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Glenn - breathing, stretching, angle of dorsiflexion, hamstrings

Posted by Julie on 9/04/01 at 03:22 (058984)

Hi Glenn

I posted this message at the end of the long thread on the ESWT board, then realized it was buried so deep that you might not see it (I don't know if you read the 'View All Messages' board first thing) so I figured it was better to start a new thread and here it is again:

You asked about the breathing in the yogic foot exercises. It's a good question. They will be effective on the physical level - joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons - if you do them without breath-movement co-ordination: it makes no difference there. The co-ordination of movement with breath involves and influences the mind. It focuses the attention, encouraging what we call 'one-pointedness', so that the effects are deeper. The movements become slower, which enhances relaxation and awareness, so you may find them calming and energizing. Overall (when you work on all the joints, not just the feet) they have effects on the metabolism, and on all the organs and systems, because they speed the removal of toxins.

I was thinking about you last night while teaching. I was observing my class of 16 students on the floor, on their backs, practising their leg stretches. The student with the best angle of dorsiflexion was a woman who has had plantar fasciitis - the only one in the group who has had it. She had told me about her heel pain about six months ago, knowing that I'd know about it (everyone I've taught over the past year knows about PF now) and I gave her some guidance and referred her to my podiatrist. She taped, wore Birks all the time including in class, did everything she was supposed to do, and is now better. But I was surprised to see so healthy an angle in someone who has had PF so recently, and assumed that she had been doing a lot of targetted wall stretching as recommended by Ron the pod. After the class I told her that I'd noticed how good her angle was and asked her what she had been doing. She said she had been doing our toe and ankle exercises every day (along with the other exercises for the joints) and that was all.

I was tickled to read in one of your posts to Carmen yesterday about the effect of plantarflexing the feet when you stretch the hamstrings. This was a fairly recent discovery of mine, too. Dorsiflexing the ankle is of course what brings the calf muscle/achilles complex into play, so when you straighten the leg you're stretching them as well as the hamstrings. When the foot is plantarflexed (better still, held in neutral so that the achilles/calves don't tighten) they are taken out of the picture, the stretch is concentrated in the hamstrings, and is more effective. I've realized that it really is better to isolate these two muscle groups and stretch them individually, so it was very interesting to read about the effect that changing your stretch has had on the soles of your feet. The isolated stretch is always more controllable, but it could also be - I'm guessing - that in not stretching along the entire length of the sciatic nerve, you may be avoiding that burning/tingling in the feet. Any thoughts on this?

All the best

Julie

Re: Dr Z, Julie,Glen

john h on 9/04/01 at 09:28 (058995)

Julie & Glenn: for many years I would put my leg up on a rail and straigten it out and reach down and pull mildly on all toes. This is a common stretch for runners. Stretches the hams,achilles,and calf muscles. With my PF i discontiued ths some years ago as standing on one foot hurt. Well, i am back to doing that again and have almost regained the stretch prior to PF. I can straighten the leg out and easily reach down and pull gentlely on the front of the foot for the desired stretch. This may not be in Julie's book of good stretches. Sort of thinking about climbing this small mountain this week. You can walk up it and it is about a 45 minute climb. Any thoughts on doing this?

Re: John's mountain and stretch

Julie on 9/04/01 at 10:36 (059001)

I'd say definitely go for the mountain, John. Definitely. Just leave plenty of time for coming down. If you have any discomfort, it may be more difficult than going up - you may want to stop and rest.

When you're doing that stretch, take care keep your pelvis centred and stable. If you have to pull it out of alignment to place your foot on the rail, you'll be compromising your lower back (twisting and/or arching it). You wouldn't want to exchange PF for back trouble.

Bringing the leg perpendicular to the spine is something lots of people haven't the length in the hamstrings and calves to do: it's only too easy to compensate for that by putting the lower back in a vulnerable position. The leg doesn't have to be at the perpendicular in order to get aneffective hamstring stretch.

A good way to work toward this stretch, which you might like to try, is with stairs. Facing the stairs, place your heel on a step you can reach comfortably: probably the second to begin with. Draw the toes back (dorsiflex the ankle). Hold for 15 seconds or so. If you don't feel a stretch (if your hamstrings are loose you won't) hinge forward from the hips, slowly, keeping your pelvis centred and stable and your back long (lead with your chest and don't round your upper back).

The forward bend pulls on the hamstrings (which connect the knees and the lower back) so you should now feel a good, gradually increasing stretch. Stop before it hurts: it's easy to pull muscles that haven't been used in this way for some time. Hold your optimum position until it feels comfortable: breathe steadily, don't hold your breath, and don't bounce. Then see if you can take the stretch a little further by increasing the forward bend.

If you can do this with comfort and ease on the second step, move onto the third after a few days, and so on, working in the same way, and always watching the pelvis. I don't know how tall you (or your stairs!) are.

Work on both legs at each stage.

Re: Dr Z, Julie,Glen

Glenn X on 9/04/01 at 21:14 (059048)

John: That's way beyond my capabilities. My only thought is, if you can do it pain free, and it feels right, it's probably OK.

As an aside, most people I see doing stretches at the gym, from all appearances, do them just for seconds, and just until the pain becomes unbearable. More of a lick and a promise.

Re: John's mountain and stretch

wendyn on 9/04/01 at 21:19 (059050)

If I was in your shoes...(and I am)...I would climb the mountain....(and I did). True, there's always a risk involved - but you weigh it with what you think you're ready for and how badly you want (need) to go.

I highly recommened a cane or walking stick, I sure wish I'd had one. I also should have stretched more and after the hike. Ice afterwards even you feel good. Bring a cell phone and a hiking partner just in case. I loved my hike this summer, and I've never regretted it.

Re: climb every mountain

nancy s. on 9/04/01 at 21:36 (059052)

if you're considering it, john, i think that means you're ready to try it, you being sensible on top of humorous and helpful.
have a wonderful time, buddy! and tell us all about it.
nancy

Re: John's mountain and stretch

Julie on 9/05/01 at 00:56 (059061)

Good advice Wendy. The walking stick will be really helpful, especially on the way down. And yes, stretch before and after. When is is to be? This weekend?

Re: Glenn

Julie on 9/05/01 at 01:22 (059063)

Interesting observation, Glenn (about the lick and the promise). Many people don't know how to stretch correctly, and don't know what their limitations are (we all have them) or how to respect them. For example, God has given us ligaments to protect our joints from injury and dislocation. Ligaments allow movement within a certain range, which varies with the individual, and they will stop a movement when it seems to be pushing beyond that safe range. Muscles are able to stretch, usually a good deal further than most of us think they can, but they don't appreciate being forced. Also they need to be warmed beforehand in order to stretch safely, so stretching needs to be approached gradually and built up carefully in order to avoid tearing muscle fibres(which results in shortening - counterproductive when your aim is to lengthen). But people often overshoot the mark, go for the goal through over-enthusiasm, over-competitiveness (with themselves) or simply through lack of understanding of how their bodies work, and of how important it is to maintain its alignment. So they quickly lurch into pain, and stop.

Working mindfully, not perfunctorily, with respect for the body and with some understanding of how things work (as for instance you are doing) towards a specific goal, one gets further faster, and enjoys the journey too.

Re: John's mountain and stretch

john h on 9/05/01 at 17:57 (059141)

maybe this weekend or tomorrow. john's friends do not climb mountains. they seem to climb on bar stools. my partner shall be my cell phone. if sissy judy can climb a mountain then i will crawl up the devil if i have to.

Re: John's mountain and stretch

wendyn on 9/05/01 at 22:18 (059177)

John - do you have bears in your mountains? If so, I should not think that you should hike alone. In most parts of our mountains - our cell phones don't work. We have bears. I would not hike alone with, or without a cell phone that's working. Bear's and cougars don't wait for you to make a last phone call.

Re: John's mountain and stretch

john h on 9/06/01 at 09:09 (059208)

we do have bears, even in the city limits but they are black bears and have never bothered anyone. there are lots of snakes on the mountain which would give me lots more concern than bears. there is a park area at the base of the mountain so there are generally people around. none of those mean old bears like in your area. i saw all the bears i care to in Churchill and those Polar Bears look upon us as just more food.

Re: climb every mountain

john h on 9/06/01 at 09:12 (059209)

nancy s: glad you remember the music. i fear my mountail does not have julie andrews on it dancing and singing. more like copperheads and rattlers.

Re: John's mountain and stretch

JudyS on 9/06/01 at 14:08 (059242)

OK John h, I'll take the bait.....who you callin' sissy, sissy? :)

Re: John's mountain and stretch

john h on 9/06/01 at 19:10 (059289)

wendy if i had seen a bear or cougar with some water their would have been a serious fight over that water. i am still thirsty and have just finished my 4th glass of cherry juice.

Re: Dr Z, Julie,Glen

john h on 9/04/01 at 09:28 (058995)

Julie & Glenn: for many years I would put my leg up on a rail and straigten it out and reach down and pull mildly on all toes. This is a common stretch for runners. Stretches the hams,achilles,and calf muscles. With my PF i discontiued ths some years ago as standing on one foot hurt. Well, i am back to doing that again and have almost regained the stretch prior to PF. I can straighten the leg out and easily reach down and pull gentlely on the front of the foot for the desired stretch. This may not be in Julie's book of good stretches. Sort of thinking about climbing this small mountain this week. You can walk up it and it is about a 45 minute climb. Any thoughts on doing this?

Re: John's mountain and stretch

Julie on 9/04/01 at 10:36 (059001)

I'd say definitely go for the mountain, John. Definitely. Just leave plenty of time for coming down. If you have any discomfort, it may be more difficult than going up - you may want to stop and rest.

When you're doing that stretch, take care keep your pelvis centred and stable. If you have to pull it out of alignment to place your foot on the rail, you'll be compromising your lower back (twisting and/or arching it). You wouldn't want to exchange PF for back trouble.

Bringing the leg perpendicular to the spine is something lots of people haven't the length in the hamstrings and calves to do: it's only too easy to compensate for that by putting the lower back in a vulnerable position. The leg doesn't have to be at the perpendicular in order to get aneffective hamstring stretch.

A good way to work toward this stretch, which you might like to try, is with stairs. Facing the stairs, place your heel on a step you can reach comfortably: probably the second to begin with. Draw the toes back (dorsiflex the ankle). Hold for 15 seconds or so. If you don't feel a stretch (if your hamstrings are loose you won't) hinge forward from the hips, slowly, keeping your pelvis centred and stable and your back long (lead with your chest and don't round your upper back).

The forward bend pulls on the hamstrings (which connect the knees and the lower back) so you should now feel a good, gradually increasing stretch. Stop before it hurts: it's easy to pull muscles that haven't been used in this way for some time. Hold your optimum position until it feels comfortable: breathe steadily, don't hold your breath, and don't bounce. Then see if you can take the stretch a little further by increasing the forward bend.

If you can do this with comfort and ease on the second step, move onto the third after a few days, and so on, working in the same way, and always watching the pelvis. I don't know how tall you (or your stairs!) are.

Work on both legs at each stage.

Re: Dr Z, Julie,Glen

Glenn X on 9/04/01 at 21:14 (059048)

John: That's way beyond my capabilities. My only thought is, if you can do it pain free, and it feels right, it's probably OK.

As an aside, most people I see doing stretches at the gym, from all appearances, do them just for seconds, and just until the pain becomes unbearable. More of a lick and a promise.

Re: John's mountain and stretch

wendyn on 9/04/01 at 21:19 (059050)

If I was in your shoes...(and I am)...I would climb the mountain....(and I did). True, there's always a risk involved - but you weigh it with what you think you're ready for and how badly you want (need) to go.

I highly recommened a cane or walking stick, I sure wish I'd had one. I also should have stretched more and after the hike. Ice afterwards even you feel good. Bring a cell phone and a hiking partner just in case. I loved my hike this summer, and I've never regretted it.

Re: climb every mountain

nancy s. on 9/04/01 at 21:36 (059052)

if you're considering it, john, i think that means you're ready to try it, you being sensible on top of humorous and helpful.
have a wonderful time, buddy! and tell us all about it.
nancy

Re: John's mountain and stretch

Julie on 9/05/01 at 00:56 (059061)

Good advice Wendy. The walking stick will be really helpful, especially on the way down. And yes, stretch before and after. When is is to be? This weekend?

Re: Glenn

Julie on 9/05/01 at 01:22 (059063)

Interesting observation, Glenn (about the lick and the promise). Many people don't know how to stretch correctly, and don't know what their limitations are (we all have them) or how to respect them. For example, God has given us ligaments to protect our joints from injury and dislocation. Ligaments allow movement within a certain range, which varies with the individual, and they will stop a movement when it seems to be pushing beyond that safe range. Muscles are able to stretch, usually a good deal further than most of us think they can, but they don't appreciate being forced. Also they need to be warmed beforehand in order to stretch safely, so stretching needs to be approached gradually and built up carefully in order to avoid tearing muscle fibres(which results in shortening - counterproductive when your aim is to lengthen). But people often overshoot the mark, go for the goal through over-enthusiasm, over-competitiveness (with themselves) or simply through lack of understanding of how their bodies work, and of how important it is to maintain its alignment. So they quickly lurch into pain, and stop.

Working mindfully, not perfunctorily, with respect for the body and with some understanding of how things work (as for instance you are doing) towards a specific goal, one gets further faster, and enjoys the journey too.

Re: John's mountain and stretch

john h on 9/05/01 at 17:57 (059141)

maybe this weekend or tomorrow. john's friends do not climb mountains. they seem to climb on bar stools. my partner shall be my cell phone. if sissy judy can climb a mountain then i will crawl up the devil if i have to.

Re: John's mountain and stretch

wendyn on 9/05/01 at 22:18 (059177)

John - do you have bears in your mountains? If so, I should not think that you should hike alone. In most parts of our mountains - our cell phones don't work. We have bears. I would not hike alone with, or without a cell phone that's working. Bear's and cougars don't wait for you to make a last phone call.

Re: John's mountain and stretch

john h on 9/06/01 at 09:09 (059208)

we do have bears, even in the city limits but they are black bears and have never bothered anyone. there are lots of snakes on the mountain which would give me lots more concern than bears. there is a park area at the base of the mountain so there are generally people around. none of those mean old bears like in your area. i saw all the bears i care to in Churchill and those Polar Bears look upon us as just more food.

Re: climb every mountain

john h on 9/06/01 at 09:12 (059209)

nancy s: glad you remember the music. i fear my mountail does not have julie andrews on it dancing and singing. more like copperheads and rattlers.

Re: John's mountain and stretch

JudyS on 9/06/01 at 14:08 (059242)

OK John h, I'll take the bait.....who you callin' sissy, sissy? :)

Re: John's mountain and stretch

john h on 9/06/01 at 19:10 (059289)

wendy if i had seen a bear or cougar with some water their would have been a serious fight over that water. i am still thirsty and have just finished my 4th glass of cherry juice.