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Musician. Triathlete. Almost.
Musician. Triathlete. Almost.

Yoga-tta be kiddin' me.

Bishmanby BishmanMay 9th 2012
If you've read my last blog post, you'll know that I'm nursing a poorly knee/hip injury. It's been recommended to me by a physiotherapist that I read 'Stretch to Win' by husband and wife Ann and Chris Frederick, and also try some Yoga.

Until she suggested this, I had gone through life with the thought that Yoga was only for the ultra-lean 50-something superstars like Madonna and Sting.
Yoga-tta be kiddin' me.
What I've found is that yes, you do need strength, but in a different way. It's an endurance strength rather than purely being able to suffer enough to lift 1,000kg for 3 reps. You also need to be flexible. I guess it's this combination of flexibility (or rather being relaxed, tension-free) whilst being strong that give Yoga the benefits we always hear about - i.e. remaining injury free.

I'm kind of enjoying it, but at the moment it's all coming from a book - which is useful because you get all the background info they would never have time to teach in a class and which is essential for padding out an otherwise thin book. It's limiting because it relies on descriptions, photos and the crucial element of self-critique to get the poses right. I think I need to get to a Yoga class and see/experience/suffer in the flesh. It's kind of like looking at a music score and imagining the sound versus being sat front row listening to the orchestra hammer it out.

'Stretch to Win' by the Fredericks is a fantastic read once you get past the hard-sell American marketing rhetoric that floods the early chapters (I've already bought it - stop selling it to me!) Their approach seems more holistic than other books on stretching that I've compared it with. They are almost Yoga-like in their methodology; they argue not just for a focus on the muscle or joint that is injured or that you want to stretch, but for the need of a fuller working in and around the area with stretches involving the connective tissue and periphery muscles as well.

The early chapters do give a good understanding into how muscles are affected by training and after some careful self diagnosis, guided by their chapter on "Personal Flexibility Assessment", I'd say that I've injured my hip fascia through not stretching correctly before and after training. This has caused my hip muscle to tighten and my hamstrings to take more of the strain during cycling and running which in turn caused the tightness around the back on the knee. This unfortunately became all too much for my body during the cold and storming conditions of the Manchester Marathon 2 weeks ago. They stressed the need to create a regime to gradually lengthen and loosen the muscles/connective tissue so I've been using the chapter on Restorative stretches. The first 8 or so stretches of which focus heavily on the hips and hamstrings and I've already noticed a massive difference. I can put more weight on it though I'm still not 100%, but I've noticed increased flexibility and rapid recovery.

Luckily, some of the book is available to read on google books, so you can all check it out for yourselves.

Again, this is all coming from a book - so I've booked a free consultation with a physio at Bristol Uni Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health to see what they can tell me (the physio I mentioned earlier is actually a piano pupil of mine, so her advice for Yoga and stretching was not specific but generic advice based on a quick description of what happened, what I felt and what she knows of my training).

Moral of the Post:
I guess the moral of this post is to emphasise how important it is to stretch properly. I don't mean holding one or two poses for a couple of minutes after a workout; take the time to actually lay down and stretch the hips, quads, hamstrings, knees, glutes, calves, feet etc. and that's just after a bike. A swim or run should include torso, arm and upper body stretches as well. It is worth spending at least a quarter of the time you spent training again on stretching out properly. Don't underestimate the importance of stretching, TriBlog readers!
TriRachby member: TriRach, May 9th 2012 17:53
Oooh Stretch to Win does look good. Should I? Only 4 left on Amazon...will there be a rush?!
Bishmanby blog author: Bishman, May 10th 2012 10:06
I don't think enough people read this blog for there to be a rush, sadly. It's an excellent book though!
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