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I am no medical expert so any thing I write here is merely my personal experience with the dreaded plantar fasciitis condition.

It has been the topic of quite a few conversations lately with people I know or attend my yoga classes. Running and walking distances appear to be a common thread.

It’s a horrible condition, there’s lots of information on the web as to the causes, possibly due to ill-fitting shoes and overuse, but there may be other circumstances as well.

My experience with plantar happened some 20 years ago now, I was running quite a bit, it was the time I was running marathons and the training required high weekly mileage. I recall the condition seemed to develop quite quicky, I noticed it when I got out of bed in the morning, specifically in the left heel, and it was like standing on a hot poker, I literally hobbled around for a while until the pain alleviated, I was quite fortunate in that the pain did recede during the day although some aren’t so fortunate.

It lingered for an age, I stopped running, bought new shoes, sort of stretched, took pain killers and eventually went to the doctor. We agreed a cortisone injection was the course of action, although I was not keen on the process, particularly the size of the needle!

I followed the recommended rehab to the letter, and when I gingerly started gentle running again, the condition, for me, remained.

I started to research the weird contraptions on the market that apparently helped. I had a good handle on the cause and knew that in my case the tear of the plantar fascia was probably across the width of the foot, rather than the length, perpendicular to the foot movement. This made sense as when asleep and the body started to repair, scar tissue forming, as soon as I stood and walked, the tissue would tear again…ouch!

I knew there was no quick fix also, no pill, no foot replacement but that I needed to intervene in some way, and this was the start of my yoga journey.

I started to practice daily, particularly sun salutations, downward dog and anything that stretched the calf muscles and the sole of the foot, lengthening the connective tissue.

I can’t quite remember how long it took for the condition to resolve but I do know that the yoga worked. I still do yoga, I still run, a lot, and in the 20 years since, my plantar fasciitis has never returned. The hips, ankles and knees are pretty good as well.

Runners aren’t that good at maintaining a stretching regime and there are still mixed opinions around pre\post stretching and the benefit. It makes sense to me that the inherent flexibility in the fascia, the tissues, the ligaments, and muscles that yoga provides, reduces the risk of tears to aid recovery or as a preventative measure.

In closing, if you are suffering with plantar issues, please take some professional guidance and please be assured that it’s not permanent, it will resolve over time, and you will be able to do those things you may have to put on hold temporarily.

You could try some yoga as well and see if that helps to expedite your recovery.

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Sleep

We sleep for more than one third of our lives, which roughly equates to 165,000,000 breaths, assuming we make to to the grand age 80 years. It is widely accepted that sleep is vital for a healthy and long life, there are plenty of books and podcasts to substantiate how important sleep is for us.

Yet, despite all of this knowledge and information, good regular sleep evades some of us. Modern lifestyles exacerbate the problem with the levels of caffeine we take on board, late nights and the constant simulation of artificial light from the technology we apparently rely on.

If we encourage our body, breath, and mind into a more rested state before we ‘climb the wooden hill to Bedfordshire’ we are more likely to benefit from a better night’s slumber.

There is a great yoga posture that I encourage people to try, before they retire into the evening, Viparita Karani, or ‘legs up the wall.’ It is exactly that.

To get into the position, start by sitting down, side on and against a clear wall, (even better if you can do this from your bed), then swing your legs up the wall as you let shoulders and head come to rest on the floor. Get your backside as close to the base if the wall and join the legs together up the wall, take the arms out to the side and rest here. For added comfort, place a pillow or blanket under your head or lower back.

Now relax all of your muscles, allow the skeletal frame to take the load and simply fall into the floor with gravity, feeling the sense of release.

You can close your eyes and bring your awareness to the sense of grounding through the pelvis, back and shoulders, and the lightness of the legs and feet. Perhaps you can sense a gentle pulse in the feet and legs or an echo of your heartbeat in the ears.

If you find your mind still busy and churning away at the issues of your day, bring your attention entirely to each breath, as it moves in and out, noticing the movements of your tummy and chest. Perhaps count each breath, from one to five and then start again.

Stay in this position for 5 – 10 minutes if you can. You might try to move your legs apart occasionally or join the soles of the feet together and bend the knees slightly, any variation that helps maintain comfort and a sense of release.

When you are finished, very carefully slide to the side and come back down, stay lying on your side for a few moments and as soon as you can, get ready for bed.

It’s a great posture, it is an inversion as the heart is above the brain. The nervous system must slow the heart down and regulate the carotid artery to prevent the rush of blood into the noggin, which calms the mind. It improves circulation by drawing stagnant blood from your legs to the lower torso, I like to think it reverse flushes the venal return valves, but I’m no expert, it can reduce fatigue and swelling in your legs.

This is just one of many techniques in yoga to improve health and wellbeing, sleep well!

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Updated: Oct 14



It has been great returning to the face-to-face yoga classes recently, teaching online has its merits but doesn’t come close to the experience of getting people together in a room.

I am particularly enjoying the classes that have yogis of senior age attending. I can say this as I have also hit the 60 milestone and by virtue of my time in the forces, started to draw a pension. I see this as a badge of honour! Whilst I may not be able to move like I did when I was 30, I can still move, and this is the point, “if we don’t move it, we lose it”.

Many seniors find that their mobility, flexibility, and body strength have certain limitations. This can be due to injuries, the aging process, arthritis, and other health conditions. There is also in some people a fear of falling and concern of the recovery involved in breaking a hip. On the other side of things, many elderly people have more free time and wish to increase their blood circulation, range of motion, and stay in shape. Women are advised by their GPs to exercise to help with bone density. Exercise is also advised for heart health and to maintain blood pressure levels.

Fortunately, there are forms of yoga that help one stay active yet take into account some of the limitations that many people have. Senior yoga classes can include restorative yoga, gentle yoga, and chair sessions. Breathing, relaxation, gentle stretching and body strengthening are part of the classes, in any yoga class, one can modify the movements and do them in accord with one's own circumstance. I would always encourage my class to take time out and hold a comfortable restorative posture at any time they wish, for however long they wish, it’s still yoga.

It is important to not spend the days only in sedentary living but to continue some type of physical activity unless your doctor advises against it. Not only is this important physically, but mentally it is very encouraging and lifting to the spirit to be able to do some physical movements that might have seemed impossible. Senior yoga classes also are a social setting where friendships can be built, and new interactions broadened.

It is up to us to keep moving. I am always pleased to see seniors join the classes. I say to all my yogis, the hardest part about yoga is getting onto the mat….






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