Osteopenia, Osteoporosis and Yoga September 23, 2016 by Jennilee Toner https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/osteopenia-osteoporosis-and-yoga

What happens if you’ve been diagnosed with a bone density loss condition? How can you continue to enjoy the benefits of yoga while taking extra care of your bones?

Hatha yoga – the physical branch of yoga – strengthens, stretches and supports all the systems of the physical body, it calms and clears the mind of unnecessary chatter, and can remove blockages from energetic pathways so that life force can flow with ease.

You’re probably familiar with at least some of these benefits of yoga but what if you have been diagnosed with a bone density loss condition like osteopenia or osteoporosis? Is yoga still beneficial for YOU and your bones? If so, which postures and practices will be beneficial, and which should you approach with more awareness and caution than before? And are there ways that Hatha yoga can help us to prevent or live with the condition?

Osteoporosis: A bone density condition that occurs when bones become weak, brittle and porous.

Osteopenia: A bone density condition that occurs when the body doesn’t make new bone as quickly as it reabsorbs old bone. In Osteopenia, bone density is lower than normal peak density but not low enough to be considered Osteoporosis.

Bone growth, modelling and remodeling
There are 206 bones in the human body (not including the minute bones of the ear). The shapes of our bones are long, short, irregular and flat. Bones grow, model and remodel throughout our lifetimes.
*Growth occurs during childhood and adolescence. In long, short and irregular bones the cartilage is replaced by bone tissue. In flat bones, thin “sheet-like” connective tissues are replaced with bone tissue.
*Modelling is when bones change shape (mostly during adolescence) due to mechanical stressors placed upon them.
*Remodeling is the process of bone breakdown, reabsorption and renewal.

In people diagnosed with osteopenia and osteoporosis there is increased activity of the breakdown cells (osteoclasts) but decreased activity of the bone rebuilding cells (osteoblasts). This low bone turnover (more breakdown then rebuild) leads to low bone density and bone strength, increasing the risk of micro-fractures and fractures.
Osteoblasts: Type of bone that mineralizes and forms bone tissue. Osteoclasts: Type of bone cell that breaks down bone tissue.
Osteocytes: Type of bone cell that regulates the jobs of the osteoblasts and the osteoclasts.

Strengthening your bones with yoga
There are no symptoms for bone density loss conditions such as osteoporosis and osteopenia. Most people only discover they have the condition after their first fracture and have a bone density test. Losing bone is a normal part of ageing so therefore we need to take care of our bones from an early age through exercise and a healthy diet with plenty of calcium and Vitamin D from the sun. Certain groups are more at risk of developing osteoporosis. Always speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about your health.

Bones are living tissue and they respond to mechanical stressors. Weight bearing exercises, including yoga, help tremendously in the remodeling process of our bones. They encourage more bone growth increasing the rate of HEALTHY bone turnover and so are vitally important to practice especially when we are younger.

Holding up one’s body weight in standing postures such as Warrior 1 or 2, balancing postures such as Tree and Dancer, and in horizontal postures such as Plank helps maintain the balance between bones breaking down and bones rebuilding.

Looking after your spine – forward bends and twists
Many spinal fractures are due to poor alignment (poor posture). Because our thoracic spine is already in a convex (kyphotic) curve, we instinctively tend to hunch over a bit. With the over-conditioning of sitting many people have tight, locked-short chest muscles (pectoralis major and minor) and tight, locked-long upper back muscles (rhomboids, mid and lower trapezius) which can take the already kyphotic curve of the thoracic spine and make it dramatically more pronounced, potentially resulting in the syndrome of Kyphosis – a hunchbacked condition also known as Dowager’s Hump. Yoga can help to maintain the spine’s natural curves, read Fountain of youth found in yogi’s spine.

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If you are diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis the likelihood of spinal bone fractures is increased. One family of postures contraindicated for those with osteopenia and osteoporosis are forward bends – for fear of fractures on the anterior (front) portion of the vertebral bodies (irregular bones of the spine).

In order to continue to practice many of the forward bend postures such as Uttanasana (standing forward bend) and Prasarita Padottanasana (standing wide legged forward fold) it is important to bend the knees and tilt from the pelvis – rather than bending at the thoracic spine. It can help to place the hands on blocks so that the spine stays long and there is no extra pressure on the front of the vertebrae.

Other contradictions for those diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis are some spinal twisting poses…especially ones where there is a possibility of a rounded spine occurring in order to get into the twist. It is always wise to remember that Parivrtta (the Sanskrit word that precedes most twisting poses) means REVOLVE and not twist.

Always inhale and lengthen your spine before allowing the hips, ribs, shoulders and skull to revolve slightly around it. When bone density has lessened and the possibility of fractures has increased, it is wise to not do any twisting postures that may require you to round forward to perform the twist. Again, use blocks to prop yourself in such a way to keep the spine lengthened. For example sitting up on a block to raise the hips in seated twists.

Looking after your hips – strong and steady
Many hip fractures that happen in the aging population occur during falls – often due to an inability to balance and/or vision impairment. Those who are diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis have weaker, less dense and porous bones. Falling on these weakened bones increases the risk of bone fractures especially in the hips, ankles and wrists.

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In order to help prevent falls from occurring it is important to strengthen our ability to balance. I tell all my students when they are wobbling while in balancing postures such as Tree or Extended Hand to Big Toe: “Your bones, your bone-connecting tissues (ligaments) and the muscles that surround them are getting stronger…Right Now.”

Practice these poses regularly to build stronger bones and also to prevent the risk of fractures due to falls as you get older.

If you already have been diagnosed with bone density loss it is good to be by a wall or use a chair for many of these balancing poses.

The takeaway message:
To build strong bones and promote healthy bone turnover, practice weight-bearing yoga poses like the Warriors and Plank pose. To minimize the risk of falls (and fractures) as you get older, work on your balance with Tree pose, Dancer’s pose and any other one-legged balances.

If you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia take extra care of your spine by using props to keep your spine long in forward bends (bending from the pelvis, not thoracic spine) and gentle twists.

Yoga For Arthritis ~ Arthritis Foundation http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/

Yoga
Yoga – a blend of physical exercise, breathing techniques and meditation techniques – is practiced around the world in more than 100 different styles. Among those who practice are many people with arthritis, who find that a gentle yoga practice can be easy on their joints, may reduce their symptoms and can promote relaxation. Evidence suggests that regular yoga practice can help reduce joint pain, improve flexibility and physical function, and lower stress and tension. Yoga may also help a person with arthritis build muscle strength and improve balance. Yoga teachers are more than willing to work with you to find pose variations and modifications to accommodate your arthritis. The Arthritis Resource Finder can help you locate a class in your area. The Arthritis Foundation also offers a yoga DVD created especially for people with arthritis.

Modifications
Specific modifications will depend on your joints affected, but a few you may consider include:
*Use props such as blocks, folded blankets and straps to personalize your yoga practice and make it more comfortable.
*Poses can be modified by not going “deep” into the positions.
*Most yoga teachers are more than willing to work with you to find pose variations and modifications to accommodate your arthritis.

Tips
*Practice proper body alignment and equal weight distribution.
*Find a comfortable resting pose to go to if you are feeling pain or discomfort in your joints.
*Always practice yoga poses in your pain-free range.

Progression
*Listen to your body and be mindfully present in the moment as you practice. Do not try to keep up with classmates or have expectations of yourself.
*With regular practice, you will likely gain flexibility, strength and confidence in your yoga practice.

I Was A 36-Year-Old Barre Instructor When I Had A Stroke. Here’s How It’s Changed My Outlook On Health And Wellbeing. Despite leading what I believed to be a healthy lifestyle, I still got sick—and it completely opened my eyes. By Jessica Diaz, As told to Jen Mccaffery

Jessica Diaz is a Boston-based Barre instructor, personal trainer, and mother of two. She had a stroke at age 36 despite leading, what she thought, was an extremely healthy lifestyle. This is her story.

The morning of June 20, 2013, started out like any other. I was 36 years old and had recently become a certified Barre instructor. I led two classes that morning, then ran to another studio to take Zumba. Then, I rushed home, excited to take my daughter to her first kids’ yoga class. Because I was so active, I thought I was living my healthiest life and I was eager to introduce her to the joy of fitness.

I had just jumped in the shower when all of the sudden I felt a shooting pain down my left side. My left arm just sort of let go; I had no control over it. The sensation only lasted about 30 seconds, but it really freaked me out. So I turned off the water, found my husband, and said, “Oh my God, something really bizarre just happened to me,” and went on to explain the sensation I felt in the shower. After looking me over, he said, “You look fine. You’re fine.”

I decided he was probably right, so I got back in the shower.
But soon after, I developed a headache. I do get migraines on occasion, but this felt very different from any headache I’d ever had. I wanted to get out of the shower, but realized that I couldn’t lift my left leg. My husband helped me out of the bathroom and suggested that I lay down. After an hour, I called my primary care doctor and explained my symptoms. The nurse said, “I want you to hang up the phone and call 911.” And I thought, This woman is out of her mind, I have to get to that yoga class.

Then I did everything you’re not supposed to do. I ignored the nurse’s suggestion and blow-dried my hair. I thought she wanted me to go to emergency room, where I’d wait hours to get Tylenol for my particularly severe migraine. I also didn’t love the idea of leaving my daughter, 5, and son, 2. But when the symptoms continued, I finally asked my husband to drive me to the ER. Yoga would have to wait. (Here are 8 things ER docs will never ever do.)

Fortunately, we live close to Mass General, which is an amazing hospital. When I walked into the emergency room, the doctors took me right away and put me in the MRI machine. Although the noise inside the machine resembled the grinding of a trash truck, I fell asleep, which is highly unusual. That’s when I think they knew something was seriously wrong. They pulled me out, and started to piece all my symptoms together. Soon after, they brought my husband in and told me that I was having a stroke. I found out later that it had been going on for about four hours by the time I arrived at the hospital.

I was terrified—and confused. I thought a stroke was only something that happened to really old and sick people. I thought, Wait a minute, I’m a fitness instructor following a healthy lifestyle, and I have this old person disease? No way! My doctors told me it would take five weeks to figure out what was going on with me, including three to four weeks in a rehabilitation hospital to regain use of my left leg. All I could think was, What about my kids? They need their mother.

But miraculously, when I woke up in the hospital the next day, though I was very groggy, I could walk again. As I eventually came to learn, the duration of stroke rehabilitation depends on the severity of the stroke. Some people recover quickly, while others require years of physical and cognitive therapy. I was very lucky. My doctors attributed my quick recovery to the fact that my stroke was, in the scheme of things, not very severe. They also said it was helpful that I got medical attention within the critical three- to four-hour window. Another thing that worked in my favor: my general good health. I had recently lost the 80 pounds I gained during my last pregnancy. Had I not been so fit, my doctors said that my recovery would have been much harder.

I was terrified—and confused. I thought a stroke was only something that happened to really old and sick people. I thought, Wait a minute, I’m a fitness instructor following a healthy lifestyle, and I have this old person disease? No way! My doctors told me it would take five weeks to figure out what was going on with me, including three to four weeks in a rehabilitation hospital to regain use of my left leg. All I could think was, What about my kids? They need their mother.

The diagnosis
My doctors told me I was fortunate. I’d had an ischemic stroke, which blocked blood flow to my brain. My doctors called it a “warning stroke.” They assured me that if I didn’t get treatment, a massive stroke might be a year, month, or even a week away.

While I was in the hospital I underwent a series of routine blood tests that revealed that I have a blood disorder called Factor 5 Leiden, a mutation that increases the chance of clotting. A lot of people live their whole lives with Factor 5 and don’t know it. My doctors also discovered I had a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect called a patent foramen ovale (PFO), which is a small hole in the heart that didn’t close the way it should after birth. All of these issues ultimately caused my stroke.The clot had formed in my heart, passed through the hole, and traveled to my brain. Or as one of my doctors told me, “you had a Tedy Bruschi.”

Tedy Bruschi, a former linebacker for the New England Patriots, had the same blood clotting disorder, the same hole in his heart, and the same stroke during the height of his career. One of my doctors happened to have treated Bruschi and recommended that I talk to him about surgery to repair my heart. Having the surgery wouldn’t guarantee that I’d never have another stroke, but I thought it might help put me at ease.

Bruschi said it wasn’t fun having the surgery but the peace of mind it gave him was worth it. So I decided to go through with it. After the surgery, I thought, Can I really start chasing my kids again and picking them up? Then I thought, Oh wait a minute, Tedy Bruschi’s out there playing football; I can absolutely pick up my kids.

Making peace with my new reality
It was just after I had heart surgery that I made peace with the fact that I’d had a stroke. Initially, after it happened, I didn’t even tell my bosses at the Barre studio. I was embarrassed that I had what I considered to be an “old person’s sickness” and didn’t give myself time to adjust to my new reality.

For many stroke survivors, there’s this sense of the “old me” and the “new me.” I was trying to be the old carefree version of myself that didn’t worry about things like blood clots. But that wasn’t going to keep me healthy.

After some time had passed, I started attending events at the American Heart Association and the Stroke Association. And eventually, I reluctantly shared my story. Afterwards, a woman came up to me with tears in her eyes. She said, “My first stroke was just like yours, and I ignored it. I have two kids at home, and thought I didn’t have time to go to the hospital.” Her symptoms seemed to disappear until a few months later when she was eight weeks pregnant she had a massive stroke.

A new perspective
Having a stroke has changed my life in so many ways. When I look back, I could tell you how many calories I ate for breakfast the day of my stroke, but I had no idea if I had high cholesterol or high blood pressure. I didn’t think I’d have to worry about these things until I was 55 or 60. I was a fad dieter who was all about the number on the scale and fitting into my skinny jeans.

But now my perspective has shifted from the short term to the long-term when it comes to taking responsibility for my health. When I asked my doctors how I should eat after the stroke, they vaguely recommended the food pyramid. I’ve since educated myself a lot on nutrition and learned how high-fat meat and dairy could lead to inflammation that can cause disease. I now follow a plant-based diet. (Editors note: Although a physician did not prescribe Jessica a special diet, this is what she felt was best for her. You should always check in with your health care provider before altering your diet to prevent or cure disease.) I wish I had realized sooner that less salt and less fat in your diet could really have an impact on your health. I know that eating that way earlier probably wouldn’t have prevented my stroke, but 80% of heart disease and stroke are preventable by lifestyle choices, so I’m hoping my diet keeps me healthy in the future.

I’ve also taken responsibility for tracking my health data. People often switch doctors, so they might not know that even though their blood pressure is within the normal range, it’s gone up in the past few years, which could be a sign of a problem. If you’re keeping track of your numbers yourself, you can identify changes and patterns and alert your doctor.

My stroke has also given my new purpose. In addition to teaching Barre and working with the Stroke Association, I’ve been trying to get legislation passed that would provide funding to test pregnant women for Factor 5. (In addition to causing strokes, my blood disorder can also cause a miscarriage.)

My experience has also changed my whole family. Now my husband and I speak to our children about what it takes to be our healthiest selves. My husband and I are avid exercisers, and we tell our kids that I’ve been doing so well since I was in the hospital because I’m taking care of my health. Thankfully I’m able to workout as intensely as I did before the stroke, but staying really hydrated is important for anyone with Factor 5 as well as people who have suffered a stroke because dehydration increases the risk of clotting. Now, you’ll never see me without a water bottle by my side.

When I had my stroke nearly five years ago, it seemed rare. But now I hear about more and more young people having strokes for different reasons. It’s so important to know that it’s ageless. I just hope young women learn the signs and symptoms, so they don’t ignore their stroke. There’s definitely time to make changes so you can prevent a bigger one.

 

Your Poor Quadriceps Muscles by Jonathan FitzGordon

The quadriceps are four muscles grouped together that act to extend the knee and flex the hip. All of the muscles converge into a tendon above the knee that ultimately connects to the shin below the knee. At the top three muscle anchor to the leg and the fourth, the hip flexor, connects to the pelvis.

Our quadriceps muscles are messed up in interesting ways—they are both stretched too long and carry an excess of tension. This is an interesting conundrum as most problem muscles tend to be short and tight or excessively long and lax.

To understand this we have to start with my premise that everyone has a misaligned pelvis with leg bones that are forward of the hips rather than directly in line with the pelvis. This is the posture pattern that I see in 99% of my clients. If you agree with me, and it shouldn’t take much investigation to see it in action around you (if not from you), we can look at what this alignment does to the quadriceps.

Properly aligned quadriceps muscles have a harmonious relationship with the hamstring muscles at the back of the thighs. These two muscle groups work together to lift, flex, extend and move the leg. I have written before about how I think the hamstrings are thrown out of whack by this forward thigh posture. My take isn’t that the hamstrings are tight because they are short, they are tight because they have been pulled away from the forward leaning bone.

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As the forward leaning bone pulls away from the hamstrings it pushes into the quadriceps. While this overstretches all four of these muscles it puts particular strain on the rectus femoris, the only one that attaches to the pelvis.  Another unfortunate thing happens when the quadriceps muscles are in this position—they are forced to assist in holding the body upright because the misaligned bones can’t do their job. The strain that this creates is why we have a muscle that is both overstretched and full of tension.

There are a number of important joints that suffer from our poor posture but the two hips joints are more aggrieved than most.  Getting the legs under to hips to release the quadriceps muscles is a key goal of my walking program. Walking correctly aligns the bones and frees the muscles to work as designed.

Why Savasana Is the Hardest Yoga Pose By Karson McGinley

Savasana might look like a nap at the end of your yoga practice. But it’s actually a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake, yet completely relaxed. In Savasana—also known as corpse pose— you lie down on your back and relax your body and mind so you may fully assimilate the benefits of your asana practice.

During this pose, you close your eyes, breathe naturally, and practice eliminating tension from the body. Ideally, this posture lasts for 10 to 20 minutes. However, even a few minutes of Savasana is said to have powerful benefits.

The Benefits of Savasana

Savasana helps relieve mild depression, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia, according to Yoga Journal. Savasana can calm the nervous system and promote equanimity in your entire body. Fatigued muscles get to relax, tense shoulders and jaws soften, and the eyes quiet down to reflect a quieter state of mind.

Common Challenges of Savasana

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This simple-sounding pose is more difficult than you might realize. The body can cause distractions that make it a challenge. Your body might feel cold, itchy, or unsettled. Savasana occurs at the end of the yoga practice to remedy this obstacle.

By the time you’ve completed asanas, or postures, your body and mind should be tired enough to be able to relax sufficiently for Savasana. Think of it like taking your dog to the park or your kid to Disneyland—the drive home is often the quietest and calmest of the day.

Even if your body is amenable to the rest, your mind can get in the way. Some common thoughts that pop up during Savasana:

~How much longer will we be here?
~Did that guy just snore? That’s embarrassing.
~I hope I didn’t just snore.
~What am I making for dinner when I get home?
~Is this relationship really working out?
~I’m hungry.
~What’s my life all about, anyway?
~I smell like sweat.
~Did I remember to pay the meter?
~Maybe I should quit my job

It’s normal for the mind to try to resist this deep relaxation. Savasana is the ultimate act of conscious surrender. It takes practice and patience to surrender easily.

With the world moving so quickly, cultivating the art of Savasana is more valuable than ever. Our society tends to place greater value on speed and productivity; learning how to do nothing is a skill that can help you become more productive when you need to be.

Savasana helps us learn how to completely surrender, stop fighting the clock, and make space for peace and harmony to fill the soul. Savasana is like turning off your computer when it’s acting up. Once you reboot it, the computer often has greater functionality.

5 Steps to a Successful Savasana

1. Set yourself up for success. Stretch out on your mat and be sure you’re completely comfortable. Use bolsters, pillows, blankets, and cover your eyes with an eye pillow or towel. The more comfortable you are, the more you can relax. The more relaxed you are, the more easily you can surrender. The more open you are to surrendering, the more benefits you’ll receive.

2. Take one final cleansing breath. Your teacher will likely prompt you to take one audible exhale, signaling to your body to release into the pose. This cleansing breath also sends a message to your parasympathetic nervous system that it is safe to relax and be just as you are.

3. Scan for tension. Mentally run through all the parts of your body and try to make them heavier. Be on the lookout for tension hiding in the jaw, temples, shoulders, and hips because stress likes to accumulate in these areas.

4. Then, just notice. Some days will be easier than others, and that’s part of the practice. See if you can be still, at ease, and simply trust that the breath will carry you to the next moment. Watch for those peaceful moments of quiet between the thoughts. Over time, they’ll get longer, and you’ll find more inner quiet.

5. Set an intention.Before you come out of Savasana, take a mental snapshot of how you feel on every level. Ask yourself what you’d like to take with you from your practice, and what you might like to leave behind. Seal these observations into your psyche with an inner smile, and then enjoy a deep inhale to awaken and emerge into your day. Now take a moment to notice that you feel more rested, awake, and alive than you did before.

Savasana is a time of rest, but not a time to sleep. If you have a tendency to fall asleep, the first step is to be compassionate with yourself, and acknowledge that your body needed some rest. Over time, you can train yourself to achieve the rest you need while remaining awake.

Give your Savasana the same attention you give to your Adho Mukha Svanasana
(Downward Dog) and your Virabhadrasana (Warrior II) poses, and notice the effects. If you consistently practice calm and surrender on the mat, it will become easier when you’re no longer on it, which is ultimately why we all practice yoga in the first place.

4 Ways To Make Sure You Never Have To Get A Hip Replacement. By Meghan Rabbitt

4 Ways To Make Sure You Never Have To Get A Hip Replacement. By Meghan Rabbitt

Considering the big jump in the number of hip replacements performed each year—according to the National Center for Health Statistics, the amount of procedures more than doubled over the last 10 years—you might think the surgery is no big deal. Yet while it may be more routine than ever before, it still comes with big risks and is something to avoid if possible, says Joanne Halbrecht, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at the Boulder Institute for Sports Medicine in Colorado.

“The most common reason for hip replacement is osteoarthritis, or the breakdown of cartilage on the surface of the hip joint,” says Halbrecht. “This rough cartilage causes inflammation and pain,” she adds, which can necessitate surgery when symptoms become unbearable.

While there are instances when a hip replacement may be unavoidable—for example, genetics, rheumatoid arthritis, or trauma to the area, such as a hip fracture—there are a number of steps you can take to ensure you keep your joint forever. Here, Halbrecht and other orthopeodic surgeons share their best healthy-hips advice.

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Maintain a healthy weight.
Carrying around extra pounds causes arthritis to progress more quickly and increases pain in arthritic joints, says Halbrecht. “Preventing a hip replacement surgery begins with maintaining healthy hip joints through proper weight,” she says. “Every 10 pounds of weight gain above the waist results in an extra 75 to 100 pounds across the joints, and cartilage can only withstand a certain load before it starts to break down.” In fact, losing just 11 pounds over a 10-year period has been shown to decrease the risk of painful arthritis in women by 50%, says Halbrecht. If you already have hip pain, steer clear of high glycemic index foods, such as sugar, white flour, white rice, and potatoes. “These are inflammatory and can make arthritic joints more painful,” she says.

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Get regular exercise.
Not only will exercise help you maintain a healthy weight, but it’ll also strengthen the muscles around your hips and back—the all-important “core,” says John Ryan, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “When your core is strong, it helps to keep the hips more supported and in better alignment,” says Ryan, which keeps them healthy and pain-free. Ryan recommends varying the types of exercises you do. “I tell my patients to hop on a bike, elliptical machine, swim, walk, and hike,” he says. This will help you use different muscle groups to gain overall strength and flexibility without overtaxing the muscles and joints in just one area (such as your hips).

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Modify your activities.
Luke Spencer-Gardner, MD, an orthopedist at the Hip Preservation Center at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, suggests following this rule: If it hurts, don’t do it. “Sometimes it’s appropriate to push through some pain, but in general—and certainly when it comes to hip pain—modifying activities is a powerful non-surgical option to avoid continued damage and pain in the hip joint,” he says. For example, if deep squats cause discomfort, try half squats or leg extensions instead, he says. “For patients who have pain when walking or running, try taking the workout to the pool to offload impact on the hips.”

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If you have consistent hip pain, seek out a specialist.
The earlier a hip problem is diagnosed, the better, says Michael Banffy, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles. “We know that through proper strengthening exercises and avoidance of certain motions, we can decrease hip impingement symptoms,” he says. “However, sometimes it’s necessary to perform minimally invasive surgery to eliminate the impingement, which can lead to hip preservation and ideally avoidance of a hip replacement down the road.” Talk to your primary care physician if your hip pain is intense or a consistent, nagging issue, and ask for a referral to an orthopedic surgeon or hip specialist. “Overall, if you’re experiencing hip pain, don’t ignore it,” adds Banffy. “A specialist can properly diagnose and treat any issues to help you preserve your hip joint as long as possible.”

8 Crucial Things Runners Over 50 Do To Stay Pain-Free​ Learn how to nix the ouch while logging miles, no matter your age. By Amy Schlinger

8 Crucial Things Runners Over 50 Do To Stay Pain-Free​ Learn how to nix the ouch while logging miles, no matter your age. By Amy Schlinger

While 50 might be the new 40, there’s no denying that as we get older, our bodies change. (Here are 9 things every woman in her 50s should do.) What you were able to do just a few years ago may now leave your muscles feeling extra sore, and that’s understandable. But just because your 10K training run leaves you super achy (and perhaps unable to do your easy three-mile shake out run the following day), don’t give up. We asked real women runners 50 and over to share their secrets to avoiding agony.

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Pay Attention To Your Pain

“Nothing good has ever come from training through pain! If running is causing any sort of pain, I always opt to do non-impact cardio until the pain has completely subsided. But my favorite preventative strategy involves strength training: I have had the same lifting partner for over 25 years. Even through we are both in our 50s, we can lift almost as much as we did over 30 years ago. Training consistently—at least two days per week—and having a partner who helps keep me accountable has been a tremendous help.”
—Carla Criste, 53, Annapolis, MD, assistant director of athletics and head women’s track and field coach at the United States Naval Academy who’s been running since age 13

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Stay Limber
“I have had my share of injuries over several decades of running and racing, but it looks like yoga might be my secret ingredient to—knock on wood—staying fairly injury-free. I started practicing regularly seven years ago, and it has made a big difference. After running for miles, getting on the mat during yoga sessions allows me to quiet down and identify tight ‘hot’ spots while I’m stretching and strengthening during. The yoga poses also hit the tiny muscles and areas that I frequently miss during my quick post-run stretching.” —Stefani Jackenthal, 51, New York, NY, running since age 10

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Practice Self-Care
“After a long run, I always soak in a warm Epsom salt bath. I’m a bit stubborn when it comes to taking anti-inflammatory medication—I prefer not to do it because I’m weary of the side effects—so the baths help. I also avoid wearing high heels while I am in training to avoid putting extra stress on my muscles, take full advantage of my rest days, and I eat plenty of protein and drink lots of water.” —Wendy Stella, 52, Oak Park, IL, running since age 47

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Rotate Your Running Shoes
“I make sure my running shoes have not worn down. They should be replaced every six months or so depending on the distance you run.” —Cheryl Kardish-Levitan, 63, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, running since age 21.

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Resist Being Sedentary
“I run three to four days per week, no more, preferably outside. I also try not to sit for prolonged periods of time at work or at home.” —Brenda Koehler, 52, Collegeville, PA, running since age 20

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Maintain Balance
“I run in the fringes. Most people spend so much time in the middle they never let their body recover. Hard runs are no more than 20 percent of my runs, and easy runs should be so easy you could hold a conversation the entire time. Keeping the hard, hard and easy, easy not only keeps you pain-free but also fast.” —Michelle Handren, about to turn 50, Chicago, IL, running since age 37

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Soak Away Soreness
“I soak my feet and legs in an ice bath every night and add a little lavender to the water. I find it helps keep inflammation at bay.” —Virginia Davies, 62, New York, NY, running since age 54

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Keep Inflammation At Bay
“I try to reduce inflammation throughout my body, so I eat anti-inflammatory foods—specifically ones that are high in turmeric—use essential oils topically, and practice myofacial release with a roller. I also stretch, even when I don’t feel like it, focusing on my low back, hips, and hamstrings.” —Carolyn Singer, 56, New York, NY, running since age 50

Donna Farhi on Why Success in Yoga is About Opening Our Hearts, Not Our Hips.

“My partner tells me the purpose of Yoga practice is very simple: To open the heart.  I can think of no better definition.”
By Donna Farhi
First published in the March/April 1997 Yoga Journal USA, reprinted here by permission of Donna Farhi.

It’s late afternoon and one of my long-time students has come to visit.  After a few minutes of chitchat, Sarah relates how inadequate she felt at the Yoga workshop she attended over the weekend.  Just about everyone could do the advanced postures except her, and she left feeling that her practice was inferior.  I asked Sarah what her life was like when she began practicing Yoga and whether she had noticed any changes since then.  After a brief pause, all kinds of insights began to pour forth as she recalled how difficult and confused so many areas of her life had been and how so many of those rough patches had been smoothed over.
Since that meeting, I’ve been struggling with the question of how we measure success in Yoga practice– others’ and ours.  I’ve begun to question the gauges we use to draw our conclusions.
In particular, I’ve noticed– in myself and others whose Yoga practice focuses on the physical postures– how deceptive the outward indicators of so-called achievement can be, and how some of the most remarkable changes can go unnoticed and unacknowledged.  How do we measure a movement toward greater kindness and respect for others?  How do we gauge the strengthening of presence and awareness?
Many of us entered the world of Yoga through the door marked “physical.” In measuring our success, it is too easy to make a direct correlation between our physical adeptness (or lack thereof) and the state of our souls.
We must begin to reevaluate our measuring devices so that our sense of satisfaction with others and ourselves is not identified with physical form.  If we measure ourselves on the finicky jeweller’s scale of the back bends we can do, the arm balances we have mastered, and the flexibility of our hips, we will find ourselves cast adrift the moment any of these attributes is taken from us. Life gives and life takes. Through injuries, ageing, life changes, and sheer economics, we may find that what we could do yesterday we cannot do today. Will we then pronounce ourselves failures?
My partner tells me the purpose of Yoga practice is very simple: To open the heart. I can think of no better definition.When students query me about “the right way” and “doing things correctly,” I ask them to reframe their questions. I ask them to measure their success in their postures not by how far they went but by how aware they were in each moment. I ask them to judge the correctness of their positions not by what they look like but by what makes them feel most alive, most present, and most whole.
Instead of, “How many hours did I spend on the mat today?” we can ask, “How did I live my practice in every moment of the day?”
I fear that something is tragically missing in hatha yoga practice when I see someone who–through the most diligent effort– has managed to become a perfect posture instead of a person.
Our society tells us that success had to do with how much money we earn, what kind of car we drive, how we look. We would be foolish to think that just because we practice Yoga we are immune to the dangers of such superficial criteria. Three people show up to our class and we feel like a failure. Thirty people pack the studio and we pronounce that we’ve made it.  As long as we measure success using society’s devices, we will be as fraught with fear of failure as any executive scrambling up the corporate ladder.
When we do balance in hand stand, when we finally accomplish that deep backbend, anyone who has been there could tell you: Nothing happens.  It hasn’t brought us one iota closer to ourselves or others, unless somewhere along the way it helped us to open our hearts.

Befriending the Body, Befriending the Self: A Yoga Intensive with Donna Farhi
Donna Farhi has been teaching since 1982 and is the author of many contemporary Yoga classics.  She’ll be leading an intensive, Befriending the Body, Befriending the Self, on the Gold Coast, Australia, October 27-31, where participants can explore fostering a more nourishing relationship with themselves and their Yoga practice.

About Donna Farhi

 

 

Donna Farhi is a Yoga teacher who has been practicing for 40 years and teaching since 1982. She is one of the most sought after guest teachers in the world, leading intensives and teacher training programs internationally. Her approach to Yoga is informed by the refinement of natural and universal movement principles that underlie safe and sustainable Yoga practice. This concentration on fundamental principles allows students of all levels of experience and from all traditions to build their own authentic Yoga practice. Considered the “teacher of teachers” students return to Donna’s intensives year after year to be a part of the inspiring evolution of Donna’s own practice and teaching.

How Sitting Too Much Is Making Us Sick and Fat — And What to Do About It By Chris Kresser

How Sitting Too Much Is Making Us Sick and Fat — And What to Do About It By Chris Kresser.

There’s no question that regular exercise is essential to health. For the vast majority of our evolutionary history, we’ve had to exert ourselves — often quite strenuously — to get food, find shelter and simply survive. We naturally spent a lot of time outdoors in the sun, walking, hunting, gathering, and performing various other physically-oriented tasks. We had no concept of this as “exercise” or “working out.” It was just life.

Things are different today. Most people in modern societies spend the majority of their time indoors, sitting on their butts (like you’re probably doing right now). The typical U.S. adult is sedentary for 60 percent of their waking hours and sits for an average of six hours per day (and often much more, in the case of those who work primarily on computers). In fact, being sedentary is now the norm and exercise is primarily seen as an intervention — something we do to guard against the negative impacts of a sedentary lifestyle.

An Epidemic of Sedentary Behavior: The Perils of Too Much Sitting
This increase in sedentary time and decrease in physical activity has profoundly impacted our health. Too much sitting is associated with numerous problems, ranging from weight gain, to osteoporosis, to cardiovascular disease. For example, research has shown that:
Sitting decreases the activity of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which helps burn fat.
Too much sedentary time decreases bone mineral density without increasing bone formation, which raises the risk of fracture.
Excess sitting increases blood pressure and decreases the diameter of arteries, both of which make heart disease more likely.

Even worse, too much sitting could shorten your life. Studies in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Asia have all found an association between increased sedentary time and the risk of early death. These associations were independent of traditional risk factors such as smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, waist circumference and diet.

The “Active Couch Potato”: Why Exercise Isn’t Enough
I’m sure this isn’t news to you; most people are aware that physical activity is essential to good health. But what you may not know is that too much sitting time is harmful even if you’re getting enough exercise.

This means you could be meeting the recommended guidelines for exercise (i.e., 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, five days a week), but still be at higher risk of disease if you sit for long periods each day. In fact, a large study involving over 100,000 U.S. adults found that those who sat for more than six hours a day had up to a 40 percent greater risk of death over the next 15 years than those who sat for less than three hours a day. Most importantly, this effect occurred regardless of whether the participants exercised. Some research even suggests that people who exercise intensely (like marathon runners) are more likely to be sedentary when they’re not exercising. They may assume that their training regimen protects them from the harmful effects of too much sitting when they’re not exercising. It doesn’t.

In industrialized societies, this “active couch potato” phenomenon has become the norm rather than the exception. If you work in an office, commute by car and watch a few hours of TV each night, it’s not hard to see how you could spend the vast majority of your waking life (up to 15 hours!) sitting on your butt. This is far outside of evolutionary norms for humans, and has serious consequences for our health.

Move Like Your Ancestors: Become an “Organic Mover”
We’ve established that 1) too much sitting is harmful, and 2) exercise alone isn’t enough to reverse the harmful effects of too much sitting. It follows, then, that for optimal health we should reduce sitting time and increase “non-exercise” physical activity. The best way to achieve this is by embracing what I call “organic movement”: incorporating physical activity throughout your day in addition to performing distinct periods of exercise. This mimics the ancestral pattern of activity that humans are biologically and genetically adapted to.

In general, I recommend standing or walking for at least 50 percent of the day, and not sitting for more than two hours at a time without taking a short standing or walking break. If you work in an occupation that involves sitting for long periods, here are a few ways to accomplish this:

Work at a standing desk. Many employers permit this now, and more will follow once they understand the potential benefits in terms of reduced absenteeism, lower health care costs and higher productivity in their employees.

Work at a treadmill desk. If you want to take a standing desk to the next level, and you work at home or have a progressive employer, try a treadmill desk. (I use one of these in my home office, and it has changed my life. Read this post for more info.)

Walk or bicycle to work. This isn’t always possible, but with a little creativity it often is. If you live too far away to walk or ride exclusively, consider driving part of the way and walking or cycling for the remainder.

Take a standing or walking break. Stand up for at least two minutes every hour. If possible, take a brief walk or do some light stretching. Even short breaks like this can make a big difference. If you have trouble remembering to do this, try setting an alarm on your phone each time you sit down again, or use an app like Time Out (Mac) or Workrave (Windows).

Stand up at meetings. If you’re worried about what your colleagues might think, just tell them you have a bad back!

Sit more actively. Sitting inactively in a chair isn’t the only way to sit. Consider sitting on a yoga ball for periods of time instead of a chair, or place an “active sitting disc“ on your chair and sit on that. Both of these options will force you to make small postural adjustments while you’re sitting, which mitigates some of the harmful effects of being sedentary. These micro-movements can add up to a significant expenditure of calories throughout the day.