The Right Run- Incorrect vs. Correct #Graphically

NOTE: This post explains Biomechanics of Running pictorially.

Which Runner are You?

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Incorrect Vs. Correct

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Achieving Good Running Form

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Exercising in Ankylosing Spondylitis

Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis is what many often enquire about. People ask for treatment that completely cures ankylosing spondylitis disorder. Well, there is no known curative treatment for ankylosing spondylitis. However, there are different techniques & methods that reduce the effects or intensity of ankylosing spondylitis considerably.
Understanding ankylosing spondylitis, is very important so that you can opt for the best suited treatment for it. Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis that mainly affects spinal cord & sacroiliac joints, causing fusion of the spine- Bamboo Spine. It is of type autoimmune spondyloarthropathy. There may be involvement of other organs such as kidneys, lungs, eyes and heart. Hence, when your diagnosis is ankylosing spondylitis, you should immediately seek the treatment.

Treatment for ankylosing spondylitis includes various options such as medications, exercise & physiotherapy.
Goal of Treatment: Relieve pain, manage symptoms & prevent further progress of the disease.
  • Various types of movements of back & neck
  • Deep breathing for expansion of lungs
  • Stretching exercises for joint mobility
  • Guidelines- Maintaining erect posture is also very important to reduce spinal scoilotic curvature. Slipping on firm surface & avoid use of pillow while sleeping
  • Yoga can provide a relief from pain, stiffness, improve breathing & improve the range of mobility.
  • Yoga also helps to reduce stress and maintain the energy of patients
  • Asanas: (positions in Yoga) such as Vajra Asana, Dhanura Asana, Makara Asana, Bhujanga Asana, Ardha Matsyendrasana & Neti kriya help to remove rigidity, improve flexibility of joints & also correct bad posture. Pranayama is helpful for muscle relaxation as well as to improve the movements of ribs & changes in pressure within abdomen & chest
  • Before practicing Yoga session, a person should perform stretching to prevent sprains, muscle strains or further injuries
  • Build flexibility, increase strength, endurance, & coordination in legs, abdominals, arms & back.
  • Help with maintaining the  natural curves of the body
  • Create a neutral position for each joint that is close to the optimal alignment of the head, shoulders, thorax, spine & pelvis which ensures that all sections of the body are in their ideal place
However, high-impact exercises such as jogging & sports are jarring to your frame and are generally not recommended. Instead, engage in Tai chi, Swimming because it involves all muscles & joints in a low-impact, buoyant environment. Cycling can also help restore lost movement.
Option of surgery is also viable, in case of severe ankylosing spondylitis condition. Joint replacement surgery, especially of hip and knees is opted for reducing further development of ankylosing spondylitis.
Exercise, even in small five to 10 minute doses, can improve posture & mobility. According to the Spondylitis Association of America, most people say that their condition improves after exercise. However, first consult a rheumatologist or physical therapist before you begin, because movements that may be beneficial under normal conditions may actually harm those with AS.
Time Frame
Convenience and consistency are the most important parts of your routine. If you feel stiff in the morning, then you may try to loosen up early & then exercise in the midday or evening. If necessary, you can split your exercises throughout the day. For example, you can first do exercises while lying down, and then later in the day you can work on neck stretches or deep breathing.
Much relief can be gained in ankylosing spondylitis by following an exercise regime consistently.
DISCLAIMER: Please consult your medical professional before beginning exercises.

Why should Senior Citizens Exercise?

Welcome to one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Exercise!-The fountain of youth!

For the most part, when older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it is not because they have aged. More likely, it is because they have become inactive.

The human body is made for movement, and this applies to senior citizens too.
As you grow older, leading an active lifestyle is more important than ever. Regular exercise can help boost your energy, maintain your independence, and manage the symptoms of any illness or pain. Exercise can even reverse some of the symptoms of aging. And not only is exercise good for your body—it’s also good for your mind, mood, and memory.

No matter your age or your current physical condition, you can benefit from exercise. Reaping the rewards of exercise doesn’t require strenuous workouts or trips to the gym. It’s about adding more movement and activity to your life, even in small ways.

Don’t worry if you’ve never exercised, or if you stopped exercising for some reason. Being physically active can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and stay independent as you age. In addition, the right kind of regular exercise can reduce your chance of heart disease, diabetes, and falls.
You may have a hard time starting an exercise routine. Once you do start, though, you will begin to notice the benefits, including improved sleep and self-esteem.

What can Exercise do for Me?

Most people know that exercise is good for them. Somehow, though, older adults have been left out of the picture — until recently. Today a new picture is emerging from research: Older people of different physical conditions have much to gain from exercise and from staying physically active. They also have much to lose if they become physically inactive.

Exercise isn’t just for older adults in the younger age range, who live independently and are able to go on brisk jogs. Researchers have found that exercise and physical activity also can improve the health of people who are 90 or older, who are frail, or who have the diseases that seem to accompany aging. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay some diseases and disabilities as people grow older. In some cases, it can improve health for older people who already have diseases and disabilities, if it’s done on a long-term, regular basis.

Physical Health benefits:

  • Helps maintain or lose weight: As metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge. Exercise helps increase metabolism and builds muscle mass, helping to burn more calories. When your body reaches a healthy weight, overall wellness improves. 
  • Reduces the impact of illness & chronic disease: Among the many benefits of exercise for seniors include improved immune function, better heart health and blood pressure, better bone density, and better digestive functioning. Seniors who exercise also have a lowered risk of several chronic conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and colon cancer. 
  • Enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance: Exercise improves your strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination, and reducing the risk of falls. Strength training also helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis. 

Mental Health Benefits:

  • Improves your sleep: Poor sleep is not an automatic consequence of aging and quality sleep is important for your overall health. Exercise often improves sleep, helping you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply. 
  • Boosts mood and self-confidence: Endorphins produced by exercise can actually help you feel better and reduce feelings of sadness or depression. Being active and feeling strong naturally helps you feel more self-confident and sure of yourself. 
  • Exercise is good for the brain: Exercise benefits regular brain functions and can help keep the brain active, which can prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Exercise may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

Not sure if you can Exercise

You may be reluctant to start exercising, even though you’ve heard that it’s one of the healthiest things you can do. You may be afraid that physical activity will harm you; or you might think you have to join a gym or buy expensive equipment in order to exercise. Or, you may feel embarrassed to exercise because you think it’s for younger people or for people who look great in gym clothes. You may think exercise is only for people who are able to do things like jogging.

In fact, just about every older adult can safely do some form of physical activity at little or no cost. And you don’t have to exercise in a public place or use expensive equipment, if you don’t want to.

Even household chores can improve your health. The key is to increase your physical activity, by exercising and by using your own muscle power.

Benefits Everyday Life:
The most rewarding part of beginning a fitness routine is noticing the difference it makes in the rest of your life. Even if you begin exercising with a few simple stretches while seated or a short walk around the block, you’ll notice an improvement in how you feel as you go about your day.

  • House cleaning, gardening, shopping, and errands. Want to feel less winded while vacuuming or rushing to and from appointments? Doing just 15 to 20 minutes of heart-healthy cardio each day, such as walking, biking, swimming, or water aerobics will help give you the stamina you need. 
  • Lifting grandchildren, carrying groceries, household chores. Building muscle mass a few times each week through weight lifting, resistance exercises, and nautilus machines will help give you more strength. 
  • Tying shoes, looking behind you while driving, navigating steps. Incorporating basic stretching—even while seated—into your fitness routine will make the most ordinary movements easier. 

Check with you doctor if you have…

  1. Chest pain 
  2. Irregular, rapid, or fluttery heart beat 
  3. Severe shortness of breath 
  4. Significant, ongoing weight loss that hasn’t been diagnosed 
  5. Infections, such as pneumonia, accompanied by fever 
  6. Fever, which can cause dehydration and a rapid heart beat 
  7. Acute deep-vein thrombosis (blood clot) 
  8. Hernia that is causing symptoms 
  9. Foot or ankle sores that won’t heal 
  10. Joint swelling 
  11. Persistent pain or a problem walking after you have fallen 
  12. Certain eye conditions, such as bleeding in the retina or detached retina. Before you exercise after a cataract or lens implant, or after laser treatment or other eye surgery, check with your physician. 

DISCLAIMER: Always talk to your health care provider before starting an exercise program.

How to be comfortable in Labour

The anxiety of pregnancy followed by painful childbirth dogs most women. However, following a few easy steps and making adequate preparations can significantly make labour easy.

Fear of the unknown is one of the biggest factors that contributes to pain. Throughout labour, the woman, if not aware, will be anxious whether the developments in her body are normal or not, which is why it is important to tell women beforehand what to expect.

Everyone’s labour is different, and pinpointing when it begins is not really possible. It’s more of a process than a single event, when a number of changes in your body work together to help give birth.

In early labour, also called the latent phase you may feel: 

  • Persistent low back or abdominal pain, usually accompanied by the crampy premenstrual feeling.
  • A bloody show (a brownish or blood-tinged mucus discharge). If you pass the mucus plug that blocks the cervix, labour could be imminent or it could be several days away. But it’s a sign that things are moving along.
  • Painful contractions occurring at regular and increasingly shorter intervals and become longer and stronger in intensity.

How you feel in early labour depends on whether you’ve had a baby before, how you perceive and respond to pain, and how prepared you are for what labour may be like.

What should be done in early labour?
This will depend on what time of day it is, what you like doing and how you’re feeling. Keeping calm & relaxed will help your labour to progress and help you cope with the contractions.
This could mean watching a favourite film, relaxing, or asking a friend or relative over to keep you company. You could alternate between walking and resting, or try taking a warm bath or shower to ease any aches & pains. If you can, try to get some rest to prepare you for the work ahead. 
During early labour, you may feel hungry so eat & drink if you feel like it. This will help to comfort you and help you to rest. 
Early labour is a good time to try out various positions & breathing techniques to see if they help you cope with the contractions.

How make yourself comfortable during labour?
One’s posture tells a vivid story about the person’s state of mind. When tensed, we tend to curl into a ball, like a new born baby. Our shoulders get hunched, we tuck are chin in, bend our elbows & pull in out arms. When pain is felt, we adopt a similar position.
Some of the strategies that can be used to relax during labour include:

  • Postural Awareness
  • Relaxation Posturing
  • Visualization & Imagery
  • Breathing Patterns
  • Labour Positions
  • Touch & Massage

Postural Awareness:
Being aware of your posture can be used when you are tensed or in pain. Relaxation can be obtained when consciuosly you move from a posture of pain to a posture of relaxation.
Relaxation Posturing:
Irrespective of which posture you choose, maximum relaxation can be obtained when the whole body is completely supported. This can be achieved by taking complete support from in the chosen position & with the use of pillows.
In Sitting-

Sit with complete back support, from buttocks to neck, arms resting on arm rests & feet on the floor. If your feet do not reach the floor, keep a pillow or a stool to place your feet on. Hips & knees both should be at 90 degrees.

Leaning forward, resting your head on a table is also a good posture for relaxing. Make sure the edge of the table is not pressing against the baby.

In Lying-

Visualization & Imagery:
Visualization & imagery is an technique which depends on your imagination. You can picture & relive a happy experience. Relive the sounds, touch, emotions & all sensations pertaining to that memory. If not, you can visualize a scenery-beach, mountains, the calm ocean, & experience the sounds of the waves/birds chirping/feeling of the wind on  our face/feel the sand between your toes etc.
Breathing Patterns:
Breathing Deeply increases the oxygen content in the body & induces relaxation on exhalation.
How To- Keeping your shoulders relaxed, take a deep breath in through your nose. On exhaling through your mouth, feel the tension leaving your body.

Labour Positions:
Adopting different positions is helpful in dealing with the contractions. Breathing techniques can be used in these positions. It is advisable to practice these positions from 7-8th month onwards, so that you can decide which positions are comfortable for you. Few of the commonly used positions are shown.

Above shown positions help in reducing low back ache ( No.3-All Fours/No.5-Squatting) during contractions & increases blood supply to the baby. The Squatting position (No. 5) helps the baby to descend and gets the head locked in the birth canal. The baby’s head gets fixed in the right position, which helps during labour. However, make sure you consult an expert before engaging in this exercise.
The breathing patterns used to relax during contractions can be practiced in these positions.
Massage in labour is a very personal thing. It is most important that whoever is giving the massage is sensitive to your changing needs- with regard to location, depth, technique & well supported positioning.
Back pain in early labour is commonly felt in the low back region & can intensify as labour progresses.

Performed usually with you sitting & leaning forwards on your hands. Using the heel of their hand, your partner can gently knead your low back & increase or decrease pressure according to your comfort.

Performed either in side lying or in the sitting position. Slow rhythmical stroking using fingertips from the neck to the tail bone, single or double handed, can relieve tension & induce relaxation. Can be performed over the spine or parallel to it. Pressure can become slightly deeper as the hands descend.
The lower half of the stomach is the most common site of pain. This massage can be done using fingertips of both hands.

Side to Side stroking over the area of pain, will give relief. Perform using fingertips/ palms of both hands.

We hope these tips have been useful to you to prepare for your labour. We would like to hear about your experience.

(Read about Breathing Patterns in How to Breathe during Labour)

Exercise Benefits in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a life altering change in any woman’s life. The 9 months of pregnancy transforms a woman into a mother, changing her forever!

The 1st Trimester (1-3 Months) are of Adjustment to the fact that life is growing inside her. She will go through physical & emotional changes. Hormonal changes, morning sickness, backache, fatigue along with excitement, apprehension & mixed feelings are some of the changes she faces.
The 2nd Trimester (4-6 Months) are of Acceptance. She will have more energy, hormones are more balanced, there will be reduced mood swings, sex will be more appealing & she will feel the baby move too.

The 3rd Trimester (7-9 Months) are of Anticipation. Physical & emotional changes will include discomfort due to enlarged  body, body image issues, feelings of unattractiveness, decreased desire for sex, apprehension about birth along with excitement for the coming baby & concern about loss of freedom.

“What does Exercise have to do with Pregnancy?”
Common problems like Backache, Breathlessness, Constipation, cramps in the leg, Leaking Urine, Stretch marks, Tiredness, Varicose veins can be relieved by exercising.
Some of the advantages of exercising during pregnancy, labour & after delivery are going to be discussed.

Exercising during Pregnancy:
  • Keeps you comfortable

With each passing month & the growth of your baby, your body size & shape changes. This can lead to pains like backache, reduction in muscle strength especially of the chest, stomach & back muscles.

  • Improves Posture: Strengthening exercises for your upper back & stomach; Stretching exercises for your Chest, Shoulder & Low back muscles will help reduce back pain, sagging breasts & loose stomach after delivery.
Before & After Exercise

Fatigued is felt in the 1st Trimester due to morning sickness, hormonal changes & mood swings; also felt in 3rd trimester due to breathlessness.

  • Improves Energy Levels: Breathing Exercises increase oxygen supply to the mother & baby, reducing fatigue, improving moods & emotional stability as encourages relaxation. Also aerobic exercises improve stamina which again improves energy levels & reduces maternal exhaustion by 75%.
  • Improves Breathing

Mood swings are common in pregnancy due to hormonal & physical changes.

  • Improves Emotional Stability: Exercising releases Endorphins (The Happy hormone), which improves mood.

Cramps are common in pregnancy, at all stages. The reason behind this is reduced blood flow.

  • Improves Blood flow: muscles contracting & relaxing during exercise cause increase in blood flow which helps in bringing oxygen to the muscles & at the same time removes waste/ toxins from the muscle, hence reducing cramps.

Some of the discomforts during pregnancy include- Cramps, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (Pelvic Pain), 

  • Decreases Excessive weight gain
  • Maintains lower resting heart rate

Exercising during Labour:

  1. Increases stamina to cope with the long, hard labour
  2. Decreases chances of a C-Section by 75%
  3. Decreases the need of Oxytocin by 50% (Used to induce labour)
  4. Decreases active labour time by 30% 

Exercising after Delivery:

  1. Decreases delivery problems like muscle tears & weakened pelvic muscles
  2. Increases level of endorphins (Pain relieving hormone)
  3. Easier to recover energy levels, strength & pre-pregnancy size
  4. Fewer incidences of Post- Partum depression

Simple exercises taking no less than 20 minutes of your time, will help tremendously in making your pregnancy extra special!
(Read more for pregnancy, labour & post delivery in How to be comfortable in Labour; How to Breathe during Labour & Flat Abs)

NOTE: Please consult your doctor before exercising.