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Posts for: October, 2021

By High Desert Family Medicine
October 29, 2021
Category: Osteopathic Care
Tags: Yoga  
YogaWhen people imagine yoga, they think of deep stretches, meditation, and an amazing tool for wellness and stress relief. Indeed, yoga is an ancient technique that has been proven to be an effective relaxation, mindfulness, and all-around health tool.

The benefits of yoga are extensive and well-documented. In addition, yoga can be easily done with little or no extra tools, making it the perfect exercise for those with limited means or on the go.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. Yoga brings together physical, mental, and spiritual practices.

Yoga involves various methods for mindfulness, including deep breathing, physical poses, relaxation of muscles, stretching, and concentration. Yoga is now widely practiced by many Americans, with a survey showing that one out of every seven people practice yoga! The name yoga literally means "to join," and comes from the word "Yuj" in Sanskrit. 

Physical Benefits

Besides being physical exercise, yoga is a great way to combine the body, mind, and spirit to better increase overall health. Physically, yoga helps people:
  • Build muscle strength
  • Increase flexibility
  • Reduce muscle tension and stress
  • Improve sleep through relaxation
It's estimated that people burn an average of 180 to 460 calories during a single yoga session. This is, of course, based on the type of yoga done, the intensity of the session and length of time, and if the person doing yoga is male or female. Because of the number of calories burned, yoga is a great weight-loss tool when combined with healthy eating habits and other lifestyle changes.

Mindfulness Benefits

Because yoga incorporates mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, it is thought to be beneficial to those undergoing treatment for chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that, after practicing Hatha yoga, people's PHQ-9 scores (measuring depression) dropped 3.7 points.

In addition, deep breathing during yoga has been found to be one of the best ways to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to slow down anxious thinking and stop anxiety in its tracks.

Although yoga shouldn't completely replace other therapies or treatments for mental disorders, it can be a powerful tool to help those struggling with anxiety and depression. By helping people increase mindfulness, people are better able to reduce stress and manage anxious and negative thoughts.

Starting Yoga

Talk to your osteopath about starting a new exercise such as yoga. After you get the OK, there are ample videos online and even free yoga classes to help you increase your overall health.

By High Desert Family Medicine
October 15, 2021
Category: Osteopathic Care
Tags: Muscle Cramps   Stretching  
Muscle CrampsThere are a variety of reasons why people can get muscle cramps. From dehydration to lack of vitamins and minerals, muscle cramps can be painful and even scary. Luckily, most muscle cramps are thought to be due to the overuse of muscles, muscle strains, or holding a position for too long.

Stretching can help tackle these common causes of muscle cramps and help people find relief from cramps. In addition, stretching can help prevent future muscle cramps from forming and strengthen your body overall.

How Can Stretching Help my Muscle Cramps?

Stretching your muscles helps cramps by massaging out the affected muscle and allowing it to relax again. Cramps are caused by muscles not being able to relax, causing a contraction that is uncontrollable. Stretching, using a warm compress, and making sure to stay hydrated can all help alleviate even the most painful muscle cramps.

Proper Stretching Techniques

No matter the muscle you stretch, it's important to never over-extend muscles through stretching. This can cause increased injury and can even lead to muscle sprains and strains. Instead, when stretching your muscles, start off slow and warm up your muscles by walking or doing gentle movements. For the arms, arm circles are a good start. For the legs, doing gentle running in place or walking can help.
Every muscle can benefit from different stretches. For instance, intense back cramps can benefit from the child's pose in yoga, which involves kneeling on the ground and placing your front torso forward with outstretched arms. Alternatively, you can try knees to chest stretch, or a lumbar rotation stretch.
More common muscle cramps that involve the calf can be treated with gentle stretching by pulling the toes toward the body while keeping the knees as straight as possible. 

How Long Do I Stretch For?

Whatever stretch you choose to do, it's important to remember to hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds. It takes time for the muscle to fully benefit from the stretch. However, if you find yourself in extreme pain, do not continue with the stretch. Instead, go back to the least painful position and hold the stretch from there.

Other Benefits of Stretching

Besides being good for muscle cramps, stretching can also help people with:
  • Stress relief
  • Improve their posture
  • Improve blood flow to the muscles
  • Improve flexibility
  • Help range of motion
Stretching can help you feel immediate relief from cramps and are a great alternative to muscle relaxers and other pain medication. However, if you feel stretching doesn't help your cramps, or your cramps continue, speak to your osteopath today.