If you are familiar with performing a traditional elbow plank, try this new variation for an extra challenge to your core muscles. Just remember to make your movements very small in order to keep it safe and effective.
Begin on all fours. Position your elbows directly below your shoulders and place your hands and forearms flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Straighten your legs behind you. Balance on your toes and forearms as you bring your hips down to shoulder level. Keep you knees straight and press your heels back. Pause for two breaths.
On an exhalation, contract your abdominals and use your core muscles to raise your pelvis a few inches higher. Pause, continuing to hold your abs firm to support the weight of your pelvis. Slowly lower your hips back down to shoulder level and pause. Repeat this small movement three to six times. Release by bending your knees and sit back on your heels to rest. Repeat the entire exercise one more time.
Q: I work on the computer all day and develop a terrible headache by evening. I have had an eye check up and an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. Both are normal.
A: Computer furniture has to be ergonomically designed so that the screen, keyboard and chair are aligned correctly and placed at the correct height. The chair should be adjusted so that the eyes are on level with the screen. Also, the glare of the screen should be reduced with an antiglare filter or spectacles.
If the room is air-conditioned, take steam inhalations morning and evening to reduce nasal congestion. Try to do head and neck exercises morning and evening to reduce strain and tension in the muscles. Also, jog 40 minutes in the morning before going to work.
Q: I have a shooting pain down my left arm. I thought it was a heart problem but the doctor said the ECG and other tests were normal. I then took an X-ray. It was diagnosed as a “cervical rib”. What should I do?
A: Ribs normally arise from the vertebrae in the chest. However, in 0.5 per cent of people, partial ribs arise from the neck vertebrae. These are called “cervical ribs”. They are usually asymptomatic and discovered incidentally on a routine X-ray. They cause symptoms if they compress nerves and blood vessels going to the arm. This can occur in middle age as a result of weight gain, poor posture or decreased muscle tone.
Physiotherapy is usually all that is required. If the pain is severe and intractable, surgery may be advised.
Q: My son has started to develop boils all over his arms and legs. They are painful and when they burst yellow pus oozes out.
A: These superficial skin boils are usually due to a bacterium called Staphylococcus, which lives harmlessly on the skin of most people. Sometimes it manages to get a foothold in the skin (usually at the site of mild trauma), producing recurrent boils.
Your son needs a scrub bath with a medicated soap like Neko applied with a plastic or natural scrubber twice a day. No talcum powder should be used. Apply Neosporin skin cream or Mupirocin ointment.
Q: My three-year-old daughter always has a runny nose. She also has a frequent cough. After a course of antibiotics for three or five days, she is better. But the cycle repeats within a few days. Could it be primary complex?
A: Primary complex classically causes “failure to thrive”. In short, the child fails to gain weight and may actually lose weight instead. Also, fever is present everyday, usually at night. Your daughter does not seem to have these symptoms.
The doctor may be prescribing the antibiotics to allay your anxiety. If the child has only a viral infection or an allergic cold, the antibiotics will not help. Check the temperature with a digital thermometer. It should be more than 100.5° F for at least three days before antibiotics are begun.
If your child has recently started school, you can expect six to eight colds a year.
It is also possible that she is allergic to something in the house like cigarette smoke, incense or a mosquito repellent.
Q: I find that I cannot lift my right arm. It does not go up more than half way after which I develop severe pain.
A: It sounds like you have “adhesive capsulitis” or frozen shoulder. It occurs usually in middle age, as a result of injury or diabetes. Sometimes it can occur without any apparent reason. Treatment is with painkillers and physiotherapy. Rarely, surgery may be required.
Q: My tonsils are very large and they seem to have yellow dots. I am 35 years old. Do I need to have them removed?
A: Tonsils usually become smaller as people grow older. They are rarely troublesome after the age of 20 years. You need to consider surgery only if they are an obstruction to swallowing, or become infected, and cause pain and fever five or six times a year.
The yellow dots may be food particles stuck in the crypts of the tonsil. Perhaps if you gargle with salt water they may disappear.
Q: My two-year-old son falls forwards for no reason at all. This occurs several times a day, even while he is sitting.
A: Children sometimes develop partial seizures with the movements you are describing. It’s very much a treatable condition. Consult a paediatrican who may order tests like an electroencephalogram (EEG) and a brain scan. You may be referred to a neurologist.
If you practice yoga on a regular basis, you’re probably familiar with the classic position called triangle pose. But it’s a good idea, every once in a while, to practice this pose with the back of your body against a flat wall, so you can check the position of your shoulders and hips for correct alignment.
Stand against a wall in a wide stance with your arms extending out to the side at shoulder level. Turn your left foot in slightly, and turn your right foot out, so that your right big toe points to the right.
Shift your pelvis to the left as you lean your torso to the right, resting your right hand on your shin, ankle or floor. Keep your shoulders and hips and top arm in contact with the wall throughout the entire pose. Feel your chest opening wide, with your hips in line with your shoulders. Breathe fully in this pose for 20 to 30 seconds. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side.
This move helps develop strong muscles in the core and upper body. For maximum benefit, make sure that your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line before you try to lift yourself. CLICK & SEE
Bend your knees and lie on your left side. Place your left elbow directly below your left shoulder, palm flat on the floor. Stack your knees and ankles on a round 36-inch foam roller, letting your outer left hip rest on the floor. Reach your right arm out to the side. Check that your hips are forward, in line with your knees.
On an inhale, press down against your left outer thigh and your left hand/forearm as you raise your hips off the floor. Contract your abdominals and keep your body in a straight line as you straighten your left leg. Balance in this position for six to 10 seconds. Focus on keeping your left shoulder pressed down away from your left ear. Slowly lower your hips, then repeat two more times on this side. Switch sides and repeat with your right forearm and hand on the floor.
Whenever you feel tightness in your chest, shoulders and back, practice this variation of a backbend, or bridge pose. It will help release tension in your mid- and upper back as well as stretch and strengthen your hips and legs.
Step-1. Lie back on a mat with your heels resting on a sturdy chair. Extend your arms alongside your body, palms flat on the floor. Make sure your feet are hip-distance apart and your knees are parallel to each other.
Step-2. On an inhale, press firmly on your feet as you raise your hips toward the ceiling. Interlace your fingers and rotate your upper arms outward so your shoulders can roll under. Keep your arms and hands on the floor while imagining your shoulder blades are moving up and through your chest. This will help open and release tight spots in your upper and middle back and chest area. Hold this position and focus on slow, deep breathing. To come down, release your hands and slowly lower your hips to the floor.