How does stretching make you more flexible?


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How does stretching make you more flexible? Intuitively, it seems that it must have something to do with your muscles—that they must lengthen or that the tissue must become more pliable over time. Yet, as we’ve seen, the evidence doesn’t bear that out. Stretching makes muscle tissue more pliable in the short term, but those […]

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Do yoga inversions drain lymph?

Do yoga inversions help drain lymph?


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Do yoga inversions help drain lymph? Basically, yes. In the same way that inversions, such as headstand and shoulder stand, help return blood to your heart, turning upside down can assist lymph drainage from your legs. However, it isn’t necessary to invert to keep lymph moving. Your body has other means to accomplish the same […]

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Do yoga inversions reverse the flow of blood?

Do yoga inversions reverse the flow of blood? Although yoga teachers sometimes say this, the answer is no. The blood in your body only flows in one direction. From your heart’s left ventricle, it’s pumped through a network of arteries to the capillary beds that surround the cells of your body. That’s where your cells take […]

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Glutes and hip pain in yoga

The glutes and hip pain in yoga

“Don’t contract your glutes.” I’ve heard this instruction many times from yoga teachers, especially during backbending poses, but it’s always puzzled me. The gluteus maximus – the large muscle of your buttocks — is the prime mover in actions that require hip extension against gravity, such as climbing stairs or standing up from a squat. […]

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Yoga anatomy video: Knee alignment in Warrior II

Just put up a video clip from my first knee workshop last Tuesday at the Shala, about preventing patellofemoral pain in Warrior II. If you missed last Tuesday, I’ll be doing two more workshops about the knee. This Tuesday, February 4, we’ll go over repetitive stress injuries and what happens when you hyperextend your knee. […]

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What happens when a muscle stretches? (Part 2)

In the previous post in this series, I described how stretching temporarily affects muscle tissue by changing its viscoelastic properties. This segment begins a discussion of how long-term changes in flexibility happen. As I mentioned in the last post, increasing your flexibility has more to do with your nervous system than with your muscles. I’ll get to that in […]

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Skeletal muscle fiber

What happens when you stretch a muscle? (Part 2)

In the previous post in this series, I described how stretching temporarily affects muscle tissue. This segment begins a discussion of long-term changes in flexibility. Ultimately, lasting gains in flexibility have more to do with your nervous system than with your muscles. More on that in the next post, but first, let’s look at an alternative hypothesis, namely […]

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