Releasing tight hip flexors after long sitting

If you have a desk-related job you know how tight your body can feel after a few hours of sitting. Also driving for a couple hours makes us feel like we are made from cardboard. Loosening up gently is important after both situations to prevent back and hip pain. Plenty of simple yoga practices can counter tightness. They will also improve blood circulation and oxygen intake, which increases energy and alertness. This blog focuses on one yoga practice that helps with releasing hip flexors. This set of muscles can get particularly tight after being held in a contracted position for hours.

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Back pain and joint pain during the menopause

If you are currently going through the perimenopause or menopause and you have back pain, this blog is for you. I’ll explain briefly how changing hormone levels can affect your joints and muscles, and suggest yoga therapy practices to keep you supple and strong. Far from just being a sign of old age, spine and peripheral joint pain can be the result of fluctuating hormone levels. Moreover, slower production of estrogen can lead to bone loss and the risk of osteoporosis later in life. If you are perimenopausal or menopausal, read here what you can do to support your spine and back health. Of course, it wouldn’t be yoga therapy without attention to the mind as well. The last paragraphs explain how the breath can help you navigate mood swings and feel more peaceful.

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Five guidelines for a healthy back

We usually don’t think about our back until it hurts. And yet, a painful and stiff back can drain our energy, compromise daily functioning and make us feel old. Why is it that we have all sorts of potions to prevent skin ageing and fitness regimes to stay muscular, but we forget about a crucial part of our body that allows us to fully enjoy life? Arthritis of the spine is a form of wear and tear that we can to some extent prevent. A stiff lower back is often the result of inactivity or excessive activity. Both conditions makes us feel older than we need to be. Whether you have back pain or not, it’s never too soon or too late to look after your back. This blog discusses five guidelines for a healthy back, and the simple things you can do to keep your back in good condition. Incorporate these into your daily routine, and you’ll give yourself the best chance to feel younger and stay active.

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Official guidelines for the treatment of low back pain and how yoga therapy can help

Looking back at the 2018 overview of low back pain studies in The Lancet, I wonder if much has changed in these past years. This leading medical journal announced that low back pain has increased worldwide. It stated that the medical approaches used in high-income countries, such as surgery, medication, injections and imaging, are not effective. The studies suggest further that exercise, education, and psychological therapies are most appropriate for the majority of low back pain cases. The pandemic hasn’t improved the prevalence of back pain. Instead, working from home may have increased back stiffness and pain. Back care treatments were interrupted and now often still have long waiting lists. Surprisingly, 24.4% of Covid survivors report back pain as a new associated pain (International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Sept. 22). Now more than ever, The Lancet’s simple guidelines can help us forward. This blog examines the treatment guidelines for low back pain, and explains how yoga therapy can help. With its emphasis on simple practices, breath optimisation and relaxation, it offers what the research prescribes.  

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Using the Breath to Heal Lower Back Pain

Healing lower back pain requires a broad approach, with daily practices to relax and strengthen muscles, attention to posture and stress reduction. What conventional approaches often overlook is the power of the breath and the importance of the diaphragm. Using the breath to heal lower back pain may sound surprising. In yoga therapy, however, relaxed breathing is central to healing lower back pain. In this blog I explain the connection between the diaphragm and the back. The importance of a freely moving diaphragm for our wellbeing cannot be stressed enough.

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Outdoor stretching to ease tight muscles

September is the ideal time for longer walks in nature. The temperatures are mild and the air is fresh and laden with the heavier scent of turning leaves. But unless you are young and fit, a hike may leave you feeling tight in your back and legs. Instead of waiting to your next stretching or yoga class, why not pause in the middle of your walk to look after your hard-working muscles? Taking a break to stretch will allow you to continue the journey with more ease. You don’t need a yoga mat to stretch but can release tight muscles in a standing position. Indeed, outdoor stretching to ease tight muscles is a wonderful way to take in the scenery, breathe deeply and uplift the spirits. Here are a few easy suggestions of how to do it. I hope they can make your next walk even more enjoyable!

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How daily habits can exacerbate sacroiliac joint pain

sacroiliac joints

Several of my lower back pain students suffer from sacroiliac joint pain, and I’ve experienced it myself. The nagging or sometimes excruciating pain in the lowest part of the back can be caused by the misalignment and/or inflammation of the sacroiliac joints. Even when slightly out of alignment, the sacroiliac joints can give you a dragging-down, heavy feeling in the lower back. My last blog demonstrated yoga therapy practices that can help relieve this pain. This blog discusses what can exacerbate sacroiliac joint pain in terms of movements and postural habits. Read on if you’re prone to this kind of lower back pain.

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Sacroiliac joint pain: how yoga can help

Despite not being very well known, sacroiliac joint pain is quite a common form of lower back pain. Caused by the misalignment or wear and tear of the sacroiliac joints, it usually presents as dull pain or a heavy feeling in one or both sides of the lowest, bony part of the back. Occasionally, the pain can be intense and acute, with possible referred pain to the groin, hip or even the back thigh. In this blog I demonstrate a few yoga practices that can ease sacroiliac joint pain and tightness. My next blog will focus on how certain stretches, movements and daily habits can make sacroiliac joint pain worse.

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Yoga for Ankylosing Spondylitis and Axial Spondyloarthritis

Lower back pain, buttock pain, extreme exhaustion, stiffness after inactivity, pain that doesn’t ease with rest, difficulty breathing deeply … all these are symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, also known as radiographic axial spondyloarthritis. Because this form of arthritis typically starts in teenage years, it’s not easily diagnosed and sometimes dismissed as “growing pains”. It’s more common in men, which can make it even harder for women to receive the right diagnosis. Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic condition for which there’s no cure at the moment. Therefore, managing AS is all the more important: the right medication can relieve the pain and control the symptoms. Also the right exercise and a healthy lifestyle are crucial. This blog about yoga for ankylosing spondylitis and axial spondyloarthritis discusses how yoga can help with the physical symptoms as well as the emotional stress associated with this chronic condition.

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Self-care tips for a healthy back

If you feel exasperated with nagging back pain or tight shoulders and neck, this blog is for you. These self-care tips for a healthy back demonstrate simple practices to release tight muscles and strengthen core muscles. While feeling stronger and more flexible on a physical level is a good start, no good back care programme is complete without breath optimisation and relaxation. After all, the mind and body are intrinsically linked, so repetitive and mindless exercises are not sufficient to deal with back pain. If you would like to learn more about back care, read to the end of the blog to find out about my new 5-week back care group class, starting this April.

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