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Health Benefits of Yoga

  · What is Yoga?
Yoga is a mind and body practice with a 5,000 year history in ancient Indian philosophy (Ross & Thomas, 2010). However, in more recent years, it has become popular as a form of exercise. Incorporating breathing exercises, meditation, and poses designed to encourage relaxation, yoga can amount to immense physical and mental benefits. All you need to start practicing is proper activewear, and a yoga mat.

How is yoga different from stretching?
Yoga poses have two very distinct qualities that need to be cultivated in order to be considered “yoga”, described in the Yoga Sutras as sthira sukham asanam (Ross & Thomas, 2010). Translated to English, In order for postures to be considered yoga, there has to be a balance of steadiness and alertness, as well as comfort and ease in the mind, body and breath of the practitioner.

How do you know if you’re doing it right?
1. Are you moving in sync with your breathing? Let your breath guide you in and out of postures. If your breathing becomes short or disturbed, come out of the movement and breathe freely.
2. Where is your attention placed? Focus on the present moment and be mindful of your thoughts. When your mind begins to drift, return your focus back to your breath.
3. Is there a balance of stability and sense of ease as you perform the poses? Never force the body into a particular form. Ask for modifications, or avoid doing poses that are uncomfortable for you to do (Ross & Thomas, 2010).

Benefits include:
Physical
  · Increased flexibility
  · Increased muscle strength and tone
  · Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  · Maintaining a balanced metabolism
  · Weight reduction
  · Cardio and circulatory health
  · Improved athletic performance
Mental
  · Managing stress
  · Mental clarity & calmness
  · Increases body awareness
  · Sharpens concentration

Ross, A., & Thomas, S. (2010). The health benefits of yoga and exercise: A review of comparison studies. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 16(1). doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0044

Superior Labral tear from Anterior to Posterior (SLAP) Tear

What is a SLAP tear?

The shoulder labrum is a ring of cartilage around the shoulder socket that stabilizes the head of the upper arm bone. As one of the most complex joints in the body, the shoulder joint is held together by an intricate network of tendons, ligaments and soft tissue. A SLAP tear is a torn piece of cartilage in the inner portion of the shoulder joint that can be caused by chronic or acute injuries, as well as aging (Knesek et al., 2012). 

Athletes participating in sports requiring repetitive overhead motions, such as baseball, swimming or weightlifting, are at risk of developing a SLAP tear over time. Acute trauma, such as falling on an outstretched arm, or quickly moving the arm over shoulder level can also be a cause of a SLAP tear. Tearing or fraying the labrum can also develop as a part of general aging, and is not uncommon in people over 40 years of age. 

Symptoms of a SLAP tear can include pain when moving or holding the shoulder in specific positions, reduced range of motion, decrease in shoulder power, locking or clicking in the shoulder, or discomfort when lifting items (Knesek et al., 2012).

Prevention?

If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Knesek, M., Skendzel, J., Dines, J., Altchek, D., Allen, A., & Bedi, A. (2012). Diagnosis and management of superior labral anterior posterior tears in throwing athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 41(2). doi:10.1177/0363546512466067

Addressing Low Back Pain while Performing a Squat (Weighted or Unweighted)

Athletes around the world regularly perform weighted squats. Research has shown that squatting has a direct impact on your body’s power, which is the ability to overcome a resistance with speed (Loxtercamp, 2018). Therefore, squatting can result in great power and an increase in sprint speed. General benefits include increased flexibility, greater core strength, as well as protection from injury as a result of better coordination of the body. 

However, squats have been known to cause unwanted low back soreness. Although squatting will work the muscles of the lower back, if the low back becomes the most targeted region during the squat, chronic soreness and overuse injury can occur. Previous injury to the lower back, poor technique, as well as weakness of the core or surrounding muscles can contribute to this overuse of the back muscles (Gordon & Bloxham, 2016). Barbell back squats are also the most common for causing back pain as the weight is loaded across the back (Loxtercamp, 2018). If you find this movement difficult, but still want to add weight to your squats, you may want to opt for goblet squats or front squats. 

Goblet Squats

Front Squats

Prevention

  • Proper footwear
  • Progressing weight/load too quickly when squatting
  • Correct stance and posture
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_CuIKf227A
  • Spinal alignment
    • Ensure you’re looking straight ahead or an upward gaze 
  • Joint mobility 

If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Gordon, R., & Bloxham, S. (2016). A systematic review of the effects of exercise and physical activity on non-specific chronic low back pain. Healthcare. 4(2). doi:10.3390/healthcare4020022

Loxtercamp, B. (2018). Influence of attentional focus on a weighted barbell back squat among experienced performers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 50(1). doi:10.1248/01.mss.0000536504.18312.43