UFIT

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga – Alana Saphin-Polchleb

I have been practicing yoga for over 12 years and have slowly transitioned from a practice focused on dynamic, sweat inducing yoga to being able to understand and appreciate the benefits of slowing down the practice and the mind. When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child in August last year, the benefits of this transition really came to fruition as prenatal yoga became more than just a “yoga class”, but also a place for relaxation, mindfulness and birth preparation. 

There are many benefits of practicing yoga while you are pregnant, here are just 5; 

1. Yoga develops strength, flexibility and stamina

Pregnancy and labour is most certainly a marathon not a sprint and as your baby grows inside your belly more energy and strength is required to help carry the extra weight. Yoga helps you strengthen your hips, back, arms and shoulders. A woman who is in the best possible shape for the challenge of labour and beyond, both mentally and physically, will also most likely recover faster after the bub has arrived. 


2. Promotes emotional well being, relaxation and stress management

Through deep breathing the nervous system goes into parasympathetic mode, which promotes relaxation. Learning how to control your breath during yoga can be challenging however; this awareness and control is not only an effective tool during pregnancy to help calm and reduce anxiety, it is also a technique to help with pain management, allowing you to focus and relax during labour. 

3. Important birth muscles are toned

Prenatal yoga encourages deep toning of the pelvic floor, hip and transverse abdominal muscles.  Building and maintaining this muscle tone through out your pregnancy can not only alleviate muscle aches and pains throughout the 9 months but also facilitate a speedy postnatal recovery. 

4. Connection with your Bubba

A prenatal yoga practice at least once a week allows you to take some time out of your busy schedule to bond with your growing baby. Slowing down, breathing deeply and connecting with your baby as your pregnancy progresses allows you to focus on how your body responds differently to the changes that are happening week to week. 

5. Relief from common pregnancy complaints

A regular prenatal yoga practice can help to reduce or alleviate common pregnancy complaints such as easing heartburn, fluid retention and muscle cramps to name a few. By stretching and toning your muscles you can also help blood circulate through the body in a healthy way as well as alleviate back, neck and hip pain which is often caused by the increasing stress from the growing weight of the baby. 

You certainly don’t have to have been practicing yoga for 12 years to gain these benefits. If you have some experience in practicing yoga prior to your pregnancy, with your drs consent, you can commence prenatal practice. If you’ve had little to no yoga experience that’s also fine; following the all clear from your dr at 12 weeks. 

 

Runners: Your Missing Ingredient To Success!

Most runners run because they love running. They love getting out on the road or the track, they love the time to reset, to reflect, and they love the feeling of achievement after every run – from a competitive race to a slow jog around the park! But what if I told you that there was a way to make your running smoother and faster, to avoid running injuries,  and therefore to get more enjoyment out of it!

Running is essentially a series of one legged hops in a row. In order to improve this, you need to develop the strength and the stability of the movement. The best way to do this is to Squat.

Air Squats

Air Squats

Back Squats

Back Squats

There really is not a better exercise to focus on your core, hips, glutes, and leg strength. Any runner who does not squat is missing out on all the benefits this exercise brings in terms of strength and stability. It can also help to erase any muscle imbalances you have, where one side of your body is doing all the work! Start off just doing body weight squats, ensuring your knees are in line with your toes, and do not extend over your toes. If you can manage this, add a small weight like a medicine ball. Aim for a high volume of reps in order to mimic more closely the requirements of running! You will very soon start feeling the benefit in your muscles, and see the benefits in your running times!

Once you have mastered the squat you can progress to exercises on a single leg.

If you are unsure if you are doing it correctly, or if the squatting movement causes you pain, speak to a good sports trainer or physiotherapist about assessing the movement before you add weigh to it!

See your UFIT Clinic Physiotherapist to get you back to full health today!

Glutes: The Running Engine

Most runners run because they love running. They love getting out on the road or the track, they love the time to reset, to reflect, and they love the feeling of achievement after every run – from a competitive race to a slow jog around the park! But what if I told you that there was a way to make your running smoother and faster, to avoid running injuries, and therefore to get more enjoyment out of it? It’s simple: develop strength and power in your glutes! It’s free, it’s easy, and it will make a big long term difference to your health and happiness!

Running is essentially a series of one legged hops in a row. If your knee is not stable in this movement, you can cause injuries and also waste energy – very important over a long run! In order to improve this, you need to develop the strength and the stability of the movement by focusing on developing power in your glutes! See below for two exercises to introduce into your running program. Do these to become a stronger, faster runner today, and avoid injuries in your future!  

Hip Abduction:

  1. Lie on your side, with your foot in line with your hips, and both hips on top of each other.
  2. Slowly raise and lower your top leg up and down (see Photo 1), ensuring that you feel your glute muscle is activated.
  3. Repeat 20 times on on each leg, for 3 sets.

Single Leg Glute Bridge:

  1. Lie on your back with knees together, and one leg extended off the ground.
  2. Raise your bum up off the ground until there is a straight line from your knee to your hip to your shoulder. (See Photo 2).
  3. Repeat ten times on each leg, twice.

If you are unsure if you are doing it correctly, or if the movement causes you pain, speak to a good sports trainer or physiotherapist about assessing the movement! However, if you can add this in before every run you do, you will quickly find yourself running smoother, and avoiding any niggly injuries which might have been in your path!  
 

About UFIT Clinic

We are a collection of professionals from a range of different disciplines, working together to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to the treatment of our clients. 

Whilst all being experts in our own fields, we are humble enough to listen and learn, and work with each other to provide the best care for our patients. Staff professional development and further education is one of our guiding principals, and one which we are deeply committed to. Our services include; PhysiotherapyStructural IntegrationMassage TherapyMeditationPerformance PsychologyNutrition and Podiatry & Foot Care.

See your UFIT Clinic Physiotherapist to get you back to full health today!

Meditation Old School - New Cool…But what is it really? | UFIT Meditation Teacher

 While most of the thousands of meditation practices and meditative science are derived from very ancient traditions, the art of meditation has enjoyed somewhat of a revival in recent years.

Wall Street, Fortune 500 and ASX 200 chief executives, along with popular celebrities and big hitters in the scientific community are "coming out" as avid meditators. The annual ‘Mindfulness Summit’ is supported and attended by top end CEO’s and political leaders.

Times Magazine recently featured a cover story on “The Mindfulness Revolution”, an account of the extent to which mindfulness meditation has re-entered modern life and the National Institutes of Health in the US predicts that by 2017 there may be more than 27 million American adults with a recent meditation experience.

ufit-meditation

Yet despite all the wonderful buzz, renewed interest and excellent research available there are still some firmly held misconceptions about what meditation and mindfulness actually are.

I find it useful when I start my courses or workshops to explain what meditation is not first. Once the preconceived ideas and misconceptions have been dispelled, then the student is in a much better position to explore meditation fully.

So here are the top misconceptions that I come across regularly:

Meditation is not a woo woo hippy activity for the few.

Meditation and mindfulness practices are used extensively in the medical and psychological arena for treatment of chronic pain, anxiety, depression and addiction. More recently and more widely it is also used in trauma and cardiac wards with amazing regenerative results, and therapeutically in palliative care and nursing homes.

Meditation has been a critical enabler in underprivileged schools around the world. It is a common practice in law enforcement in some progressive countries like Canada and is a key element of training in the professional sports arena. Canadian Police meditating before they start their shifts.

There is a plethora of empirical evidence, studies and research now that had followed and measured the different applications of meditation and the affects regular practice yields.

Meditation is not a religion… although most spiritual frameworks involve some form of meditation as part of the process of prayer, ritual or ceremony. The changes in brain activity and activation of the enteric nervous system enable feelings of deep connection, slipping out of time, acute awareness and bliss, which many people equate to a spiritual experience. 

Meditation is not about denying you body. Your body is integral to the process, however certain meditation techniques allow you to temporarily lose your association with the body in deep states.

Meditation is not clearing the mind of all thought… if you try this you soon realise that you’re on a hiding to nothing. The mind is thought. What it is about is drawing-in the dissipated mind and calm the mind/body system. It is not simply about relaxation. In fact the hallmark of meditation is that you are acutely alert, monitoring and observing your inner environment throughout your practice.

So what is meditation…really?

When posture, breath and mental point of focus are combine effectively brainwave activity and the central nervous system become coherent and synchronised. This alters the state of consciousness to that of a witness of your internal environment – the still steady observer behind the breath and the body and the feelings. When we dwell in this state often some amazing things start to happen in our mind/body systems…we regenerate physically, we have a greater sense of wellbeing, greater empathy and connectedness.

The physical changes that start to take place with regular practice, interestingly all combine to enable deeper and deeper meditation. It’s a natural virtuous cycle, that is, the more you meditate the more your system becomes enabled to meditate.

Meditation is the technique through which mindfulness is nurtured and sustained.

So what is mindfulness then?

Mindfulness is the ability to experience day-to-day life from this viewpoint of the witness. It implies “an attitude of curiosity, openness and acceptance of, rather than reactivity to, whatever is happening. Non-reactivity doesn’t mean not responding, it just means that we don’t feel so compelled to react especially without choice and discernment.” (Meditation Association of Australia)

There are thousands of meditation practices from all around the world and many different traditions, and they generally fall into one of five categories.

  •  Concentration Meditation
  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Reflective Meditation
  • Creative Meditation
  • Heart-Centered Meditation

All of them require presence, attention and intention and at the outset when you are learning you always start with building your ability to concentrate the mind and bring it into presence. This is key and it is absolutely possible to strengthen the power of your mind to be present and to concentrate, by regularly doing it, just like exercising the body!

About UFIT Clinic

We are a collection of professionals from a range of different disciplines, working together to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to the treatment of our clients. 

Whilst all being experts in our own fields, we are humble enough to listen and learn, and work with each other to provide the best care for our patients. Staff professional development and further education is one of our guiding principals, and one which we are deeply committed to. Our services include; Physiotherapy, Structural Integration, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Performance Psychology, Nutrition and Podiatry & Foot Care.

About the Author

Dani Van De Velde | Meditation Teacher, UFIT Clinic
Book an appointment with Dani Van De Velde at the Singapore UFIT Clinic to learn how The Meditation Teacher can work with you individually or your company.

Runners: Your Hips Don't Lie!

Are you a regular runner finding yourself with tedious pains after your runs?

Running, is known for high impact and stress it puts on your bones, muscles and connective tissue around the hip when taking part in this repetitive. It doesn’t matter what age you are, hip pain can occur in all runners. While it may start off mild, hip pain can become much more severe as time goes on if it is not treated properly. Therefore, it is important to take the proper precautions, reduce your training if you're experiencing running-related hip pain.

At the UFIT Clinic, one of the biggest groups of patients we see for injuries are competitive and social runners. Runners, more than most, have a single-minded devotion to their sport – heading out in rain or shine here in Singapore. Unfortunately, this devotion often leads to them “running through the pain” when they feel a niggle in their knees, or ankles. Eventually, this kind of attitude will lead to you ending up in physiotherapy with one of our therapists – and while we’re always happy to see you at the UFIT Clinic, we think you would probably prefer to be still out there jogging!

ufit-clinic-running-physiotherapy

 

So how do you avoid this fate? It all starts with your hips!

When you think about it, running is really just a series of single leg hops, over and over again. If you do not have sufficient strength and stability in your pelvis and hips, this is going to make this single leg hop action unsteady and not very powerful. If this is the case, it will make you both less efficient as a runner, and also more likely to injure yourself – bad news for any runner, social or competitive!

Why?

First, let’s discuss performance: running is about moving from point A to Point B in a straight line, as quickly as possible. Any deviation from this straight line in your body is a waste of energy – you are bleeding power. If your hip and pelvis aren’t stable, this leads to a ‘rolling gait’, and your knees pointing inwards instead of straight ahead – a loss of straight line power. Over the course of a long run, these incremental losses will add up to quite a big waste of your stored energy levels, leaving you with a less impressive run-time than anticipated.

The second issue is injuries. Without hip and pelvic stability, your knees and ankles will roll inwards with every step. Eventually, this will lead to overuse stress on the cartilage on one side of the knee, or your patellar tendon, resulting in a painful chronic injury, making running painful, leading to many physiotherapy appointments, and potentially leading to surgery.  

So how do I know if I have pelvic instability?

You can test yourself very simply.

1.     Single Leg Hop Test: One easy way is to hop up and down in front of a mirror, watching your knee. Does your knee stay in line with your toes, or rotate inwards? Does your upper body stay straight and stable?

2.     Wobble Lunge Test: If you have access to a wobble board, place it out in front of you about three feet away. Then, with a dowel across your shoulders (a broomstick will do), lunge forward, placing your lead foot on the wobble board. Again, are you able to keep your knees in line with your toes? Can you keep a strong, stable body position, or do you collapse to one side?

If your answer to either of these questions is ‘No’– I suggest you talk to a good personal trainer at UFIT, or a physiotherapist at the UFIT Clinic, before you commit to a regular running schedule. They should be able to assess your running and prescribe you some hip strengthening and pelvic stability exercises to ensure that you remain injury free, and also become a stronger, faster runner.

Do it for your running times, and do it for your knees!

If this sounds like you, come and see one of our Physiotherapists today – www.ufitclinic.com

About the Author

Declan Halpin has always maintained a strong sporting interest, and has previously worked as an Academy Physiotherapist for Crystal Palace Football Club (a professional football club in London, England), and as a Rehabilitation Coach for the Western Province Stormers Academy (a professional rugby club from Cape Town, South Africa). Declan is our Senior Physiotherapist at the UFIT Clinic heading up Singapore's only clinic that combines an international team of experts from multi-disciplinary backgrounds  to ensure that your health is always at the forefront.