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Yoga or Pilates? What’s the difference? Which one is best for me?

Many of my clients, looking for a way to stretch and keep their muscles pain free ask me whether yoga or Pilates is a good option for them and which is best. The reality is that both are great ways to keep moving but are good for our bodies in different ways.

Pilates was developed in the early 20th Century by Joseph Pilates, a German physical trainer. He developed his concept of an integrated, comprehensive system of physical exercise, which he himself called “Contrology” through the study of yoga and the movements of animals combined with his knowledge as a gymnast, bodybuilder and boxer.

Reformer Pilates

Pilates is great for movement of joints and focused strengthening of the muscles. It can help strengthen areas that may be weakened by a sedentary lifestyle, injury or misuse of the area. It can help correct posture and motor skills through use of body weight exercises performed on the floor or with equipment such as the reformer or therabands, foam rollers and exercise balls.

Pilates equipment

Originating in India, yoga has been practised for centuries as a physical, mental and spiritual discipline. Various styles of yoga are popular today for developing greater strength, flexibility, relaxation and meditation. Popular styles throughout the world include hatha, iyengar and ashtunga yoga. Yoga can be used for improving the flexibility of the muscles and it will also increase the flexibility of the joints. Specific poses are said to massage organs, lengthen and strengthen muscles and tendons and promote inner wellbeing.

Yoga

While it’s impossible to tell how many people regularly practise both disciplines, it’s often said that yoga, with its countless offshoots and different styles is the most widely practised exercise system in the world. While Pilates estimate more than 25 million people worldwide as devotees, largely in western countries such as Australia, Canada and the UK.

Some experts say practising Pilates can help build strength to improve yoga performance. While stretching of yoga, will help relieve muscles sore from Pilates strengthening. As yoga and Pilates have different aims, it’s unlikely that combining the two would cause overuse. However, if muscles and joints are sore, give them time to rest and recover.

So which is best to incorporate into your routine?

Stretching

There is little scientific evidence to say which is best for what. Although I would say that if you are currently injured or not exercising that some stretching and prescribed or clinical Pilates instruction from a qualified physiotherapist or remedial massage therapist might be best. Starting yoga with an existing injury or little fitness could lead to further injury.

That said, gentle styles of yoga such as hatha and iyengar with a good instructor can be beneficial to all, especially for those looking for relaxation and guided meditation techniques.

Devotees to both disciplines will say that theirs is the better option. However, the thing to remember is that all movement is good movement, and the best exercise is always the one that you prefer – as this helps motivation and consistency, with improved and long-term results.

The best strategy? Try them for yourself and see what you like best.

Why Am I Sore After a Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage is a style of massage that is usually practised with oil on skin, with a firmer pressure than relaxation massage. It’s aim is to reach the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue than those underlying the skin.

How does it work?

iStock_000010728710XSmallOur muscles are made of tiny fibres call myofibrils. When our muscles are overused or misused the fibres can adhere together or tear. It’s not really known why this happens but we know that heat and compression helps to break down the adhesions, attracting blow-flow to the area and help heal the tears. This is where deep tissue massage can help.

Deep tissue massage promotes blood flow to the injured area and creates micro-tears in the muscle tissue, to speed up the healing process. Because of this, the area becomes bruised, and this is what causes the pain after the massage. Usually this is only felt when you touch the area that was treated, and normally wont be visible on the skin.

The pain you experience after a massage should only be likened to how you feel after a heavy exercise session, and not a worsening of the pain of your injury that was treated. If your injury feels worse then the massage may have been too firm, or that your condition cannot be remedied with massage.

Who can benefit from deep tissue massage?

Hip painAnyone suffering from chronic or acute muscle tension. This can be caused by overuse or misuse, a pre-existing condition or recent injury.

Deep tissue massage can break down old scar tissue left from injury or surgery. It can help alleviate tension built up from conditions like arthritis or inflammation in the joints. It can help manage pain from poor posture or repetitive motion like sitting at a desk all day, using tools or long hours exercising.

What to expect in a massage?

Your massage therapist will start with a kneading style of massage, generating some heat in the tissue to start to warm up the muscle and help you relax. They then might perform firm stripping motions in the direction of the muscle they are treating. A good massage therapist will normally (but not always) be able to feel the change in tissue tension and know where you are tight, where you have trigger points and taught bands.

shutterstock_412363579Unfortunately this can often be uncomfortable. Your massage therapist should always work within your pain threshold and ask you if the pressure is okay. They may even ask you to grade the pain out of ten. Don’t be afraid to speak up if the pressure is too much for you. In this case, pain is not gain. Too much pressure may be doing further damage to the muscle and cause your injury to flare up further.

The massage therapist will just their palms, knuckles, fist, forearm and even their elbow. The speed of the strokes will most likely be slow and even stop and hold at points with more tension until it eases.

Don’t forget to breathe

Be sure to breathe throughout the treatment, this may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people hold their breathe to cope with the pain. If you need to hold your breath, then the pressure is too much. Deep breathing can help you tolerate more pressure and the oxygen will help the muscles release. Your massage therapist may even ask you to take a deep breath ‘into the muscle’ that they are treating.

What to do after a massage?

shutterstock_252553801Your massage therapist should give you after care advise. It is recommended you rest after your massage, drink plenty of water to replenish fluids that have been flushed out during the massage and apply heat to the area you had treated. This will help your muscles recover from the massage and recover from your injury. Another great way to ease muscle soreness after a massage is to have an Epsom salt bath.

Vertebrobasilar insufficiency: Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis

VERTEBROBASILAR INSUFFICIENCY (VBI)

What is vertebrobasilar insufficiency?
Vertebrobasilar insufficiency (VBI) refers to a condition in which blood flow to the vertebral and basilar arteries is restricted, thereby providing transient insufficient blood flow to the posterior portions of the brain. It is sometimes known as beauty salon or Golden Gate Bridge syndrome, due to the effect of tilting the head back, causing vertigo or drop attacks.

What are the signs and symptoms?
Vertigo, the loss of full control of bodily movements, dizziness, temporary loss of consciousness, ‘drop’ attacks, visual disturbances and motor and sensory changes.

Who gets vertebrobasilar insufficiency?
Risk factors for the development of VBI include:

  • smoking,
  • high blood pressure (hypertension),
  • diabetes,
  • obesity,
  • being over the age of 50,
  • family history of the disease,
  • elevated lipids, or fats, in the blood (known as hyperlipidemia).

People who have atherosclerosis or peripheral artery disease also have an increased risk for developing VBI.

How vertebrobasilar insufficiency diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and run a series of tests if you have symptoms of VBI.
Your doctor will ask you about your current health conditions and may order the tests such as CT or MRI scans, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), blood tests to evaluate clotting ability, an echocardiogram, an X-ray of your arteries, which is called an angiogram.
In rare cases, your doctor may also order a spinal tap, or lumbar puncture.

How vertebrobasilar insufficiency treated?
• Medication and lifestyle changes
Patients should quit smoking immediately, attempt to lower cholesterol levels through diet, and exercise regularly. Physicians may also prescribe medication to control high blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce blood coagulation.
• Open Surgical Repair
Three basic surgical procedures can be used to restore flow to the brain through the vertebral and basilar arteries. Bypass grafting, direct arterial or endarterectomy.
• Endovascular repair
A newer technique called endovascular repair is used to treat vertebrobasilar insufficiency by expanding the artery wall.

Can massage help?
Manual therapies such as chiropractic or physiotherapy treatments can create a change in blood flow, but little research has been done to show its effectiveness.
Manual therapists such as massage, physio or chiropractors need to be made aware of the condition in order to take precautions in positioning and treating the client to avoid any ‘drop attack’. If there has been a diagnosis of blood clots massage is contraindicated.

Are there any complications?
The outlook for VBI depends on your current symptoms, health conditions, and age. Younger patients who experience mild symptoms and control them through lifestyle changes and medication tend to have good outcomes. Advanced age, frailty, and strokes can negatively affect your outlook.

How can I avoid getting vertebrobasilar insufficiency?
Sometimes VBI can’t necessarily be prevented. This can be the case for those who are aging or those who’ve had a stroke. However, there are steps that reduce the development of atherosclerosis and VBI. These include:

  • quitting smoking,
  • controlling blood pressure,
  • controlling blood sugar,
  • eating a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables and whole foods,
  • and being physically active.

Further reading
http://www.nebraskamed.com/neuro/surgery/vertebral-basilar-insufficiency
http://www.healthline.com/health/vertebrobasilar-insuficiency#Symptoms4
https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/vascular/diseases/vertebrobasilar.html

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