Yoga Tune Up® Yoga Tune Up Blog

Yoga Tune Up® Blog

Un-Wreck Your Rectus Femoris

By: | Friday, October 21st, 2016 | Comments 0

In part one of this blog you learned some common causes of trigger points in rectus femoris, where the trigger points tend to live, and problems they can cause. Today I will teach you how to tame these trigger points and rejuvenate this muscle!
My favorite way to work on these trigger points in RF is to lay prone on the floor and place an ALPHA ball at the front of my thigh. If this massage is too intense you can try using a pair of toted original Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls instead. I usually start at the top of my thigh (avoid the bikini line where there are blood vessels and ligaments that you don’t want to smash, go beneath it!) and do a stripping technique by rolling the ball up and down about an inch or so.

Once I find a tender trigger point I provide compression by resting on that spot. Then I do pin and stretch by slowly flexing and extending my knee. Finally, I use cross friction by flexing my knee, then moving my lower leg in and out like a windshield wiper. It is good to search several areas along your thigh, and notice if your most tender spots are at the common trigger point areas discussed in part one of this blog. If you massage toward the inner and outer thigh you may find trigger points in two of the other quadriceps muscles which can also contribute to knee pain, the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis.

If pain in your knee is an issue for you, you will also want to learn how to treat the hamstrings at the back of the thigh, adductors at the inner thigh, and the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the calf because they can contribute as well. You can search for a certified Yoga Tune Up® instructor for help learning how to treat these muscles. Read the rest of this blog post »

Rectus Femoris and Knee Pain

By: | Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 | Comments 2

Rectus femoris (RF) is one of the four quadriceps muscles located at the front of the thigh. The other three

Is your knee kicking your butt? Roll out your rectus femoris

Is your knee kicking your butt? Roll out your rectus femoris

quadriceps muscles (vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and vastus intermedius) only cross at the knee, but rectus femoris crosses the hip joint as well. It originates at the anterior inferior iliac spine (AIIS) at the front of the pelvis, and inserts at the patellar tendon and tibial plateau (small notch on shin bone below your knee cap). Because this muscle crosses two joints and has two actions (to flex or bend the hip and extend or straighten the knee) it is more prone to trigger points and tightness.

If RF has trigger points, you will notice tightness in your anterior thigh, and possibly some pain in your knee, when putting it in a stretched position by extending your hip behind you and bending your knee. Rectus femoris has two areas where trigger points are common. Contract the muscle by flexing the hip with the knee straight (straight leg raise), then search just more than half way down the thigh. You are likely to find a tender trigger point there. The primary trigger point to look for in RF is near the top of the muscle at front of the thigh, below your hip.

Sports that involve kicking, and also those that use a lot of hip flexion such as cycling and rowing, can cause trigger points to develop in this muscle. I have taken Tae Kwon Do for the past six years, and the two most common kicks we use involve hip flexion and knee extension. So it is no surprise that my rectus femoris needs a little TLC! Read the rest of this blog post »

Tuning Down on Three Legs

On Wednesday, we explored the first part of the sequence I’ve been using to aide in my recovery from bunion surgery. Today, we continue with some tips for hips, hanging out, and sleeping.

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Massage your glutes and free your hips!

Massage your glutes and free your hips!

Recline and place an original Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball between the meatiest part of your buttocks and the floor. Enjoy several deep breaths allowing sustained compression into the muscles. Then, rhythmically, contract and relax your gluteal muscles several times. Remove the ball from the left side and begin to cross fiber the right gluteal muscles by shifting the lower body side to side and rolling the ball between the sacrum and greater trochanter; the “ball” at the top of the leg bone. After several passes, begin to circle the greater trochanter with the ball. Be creative! Move and support your body in any way to experience a yummy massage of the multiple ligaments and tendons in this space. Reverse direction and rest on any blind spots facilitating release. Read the rest of this blog post »

Finding Symmetry on Three Legs

Six weeks, one boot and a crutch equals a loss of symmetry and balance in my body. I was hanging from my pull-up bar this morning, grateful to have the opportunity to let most of my joints literally hang-out for several minutes. Just to recap: As of writing this blog, I am 6 weeks post-op from bunionectomy and hammer-toe repair surgery on my left foot; 6 weeks tottering around in a recovery boot with a single crutch. My body promptly rebelled.

It’s virtually impossible to maintain optimal alignment and posture with a boot and crutch. The boot elevates my left hip when I am barefoot on the right side. It’s difficult to find an appropriate shoe to match its height and be safe in moving about, especially on stairs and uneven surfaces. Distribution and transfer of weight in standing and movement are sorely compromised. So, in addition to adhering to strict medical guidelines to rehab my surgery foot, I am being proactive in caring for my right side-body which is being challenged and moving in peculiar ways.

My imbalance derived from using a crutch on my right side manifests in right lumbar (low back) pain, serious fatigue on my right side coxal (hip) joint, and dull ache in my right sacroiliac (SI) joint. Here is how I currently find symmetry on three legs! Read the rest of this blog post »

Undulate to Unleash Your Spine

On Wednesday, I shared the story of my flattened spine, and how it likely got that way. Today, I’ll discuss the journey I have taken to reclaim its curves and learn more about how I’m put together.

The human spine consists of five parts. There are seven vertebrae in the cervical spine (neck, C1-C7), 12 in the thoracic spine (upper back, T1-T12), five in the lumbar spine (lower back, L1-L5), and five in the sacrum (pelvic, S5, fused), four in the coccyx (tailbone, fused). A healthy human spine when viewed from the side, has a beautiful S-shape curve. The convex forward shape is called the lordotic curve, present in the cervical and lumber spine. The concave forward shape is called a kyphotic curve, present in the thoracic spine.

Over time, the shape of our spines changed according to our primal needs. First, while our ancestors roamed around the ground on their four limbs in search of food, the thoracic spine formed into a concave shape (out) in order to push their bodies away from the ground.

Secondly, the neck had to be picked up to its convex position (in) so they could look for food or spot out a predator, before they could approach. The lumber curve (in) became more necessary as our ancestors started to gain the ability to bear weight on lower extremities – and began walking on two legs. The lumber curve is a human specific feature. (Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews).

The spine was developed over millions of years of human evolution to support the body’s weight and to protect the spinal cord. The curve of the spine can withstand great amounts of stress by providing a more even weight distribution. Also, when we walk or run, our spines undulate to support our movements. Amazingly, almost every human movement is assisted by the movement of our spine. If the spine doesn’t move well, we have to compensate by engaging other parts of the bodies.

I remember looking at my parents’ form and thinking it must be genetic that I have a very flat spine. Or is it cultural? My parents spent their youth during the Second World War in Japan where standing straight or bowing correctly were considered to be proper.

There are things I can do to reclaim my s-shaped spine. One of the Yoga Tune Up®. exercises that helped me a lot was Spinal Undulation. Read the rest of this blog post »

Reclaiming my S-Shaped Spine

By: | Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 | Comments 8
Real spines have curves

Real spines have curves

When I was young, my mother always told my sister and I, “stand up straight,” or “keep your back upright when you are walking!”

Growing up, keeping our backs straight was standard protocol in my household. When I used to walk to school, my mother would always be watching me from her window, so I worked very hard to walk “properly” in order to please her. At the age of 19 I started dancing, and that helped me keep my back even straighter, especially in ballet. In my ballet classes, I learned to squeeze my belly in to lift up my back. With daily stretching and training, I became really flexible. Or I believed I was, only because I was able to kick my leg to my face.

Looking back now, my movement pattern was not well balanced. Luckily, I never hurt myself throughout a decade of dancing nor my musical theater career. I never bothered learning much about my body; I didn’t feel like I had to, because I had no particular issues.

I loved movement. So when I discovered yoga much later in life, I was naturally drawn to the flowing practice of Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Dharma…you name it. This was post 9/11 in New York City when everybody was rushing to yoga classes to attain peace of mind. In these classes, I was able to focus on my breath and just move to the music without any care. Stretching also felt great, so I kept on stretching my body till no end. I would look at the beautiful yoginis in Yoga Journal covers and thought I could be just like them if I kept on practicing. I went to classes everyday in attempt to put myself in seemingly impossible poses.

Eventually, my body started to give – it was hurting all over the place to the point where I was in pain 24/7. I could no longer relax–even in Savasana. I was not able to get up from it without a great deal of effort. I was too ashamed to talk about my pain openly with my peers and believed the cause of my pain was all my fault. I realized I needed to change the course of my practice and began seeking out for alignment base classes. Around 2003, one yoga lineage was very popular. I would go to different teachers in that system and kept on hearing the same cue: “Tuck your tail bone.” I had a lot of pain around my lower back and hips, so I would go up to the teachers and ask how to help my back pain. They would reply, “Make sure to tuck your tailbone.” So I would go home and practice tucking my tail. Read the rest of this blog post »

October-November Upcoming Events

Are you in the US, Canada, UK or the Netherlands? If so, there’s a Yoga Tune Up® or Roll Model® Method training coming your way!

Level 1 Teacher Training

The Roll Model® Method – The Science of Rolling

Read the rest of this blog post »

De-Pesking my Pectineus

By: | Friday, September 30th, 2016 | Comments 0

On Wednesday, we de-mystified the pectineus. Today we continue our adventures in self-discovery with some tune-ups.

Let’s go on a little adventure, and shine a light and enter the frontal plane of your body through the anterior of your thigh. Journey inside there, through superficial fascia, deep fascia, keep going to notice three layers of muscle, most anterior (superior to the adductor longus), is the pectineus adductor of the hip. The little pectineus muscle is shaped like a short comb (hence the Latin root name) flat and quadrangular. Check behind it to see the adductor brevis, then as the floor of the adductors you’ll find the big, broad adductor magnus.

Not to be left out is the gracilis, the 5th adductor. It lies most medially, and is a source of the sometimes super tight & ropey adductor tendon by the pubic bone going into the inner thigh, sit in Baddha Konasana and you can’t miss it! This tendon also provides us with a good landmark to palpate your pectineus muscle. So utilize your kinesthetic awareness and feel that ropey tendon, directly anterior to this is the pectineus! The pectineus is so closely joined with the obturator externus, its antagonist, (a lateral rotator) which also originates at the rami of pubis, inserts (although lower) onto the femur, and they are innervated by the same obturator L3 &4 nerves.

Yoga Tune Up® has created an arsenal of fix-it postures for myself. The asymmetrical standing postures prove to offer helpful relief. I am particularly fond of asymmetrical warrior 2. Your front foot is on a low yoga block, leg in external rotation, and although the hip is in flexion (a pectineus centric move) the added asymmetrical component creates a deep and profound external rotation and opening for the inner thigh, as pectineus collaborates with its closely related obturator externus to stretch. Performing this posture I experience delightfully delicious relief! Try it, yum! Read the rest of this blog post »

My Pesky Pectineus

By: | Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 | Comments 3

I have a story not unlike many of us yoga practitioners and athletes. We all have a story. I survived two very serious auto accidents within two years of each other. Long story—short; beside multiple, head, chest, and knee injuries, I had fractured my spine, breached the left hip socket which leaked synovial fluid out of the joint, resulting in four hip surgeries within three years. Three total hip replacements. The last one was 2 ½ years ago on my right hip. I’m almost 62 years old and complete healing, in my experience (for my standards of joyful yoga function) continues for over 2-3 years.

I underwent an anterior approach hip arthroscopy. There is a 4½ inch incision at the anterior, lateral portion of my pelvis, inferior to my ASIS. With this approach no muscles are cut, but a lot of fascia is! Muscles are separated, then retracted out of the way to expose the joint capsule, allowing space to disarticulate and amputate the head and neck of the femur. A titanium cup and plastic sleeve are positioned into the acetabulum, and a prosthetic head with long post placed within eviscerated femur bone.

Then they send you on your merry way with minimal weight bearing for 8 weeks. As a long time athlete, dancer and yoga practitioner, I commenced my PT exercises with gusto. Immediately I noticed (yes it was disarming and alarming!) I could no longer flex my hip to lift my leg off the floor in a supine position. I also had no ability to abduct & if I manually would get it out there, away from the other leg there was NO way, on God’s little green acre, I could get my legs back together by adducting my thigh. After about 4 months I could lift it (with much effort), and the abductors turned back on. The ability to achieve those movements gave me hope.

I saw my ortho and complained about the adductor issue, he calmly said “oh it’s still asleep”. It felt comatose to me! I was also having a lot of pelvic floor issues. I love using my Yoga Tune Up® therapy ball for pelvic floor release.

Fast forward, my strength improved and I am back to my practice. I feel very blessed to have found Jill Miller and Yoga Tune Up®. I am E-RYT, have 30 years’ experience in teaching and practice, and I couldn’t wait to become a certified YTU teacher, because of the inherent value it holds for everyone, not only yogis. There are nuances in Yoga Tune Up® which make traditional postures deeper, yet more effective, and precise. Targeting areas and tiny muscle groups laying close to the joint that are untouched by many traditional modalities.

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The Ins, Outs, and In Betweens of Your Digestive Tract: How Muscle Imbalances in Your Jaw and Neck Affect Digestion – Part Two: Swallowing

By: | Friday, September 23rd, 2016 | Comments 3

You know the feeling of having your omega-3 capsule stick to the walls of your esophagus and lodge there until you drink more water or eat a piece of breath to shove it down? An object’s progress from mouth to stomach is an intricate dance of body position and muscle function. Now that you have been able to ruminate about chewing (See Part One: Chewing if you missed it), it’s time to move on to swallowing and how our habitual head position changes the reflex.

Remember, the digestive tract is a tube of smooth muscle that travels from the mouth to anus. Movement through most of the canal is achieved through peristalsis, or wave-like contractions of the tube walls. Skeletal muscles assist in areas of the tract where food needs to be propelled, like swallowing in the throat.

The skeletal muscles of swallowing are the geniohyoid, mylohyoid, and stylohyoid, collectively known as the suprahyoids. They form a sling of muscles along the underside of the jaw. They span from the anterior, inner edge of the mandible to the hyoid bone. The hyoid bone is a horseshoe shaped bone that floats between the root of the tongue and cartilage of the voice box. Their roles are to depress the mandible and to elevate the hyoid and tongue for swallowing.

Normal swallowing is a complex voluntary and reflexive process involving the tongue and sequential contraction of these muscles. Swallowing happens in four stages. As we chew our food, our tongue moves it around our mouth so it can be crushed and mixed with saliva. This forms a bolus, or round bundle of food ready for swallowing. In the first phase of swallowing, the tongue pushes the food mash toward the back of our throat. This is followed by the propulsion of the food into the upper pharynx through further contraction of the tongue. In the third stage, the bolus is transported through the pharynx and esophageal sphincter by synchronized muscular contraction of the suprahyoid muscles. Their action pulls the hyoid bone and voice box up and forward to open the entrance to the esophagus.

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