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Author Topic: How to obtain (internal) muscle awareness - Yoga?  (Read 912 times)

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Offline Query

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How to obtain (internal) muscle awareness - Yoga?
« on: March 14, 2016, 10:24:18 PM »
I've been trying to "feel" my internal (deep) muscles - the ones that are close to the bone and far from the skin, so I can use them right.

A dance kinesiology instructor once told me that you can usually only feel the surface muscles. That the only way to feel internal muscles (as well as the intermediate muscle layers - I forget what they are called) is to make them sore. :(

A Yoga instructor says that Yoga lets you gain awareness of internal muscles without soreness. She says that by practicing meditation, breathing and relaxation, she has become aware of them, and can tell what they are doing.

Without requiring me the full many-year route of becoming a true Yogi, can someone describe a quick and easy route to gain this awareness? :)

Thanks!

P.S. When a Yogi says to "send" your "breath" to different parts of your body (including places far from the lungs), what does he/she mean?

Offline riley876

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Re: How to obtain (internal) muscle awareness - Yoga?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2016, 04:17:47 AM »
It is such a problem to make them sore?

Offline beginner skater

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Re: How to obtain (internal) muscle awareness - Yoga?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2016, 09:59:50 AM »
Generally, if you can identify the unique movement a muscle makes from an anatomy book etc, ( and some work synergistically, others antagonistically) and practise that isolated ,  movement, you will be able to identify that muscle by feeling it.  That's how people can learn to move their ears.

Making muscles sore can result in a lot of extraneous movement, which means you will identify functional groups. But many muscles within a functional group will have a particular movement that it does, simply because of the physics of where it attaches to on the bone.

Does that help?

Offline Query

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Re: How to obtain (internal) muscle awareness - Yoga?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2016, 03:20:05 AM »
Generally, if you can identify the unique movement a muscle makes from an anatomy book etc,

Can you give me an example of an anatomy book that shows those unique movements?

I was told some time ago by a PT that I needed to engage muscles other than my hamstrings and quads (primarily my psoas, and the entire hip flexor group) in leg motions, such as in deep knee bends, both to laterally stabilize the knee joint, and in order to use and therefore warm-up the other muscles, so they can be stretched successfully. (I'm not very flexible. Almost everything I try to do is limited by those muscles. They need to stretch.)

The PT said that those motions of the body can be alternately achieved by a wide variety of different muscles, so it isn't that obvious.

I've struggled to figure out how to successfully engage those other muscles, and how to tell if I have done so, rather than just use my quads and hamstrings to do the job.

>riley876 wrote
>It is such a problem to make them sore?

First, I'm not sure that is all that healthy. Also, I can't make them sore through heavy use if I can't figure out how to make myself use them. It's a chicken and egg problem. I can make my quads sore by doing a lot of deep knee bends, but not the other muscles. But my quads (and hamstrings) are already long enough, in the sense that they don't seem to limit my range of motion.

Offline beginner skater

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Re: How to obtain (internal) muscle awareness - Yoga?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2016, 05:54:20 AM »
Query,
you know that pre-exercise static stretches are no longer recommended? Dynamic exercises are ok. Just thought I would put that in  ;D

In your situation I would check out this site.
http://www.knee-pain-explained.com/knee-cap-exercises.html
Which goes in to knee exercises in great detail. I have done the link to the page showing knee cap exercises as it is the only bit where I have found it to talk about identifying and using a particular muscle, the vastus medialis oblique. But it shows detailed suggested beginner, intermediate etc knee exercises. And  I would concentrate on doing your knee exercises with really good form.

Here is a link to stretching particular muscles, the menu is 1/2 way down the page under Leg stretches. Note she suggests doing strengthening for a couple of weeks before you start the stretching.
http://www.knee-pain-explained.com/exercises-for-knee-pain.html



For a particular muscle's action, I would look at a copy of Snell's Clinical Anatomy from the 80s, but that's just using the resources I have available to me. The main drive of anatomy is structure rather than function, so you may find a more useful resource from a knee exercise book, or advice from a physio

Offline beginner skater

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Re: How to obtain (internal) muscle awareness - Yoga?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2016, 09:13:49 AM »
PS Googling psoas stretches comes up with a lot of options, I dont think you need to specifically warm up any muscle before stretching, if you do  5--10 mins of work with the relevant limb,  the adjacent muscles will be warm enough, born out by the 2nd link.

http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-treatment/runners-guide-to-the-psoas

http://www.fix-knee-pain.com/psoas-stretch/

Offline Query

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Re: How to obtain (internal) muscle awareness - Yoga?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2016, 06:41:11 PM »
Thanks, guys. Interesting links.

My knee pains are now mostly gone. I think the exercises the PT gave me - mostly leg lifts in all directions (front, back, sides, in between) helped, as did his advice to try to use lateral support muscles like the obliques to pull muscle tension across the front of the kneecap, thereby forcing it to follow the groove it is supposed to be in. I think I also symmetrized the lateral support muscles somewhat - I think they were originally a bit shorter on the inside ("medial") of the leg, possibly due to skating.  It took several years of exercising to get rid of the pain. Though, if I make the mistake (for me) of doing strength training (or running) on the same day as skating, or anything else that uses stretches, I still feel some pain in the knees during deep knee bends.

My main current other concern is still stretching the muscles that limit bending forwards, bending backwards, leg high front, side and back, and opening my hips, because I am substantially less flexible than most people all those places, and because muscle strains have been my most common injuries. I always mostly feel the stretch for all those things around the inside of my calves, extending a bit up and down from there, including near the groin. Bending my knees releases that tension - I can even do a fair Yoga "Child Pose" - but that isn't always practical. I looked at an anatomy book, and found that the "Psoas" was in that region - though it's hard to tell, because a lot of other muscles are too. The PT (a pricey sports PT/ATC with great references, including by people in the dance and skating communities) verified that my psoas were tight when I go into stretched positions - but said that a lot of the sub-surface muscles were tight too.

They keep changing their minds about static vs dynamic stretches, and when you do them. For my particular body, I find by experience that static stretches before exercise help prevent muscle strains.

I've tried a lot of ways of warming up before stretching. Even soaking in the whirlpool bath at the local pool. Then, I try to stretch by trying to push myself (even in the whirlpool) into the positions I want to reach, as far as I can. That helps a little - but not much. But I get even less flexible if I don't do it. I've been working hard on this flexibility issue for about 20 years. I've taken a lot of Stretch and Yoga classes, but they haven't helped all that much.

The right answer "should" be to stop trying to do sports that require stretching those parts of my body. Unfortunately, I'm stubborn.

Warming up the surrounding muscles sounds good - except I don't know that I am succeeding in using any of the surrounding deep muscles. Warming up the surface muscles is easy, because I can feel directly that they are being used. I'm not clear that the heat will percolate downwards enough.

The dance kinesiologist (used by a number of dance departments, including the University of Maryland, to teach courses aimed at reducing injury incidence) claimed that exercising the specific muscle(s) before stretching would help with stretches of those specific muscles, because those muscles would become warmer than the tissue around them. Of course that is particularly important to dancers, because they often have other muscles and ligaments that are too long, leading to dislocations and related injuries. (Not my problem.) So it is beneficial to only stretch the muscles that need to be stretched. She also claimed that raising the heart rate helps oxygenate the tissues that might need to be stretched, which she claimed makes them stretch better, with fewer injuries. (But - doesn't exercise exhaust the oxygen in the muscles you use?) Of course that was a few years ago, and may be out of date, and I don't know how extensive her medical background actually was. But the PT said it made sense.


Offline beginner skater

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Re: How to obtain (internal) muscle awareness - Yoga?
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2016, 07:12:31 PM »
I think you're making it too complicated. if you jump about and raise your HR and muscle temperature, I dont think you're going to have a cold spot in your psoas. because you didnt specifically use it.

I dont know that your kinaesiologists theories even made mainstream exercise physiology. Maybe you need to google and see if you can find any research papers.

If you want to study muscles and their attachments in more detail, the nice thing about my copy of Snell is the pictures are very clear and colour coded, unlike most anatomy books.


Offline Doubletoe

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Re: How to obtain (internal) muscle awareness - Yoga?
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2016, 04:39:59 PM »
This is exactly what Google is for!  I have been experiencing a series of symptoms that led me to suspect that my psoas was tight, and my massage therapist agreed that the psoas was probably the issue.  So I was just doing some online research this morning and found some great information that confirms my suspicion.

This is the best single site I found:  http://skydmagazine.com/2015/07/meet-your-psoas-the-muscle-at-the-center-of-it-all/

It gives two great pictures that help you figure out where the psoas and iliacus muscles are, as well as explaining the complex relationships between the psoas and the neighboring muscles.   It also provided this link to a video that shows exactly how the psoas works:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcrzfTSCZEs

I'm glad I read the whole page and also this article that it linked to http://sequencewiz.org/2014/04/30/stretch-the-psoas/ because it explained the danger of simply stretching the psoas rather than applying a more wholistic approach.  It provided this great series of yoga moves designed to restore the range of motion of the psoas and other hip flexors:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7aiP-YUTYA  I tried it and could definitely feel it helping!