and on to the physio’s couch.

The discomfort might be higher, around the trapezius or neck muscles as the upper body is braced for long periods over the handlebars. Or lower, as the glutes or quads contract and shorten after hours of hard pedaling.

Road cycling is a rush. There is no feeling in the world like having the wind in your face on a cold, crisp sunny day as the fields fly by. But a body held in the cycling stance needs regular rebalancing to maintain comfort and prevent injury.

The obvious benefit of yoga is to stretch out tight hamstrings, glutes or quads in order to both avoid injury and create a level of riding comfort. By restoring muscle length cyclists can ‘reset’ the body and feel fresh and ready to ride again.

But that’s not the whole story. Here’s four more reasons why 20 minutes of yoga, two or three times a week, will keep cyclists riding stronger, for longer:

1. Spinal Extension – Yoga’s gentle backbends ease the spine from the flexed cycling position into extension. Backbends also open the front of the body, stretching the chest, or pectoral muscles that shorten over time while riding. Think Sphinx pose, though, rather than Wheel and monitor the back carefully.

2. Lateral Movement – Cyclists operate in a forwards-only or sagittal plane of motion and strive for upper body stillness. This often leads to tightness in the stabilizing muscles of the outer hips as well as the IT band. Lateral, or sideways movements like Triangle provide a deeply satisfying stretch.

3. Lower Back Relief – Sinking into Extended Child’s Pose, post-ride will ease out the lower back (and shoulder) muscles. Add some strengthening postures like Locust in between rides to reinforce the lumbar region, an area vulnerable to injury in the cycling stance.

4. Core Strength – A strong core is vital for posture, power, injury prevention and comfort. Most road cyclists have weak…


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Repairing and Rebuilding Torn Muscles

February 18, 2014

torn muscle

A workout recovery is essential if you have over-exerted yourself during an exercise session. A good indicator of straining yourself too much during a workout is if you find that your muscles have become torn. Such tears require immediate repair and rebuilding. Muscles are best defined as contractile tissues that further stem from the mesodermal layer of your embryonic germ cells.

Your body’s muscles perform many important functions, chief among them being the production of both motion and force. This motion may either be the internal movement of your organs, or simply the actual locomotion of your body itself. Torn muscles are serious workout injuries, and if you find yourself with torn muscles, you ought to do everything possible to treat them as soon as possible.

Types of Torn Muscles

If you find yourself with a torn muscle, you will experience one of three types. The first type of torn muscle is the first-degree strain that only involves less than 5 percent of your muscle. This torn muscle will only result in mild pain and barely a loss of strength or range of motion in your muscle. The next type is the second-degree strain. It is a partial tear that is characterized by more than mild pain with each muscle contraction. However, you may not have the ability to walk or stand without limping or feeling pain. The worst type of muscle tear is the third-degree tear, which is an utter tear along the total width of the muscle, disallowing you to contract it at all. This type of tear may need immediate surgery since internal bleeding may result.

Treatment during First 72 Hours

After you realize you have torn your muscle, you have got to stop whatever you are doing. Apply an ice pack to the torn muscle area for 20 minutes, and this will slow down the flow of blood to your injured muscle area. Take care not to ever massage the torn muscle area or apply heat to it; doing either will result in more blood flow to the area, which disrupts the opportunity for your muscle to heal.

Wrapping the torn muscle area is also a good idea, as this will compress and support your damaged area. You should also take care to ensure that your torn muscle area is kept elevated above your heart. Seeing a doctor is recommended, too, so you can determine exactly how serious your tear is.

Treatment after 72 Hours

You ought to apply ice for periods of 15 minutes at a time, for up to four times a day; after three days, you may alternate between ice and heat treatments. Since torn muscles are liable to be torn once more, you are recommended to undergo physical therapy to build up the strength of your torn muscle. With regards to physical therapy, a good idea to pursue is a monitored program which actually measures the progress of your return to muscular strength, so that you are less likely to aggravate the tear in the future.

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Increase Flexibility in Your Hamstrings

October 22, 2013

If I had a dollar for every time a yoga student or friend bemoaned his or her tight hamstrings, I would be pretty wealthy. It seems that people are super concerned about hamstring flexibility, and strain hard to touch their toes. Frankly, this ability is overrated.

Located on the back of the legs, the hamstrings are made up of three muscles with tendons that cross over both the knee and hip joints. Because the muscle attaches to two joints, any decreased joint mobility affects the length of the muscle.

Because of our sedentary culture, we spend an inordinate amount of time sitting — with both the knees and hips bent. This position directly impacts the length of the hamstrings. Athletic activities, such as running and biking, further shorten the hamstrings. This tightening also affects the pelvis because the tendons attach to the sit bones (ischial tuberosities), the bottom hooks of the pelvic bowl. In sitting, and even in standing, the shortening of the hamstrings can rock the pelvis backward, causing a rounded, slouchy position in the lower back. This rounded position can stress the back muscles, creating the potential for injury.

Now take this understanding of pelvic alignment and physiological length of the hamstrings onto the yoga mat, and move through a series of forward bends: the back muscles and tendons, attached to the sit bones, become genuinely cranky. Too often in yoga classes, students are most concerned with keeping their legs straight while trying to get their hands on the floor in a forward fold. Accomplishing this move really does not matter for general function and mobility, and can actually be injurious if done incorrectly.  If a student strains to get their hands to the floor, and rounds at the pelvis, the lower back (and possibly the hamstring tendons) are at risk of becoming strained.

If the hamstrings are tight but the pelvis is allowed to tip forward as the student moves into a standing forward fold, the lower back is safe and, with time and practice, the student can work on gradually straightening their knees. The goal is to hinge at the hip, so that the lower belly moves toward the upper thighs.  As long as pelvic mobility is not affected, and the core is engaged, a slight tightness in the hamstrings might offer some protection to less-flexible students by acting as a bumper pad to protect them from overstretching the connective tissue in their muscles and tendons.

Moving from the pelvis safely and successfully helps gain and maintain hamstring flexibility.

Complete this practice to help improve both pelvic mobility and hamstring flexibility:

1. Start with cat/cow by going down on all fours. Focus on moving your pelvis by moving the sit bones up and down. Don’t dump into the lower back.

2. Move into downward facing dog. Lift the sit bones up towards the ceiling, lifting the tendons of the hamstrings. Keep the pelvis in this position as you tuck the toes, lift the knees off the ground and gradually straighten the knees. Move into down dog gradually as you keep the pelvis stable, stopping when the knees can no longer straighten without rounding the back.

If your hamstrings are really tight, place your hands on a chair and do the same cat/cow transition into a down dog. The focus should still be on lifting the tailbone.

3. In down dog, place a block between your upper thighs and squeeze the inner thighs together. Try to straighten the knees, with the block in place, by pulling the lower belly in and lightly squeezing the sit bones. This movement activates the hamstrings, inner thighs and quadriceps (on the front thigh).

4.  Lie on your back, and place a strap, or a towel, around your foot and straighten the knee. Instead of pulling the foot closer to your head, keep the foot over the hip point and firm the front thigh muscle/quadricep to stretch the hamstrings. This alignment keeps the pelvis in a slight tilt and does not let the lower back round (as it would if you kept pulling the foot towards the head).

5. Keep your abdominals engaged as you work on your pelvic mobility, on all fours or on your hands in down dog, so that you don’t dump into your lower back.

Completing this practice, and focusing on the pelvis instead of the hamstrings, may get you closer to the promised land of palms on the floor – or not. Remember, yoga is like life.  It isn’t about the result; getting your palms down is much less important than how you move towards that goal.

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