Posts tagged ‘muscle-soreness’

Remedies for Sore Muscles

Yoga Mala

On Sunday, I did a Yoga Mala, which is 108 sun salutations done in a row. This particular Yoga Mala was a fundraiser I did for lung cancer research. My grandfather died in August of lung cancer. Yogis call a fundraising Yoga Mala a Yogathon, like a marathon.

In today’s post, I am sharing pictures from the Yogathon. Also, below is an explanation of a sun salutation and why we perform 108, as well as remedies to combat muscle soreness from overexertion.

My Yogathon temporary tattoo on my hand. đŸ™‚

My sign dedicating my 108 sun salutations to my grandfather.

Sun Salutation – Surya Namaskar

A sun salutation is a sequence of 9 breaths. In Sanskrit, a sun salutation is called Surya Namaskar.

There are many variations of sun salutations, but below is the sequence we practiced 108 times in our Yogathon.

Surya Namaskar A

Inhale – Urdhva Hastasana (Upraised Hand Posture)
  2. Exhala – Uttanasana (Intense Stretch/Forward Fold)
  3. Inhale – Ardha Uttanasana (Half Intense Stretch/Half Forward Fold)
  4. Exhala – Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Posture)
  5. Inhale – Urdhva Mukha Savasana (Upward Facing Dog)
  6. Exhale – Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward Facing Dog)
  7. Inhale – Ardha Uttanasana (Half Intense Stretch/Half Forward Fold)
  8. Exhale – Uttanasana (Intense Stretch/Forward Fold)
  9. Inhale – Urdhva Hastasana (Upraised Hand Posture)

The Sacred 108

108 sun salutations sounds like a lot of work. Yes, it is really hard as it sounds. It took about 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete a Yoga Mala with this sequence.

A lot of people ask why we perform 108 sun salutations. The number 108 is a sacred number in yoga and in Hinduism. There are many explanations as to why this is.

The simplest explanation is that Hindu prayer beads have 108 beads strung together, along with one guru bead. The prayer beads are used to say a mantra 108 times, very similar to Catholic rosary beads.

Combating Muscle Soreness

It should go without saying that performing 108 sun salutations will cause overexertion of the muscles. There are several tricks I recommend to people when they have overly exerted their muscles.

The first trick I recommend is to eat potassium rich foods after the work out or practice, Some common potassium rich foods are bananas, tomato sauce, avocados, most legumes, and coconut water. Muscles cramp up when they lack potassium, so feeding the muscles potassium will prevent muscle cramping and fatigue.

Anyone who has ever worked out too hard, shoveled snow, or performed any other form of manual labor is familiar with muscle soreness and stiffness a day or two after the exertion. This muscle soreness is caused by a build up of lactic acid in the muscles.

The first way I recommend combating muscle soreness is to do some light working out. Warming the muscles back up with keep the muscles from feeling stiff, and movement will work the lactic acid out of the muscles.

Another trick is to take a warm bath in Epsom salts. Epsom salts have long been used as a remedy for sore, achy muscles.

The final recommendation I have is to use a tennis ball or a myofascial release foam roller to massage out the lactic acid in the aching muscles.

Some may have seen a myofascial release foam roller in the gym. It is a cylinder-shaped dense foam apparatus that is used to iron out muscle soreness. Personally, I massage my shoulders and arms with a tennis ball, and use a foam roller on my back and lower body to relieve muscle soreness.

I used all of these tricks on Sunday after the Yogathon to ease my sore muscles. The next time you have muscle soreness or stiffness due to muscle fatigue, see if these remedies work for you.



P.S. My fundraising for lung cancer research continues through December 31, 2011. If you would like to make a donation, please click here. Thank you for your consideration to help fund research and to raise awareness for the number one killing cancer in America. Remember, not everyone who gets lung cancer is a smoker, but lung cancer research is the most underfunded cancer in the country because of that stigma.


Post-Workout Stretch

A friend of mine asked me to post a couple of poses he could do after a workout. Today’s post, I focus on one such stretch.

Below, I walk you how to get into Uttanasana, the forward fold. The reason this posture is great after a workout is that it opens the hips, the calves, and the hamstrings, and secondarily on the back. With variations by using a chair, you can also get into the shoulders.

Uttanasana, fullest expression

Please do not let the picture above scare you. This picture represents the fullest expression of the posture. I am aware that not everyone’s hamstrings are that flexible, especially runners and sedentary office workers. Remember, there are modifications and variations for everyone.

If your hamstrings are not that flexible when you try to come into Uttanasana, please bend your knees very deeply and connect your stomach to your thighs. That will protect the low back so you do not pull a muscle.

Uttanasana – The Forward Fold

  1. Begin in Tadasana, Mountain Pose. In Mountain Pose, the thighs are contracted and the abdomen is pulling in toward the spine.
  2. Inhale raise your arms up and look up toward your hands.
  3. Exhale begin to hinge at the hips to forward fold. Keep the knees bent if the hamstrings are tight. Also, keep the front side of the body open. Do not round in through the shoulders and thoracic spine (area of the spine connected to the ribs).
  4. If the knees are bent, focus on straightening the spine on every inhale and folding a little more forward on every exhale, lifting the hips upward toward the ceiling.
  5. If the knees are straight, keep the quadricep muscles contracted. A contraction of the quadriceps facilitates the opening of the hamstrings. On every inhale lift up on your quads and engage your abdominal muscles to lengthen the spine. On every exhale, relax the contractions and forward fold a little bit deeper, continuing the opening of the hamstrings, hips, calves and back.
  6. To come out of uttanasana, inhale halfway up so that the spine is parallel to the floor. Exhale completely, then inhale rise the rest of the way up to standing. Taking that extra second in Ardha Uttananasana, or half forward fold, will help stabilize the blood pressure so that you do not get dizzy going from a forward fold directly to standing.

Variations of Uttanasana

  1. If balance is an issue, you can perform this posture with the sitting bones on a wall. You can keep the knees bent and lean into the wall, or if the hamstrings will allow, you can straighten the legs vertically with the wall. Follow the same steps 4-6 above.
  2. To open the shoulders, use a chair in front of you. Place the hands on the seat of the chair and try to drop the head and drop the heart through your arms. To lessen the intensity of the stretch, bend your elbows and place the crossed forearms on the back of the chair. Still drop the head and try to sink your heart through your upper arms.

Uttanasana against a wall

Benefits of Uttanasana

  1. Lengthens the hamstrings and calves and opens the back of the hips. Secondarily it stretches the back.
  2. Strengthens the quadriceps and the abdominals.
  3. Alleviates neck and shoulder pain.
  4. Aids in digestion.
  5. Helps relieve stress, fatigue, anxiety, headaches, and mild depression.


Do not perform the full variation of uttanasana with a back injury. Instead, bend your knees. You can also perform Ardha Uttanasana facing the wall with your arms pressing into the wall. Your torso and your arms are parallel to the floor.

Happy stretching,