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Complementary Fitness 29 January newsletter

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Welcome to this week’s newsletter & updates:

Thanks to SB (Thurs class) who sent me a link to a recent article in The Telegraph about the benefits of yoga as we age.

The article is about Barbara, a yoga teacher who only gave up teaching yoga just short of her 82nd birthday because she and her husband wanted to travel more while still fit and active.

Barbara’s 55th year old daughter also regularly practices yoga and finds it helpful while going through the menopause.  She also finds that pigeon pose helped with a bout of sciatica and mountain pose on tip toes (standing tall, arms by sides) helped with plantar fasciitis (extreme foot pain).

Back to the story: Barbara lived in Glasgow and when her 2 kids were young, she was stiff, tired and stressed and she went along to a yoga class and loved it so much that she decided to become a yoga teacher in 1971 and has been teaching for over 50 years.

(about 35 years fitness/Pilates/yoga teaching for me so loads of time yet!)

A yoga sports scientist says: “one of the benefits (of yoga) is the benefits on the spine.  If you’re as old as your spine and your spine is completely flexible at 60, then you’re young”.


Barbara agrees and says “think about everything the spine does for us – it allows us to stand, sit, bend, pick up things and live our life smoothly.  And that has an effect on our physical and mental health so if we do become more sedentary, it’s not surprising that other health issues creep in.  And of course, a flexible spine brings a more youthful appearance”.


The article says that for midlifers who want to feel better, tackle aches and pains, stay flexible and toned with improved mental health and cognition, yoga is a marvellous panacea.


I always say that it’s important to go at your own pace, that it’s not a competition, do what’s right for you, improvise, adjust, adapt and listen to your own body.

Also, some days we feel ‘on top of the world’, feel great and have loads of energy (especially if we’ve slept well and not stressed) and other days … we may not feel that way so it’s important to recognise that if we don’t, we can still exercise to feel the physical and mental health benefits but be kind to ourselves.

There’s no pressure.

Like each class, each day is different.

Exercise, Yoga and Pilates classes can

  • Help to relieve stress and promote wellbeing
  • help with cognition and brain health
  • help with heart health and lung capacity
  • help us look and feel better
  • help to reverse the aging process

and more.


You can read the article for yourself at  The Telegraph


The foot and ankle and some corrective exercises for foot and ankle pain and help sufferers feel and function better.

(This is taken from an article in FitPro and just for info/interest.  However, apologies if too much about bones, anatomy etc but then again, you can always look up foot and ankle anatomy online to get a clearer idea):

The feet and ankles are key parts of the body that act as shock absorbers when we interact with a contact surface such as the ground.  They also help the body adapt to varied surfaces.  Understanding the anatomy of these important body parts helps to know how to assess them for problematic imbalances.

The ankle can be divided into 2 parts: the true ankle joint and the subtalar joint.  The true ankle joint is immediately below the shin bones and is responsible for up and down movement of the foot.  The subtalar joint is located below the true ankle joint, between the talus bone and the heel bone.  This joint helps transfer weight from side to side.

The foot consists of 3 parts: the hindfoot, the midfoot and the forefoot.

The hindfoot (talus and heel bone) acts to absorb shock and displace it forward and from side to side.

The midfoot (small bones in the foot between the heel and the toes) helps continue dissipating force, while the forefoot (toes) adapts further to the terrain and aids propulsion during gait.


Common imbalances that cause foot and ankle pain:

The most common imbalances found in the feet and ankles that can cause pain are:

  1. Overpronation
  2. Lack of dorsiflexion


Pronation is a necessary function of the foot.  It is needed to help transfer weight forwards and towards the midline of the body.

Overpronation is when the foot collapses too much.  This can affect the correct function of the feet, ankles and rest of the body.

Dorsiflexion happens when the foot moves towards the shin and vice versa.  The ability to dorsiflex can be impacted as a result of overpronation.  Overpronation causes the foot, ankle (and knee) to roll inward too much, which limits the ability of the shin to travel forwards over the foot (ie dorsiflex).  Limited dorsiflexion impairs all weight-bearing activities, from standing to squatting to walking and running.


The relationship between feet, ankles and knees:

While in a neutral foot and ankle position, look at knees.  The centre of the kneecap will now likely be in line with the second toe (its anatomical neutral position).  When we relaxe from neutral, observe the movement of the knees as they fall back into their more comfortable (likely overpronated) foot position.  Notice how the knees rotate inward with the foot, ankle and shins.  This rotation can lead to problems in the feet and ankles as well as knees.


Corrective exercises for the foot and ankle:

Squats, lunges, running and walking all involve motion of the foot and ankle.  Musculoskeletal imbalances in these areas, such as overpronation and a lack of dorsiflexion, can lead to foot, ankle and leg problems like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, bunions and shin splints.  Here are 2 exercises to try to help correct these structural deviations:


  • Try golf/tennis ball roll

Overpronation leads to wear and tear of the plantar fascia and degeneration of structures on the underside of the foot.  The Golf Ball Roll is a myofascial massage technique which can help regenerate the tissue on the underside of the feet.

Roll a golf ball daily on the underside of each foot for 30 seconds to one minute on the sore spots you find at least once a day.


  • Try ‘big toe pushdowns’

When people overpronate, the arch of their foot becomes weak.  The Big Toe Pushdown exercise helps strengthen the arch so that it can help support the foot correctly.

Find a neutral foot and ankle position and maintain this position as you push the big toe down without collapsing the arch of the foot.  As you get stronger, you’ll feel the muscles of the arch contract under the foot.  You can activate this muscle in all weight-bearing exercises to prevent overpronation.

Assessment and corrective exercises for foot and ankle pain can help us feel better and function more effectively.

Reminder to send me any info, articles, local or other news etc that you come across that we can share with each other, thanks.

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