Fracture: The Paper Anniversary

Last summer, almost to the day, I fractured and dislocated my knee. Let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant. I was playing (soccer/football) and the tackle was “reckless and ridiculous.”

Here’s my post from a year ago.

So, on the anniversary of the tackle and an injury that sent my life in new directions, here are a few thoughts about recovery.

Sorting out the injury

Rehab was the first order of the day. I visited the Glasgow Royal infirmary on a regular basis. This involved squats and dips and stretching and rubber tubes.

A selection of exercises

Yes, the NHS is understaffed and overworked, but the physios were tremendous!

I also had to get the extent of the damage straightened out. The doctors (and I) needed to go deep. Cue the futuristic MRI.

Once I received the letter, a weight was lifted. I was getting to the bottom of the injury.

So, I prepped myself. I was not pregnant. Check. I filled in the questionnaire. Check.

I left my family at home. And got psyched. As a “citizen in need of medical attention,” I felt like I was visiting the Elysium cure-all machine:

I went to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for the test and took some pictures along the way.

And

And

After I was stuck in the deafening machine for 35 minutes on a Sunday morning, it was determined NO SURGERY was required. No need to go under the knife.

Disruption

As you’d expect, the injury caused a massive disruption in my existence. Yes, my whole freaking existence. Both my personal and professional life was affected.

For starters, I became more familiar with ‘pain.’ Regular, recurring pain. Others, I’m sure, deal with higher levels of pain all the time – and have done so for years. It was new for me, though. It didn’t go away. It stuck with me, niggling. Persistent. I realized that I’d have to be stubbornly optimistic, too.

On a personal level, the pain and physical restrictions impacted how much I could horse around with my kids. That sucked. I occasionally fretted about the long-term damage to my knee and whether I’d make a full recovery. There was anxiety, in other words.

On a professional level, the disruption wasn’t terrible. It helps that I’m a writer and teacher and don’t have to be on my feet all day. Were this not the case, I might have considered worker’s compensation. I had to cancel on a few people and events, which was regrettable. On the positive side, if I can call it that, the ever-present pain in my life pushed me to think about types of pain, the use of drugs to dull the pain, and the future of my own research.

Goals

After I got my knee sorted out with the MRI and determined there was no need for surgery, I could start focusing on targets.  But what kind of goals did I have?

I settled on (again) some personal and professional goals.

On the personal side, I wanted to make up for the lost playtime with my kids. So lots and lots of horsing around in the back garden!

I decided that I’d focus on some running. I’m closing in on 40 and thought it’d be cool to try and run a 10 kilometer race in around 40 mins. A 40 in 40? Or 40 at 40? Something like that. I’ve kicked off the training. Stay tuned!

Professionally, I sought to build ‘pain’ into my research agenda. I couldn’t ignore it over the past year, so I channeled it. I talked about it more than I have in years past. And I wrote about it far more, as well.

You can read about pain and drugs, for instance, in my new book Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs.

A Year On

It’s the ‘paper’ anniversary of my knee injury. It really was brutal. The bright side, I suppose, is I learned a lot about myself.

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Knee Songs

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Supple bodies, healthy minds: yoga, psychedelics and American mental health

Supple bodies, healthy minds: yoga, psychedelics and American mental health
Abstract.
Much discussion about mental health has revolved around treatment models. As interdisciplinary scholarship has shown, mental health knowledge, far from being a neutral product detached from the society that generated it, was shaped by politics, economics and culture. By drawing on case studies of yoga, religion and fitness, this article will examine the ways in which mental health practices—sometimes scientific, sometimes spiritual—have been conceived, debated and applied by researchers and the public. More specifically, it will interrogate the relationship between yoga, psychedelics, South Asian and Eastern religion (as understood and practiced in the USA) and mental health.

The full article can be read here.

 

Yoga, 2018

According to Becky, over at The Art of Healthy Living, there are even more yoga trends than I first thought. Below she talks about what’s going to be hot in the yoga world during 2018.

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Novelty Yoga

Seriously I’m not even too sure what’s left, because it certainly feels as though everything has been given a yogic twist this year. There’s been…

Goat Yoga

You’ve heard of dog yoga (the experts like to call it ‘Doga’)…well the next level up is goat yoga (does that mean it’s called ‘Goga’?). Basically it’s a load of people doing yoga outside in the presence of some goats. Riiiiiight….and the benefit is what exactly? Well, the organisers say that the goats help create more feel good hormones, lower anxiety, provide comfort and reduce loneliness. OK so let’s get this straight, you’re doing downward dog and a goat jumps onto your back and that is….relaxing?..pleasant?..painful?…The goats are certainly having a lot of fun jumping around in a human playpark, but we’re not entirely convinced that the risk of being pooped on by a goat is all that worth it!

Beer Yoga

Really? Yes…really! Originating in Germany, the land of beer…but perhaps not yoga, the idea is that by swigging from a bottle of beer whilst practicing yoga it helps to encourage participants to relax more in an environment they feel more familiar and at home with i.e. the pub. We think this could really take off, especially in terms of getting more men out there trying yoga. What next…? Gin Yoga? Jäger Yoga? Proseccoga?

Couple Yoga

Grab your partner and get up close and personal with them whilst flowing through some yoga positions. Take a fitness friend by all means, but if you don’t know them well you’re certainly going to after one of these sessions! We think yoga is verging on the tantric anyway, so we see this getting big in 2018 among the trendy fit couple crowd. Apparently couple yoga improves levels of communication, encourages trust and is the ultimate way to add some sparkle back into a relationship.

Floating Yoga

The ultimate in core stability, float yoga is all about perfecting those tricky yoga positions whilst balancing on what is effectively a surfboard. Can be done on or off the water, depending on how good you are and whether you mind getting wet, but if you want next level yoga then this is deffo it. We think this will become a huge thing in 2018, especially as all the trendy fitsters are trying it out in LA…it’s only a matter of time!

And the list could seriously go on and on, there’s…Disco Yoga, Rooftop Yoga, Chromayoga (colour therapy yoga), Yoga on Ice (Snow-ga), HIIT Yoga, but we reckon it’s all about the animals. Hey if you can have Goat Yoga surely there’s a need for…yoga with frogs (Froga) or how about yoga with alpacas (Alpacoga), deffo gonna be a ‘thing’ 😉

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Becky also discusses other fitness trends coming your way in 2018:

Slacklining (which sounds like a chapter in the hangman’s ‘guide to successful neck-breaking’)

Boxing Mashups (like an afternoon of recycling old cardboard in the garage?)

Bounce Off (a kid’s game, right?)

Napping (uh, ok)

Water Workouts (as in swimming…)

 

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Thanks for reading. For more of my own writing on yoga, see here

https://lucasrichert.com/2016/10/18/yoga-boys-boys-of-yoga/

https://lucasrichert.com/2017/06/12/yoga-trends-2017/

https://lucasrichert.com/2017/06/13/two-more-yoga-trends-2017/

Fracture

Playing soccer has been a hobby/passion/thing to do for the majority of my life.

There’ve been no significant injuries to speak of. Until now.

So let’s talk about ‘the knee’ and pain.

new brace and crutches

A reckless and ridiculous challenge during my last game resulted in a minor fracture of the knee – and some major sit-on-my-butt time.

(Probably best that I go no further in describing the tackle, lest my blood begins to boil once more.)

So, I’ve got a near future filled with crutches, an immobilizer brace, ice, anti-inflammatory drug. Luckily, the future doesn’t hold surgical interventions! For now.

A swollen left knee

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Treatment for dummies (like me):

The treatment depends on the type of fracture. If you have an open wound with the fracture (I didn’t!), you may need treatment to control bleeding or prevent infection. You may need surgery to:

1) Remove all small fragments of bone
2) Wire the kneecap fragments together, if possible
3) Remove the kneecap if it has shattered
4) Your provider may put your leg in a brace, splint, knee immobilizer, or cast to keep your knee from moving while it heals.
5) Your healthcare provider may prescribe pain medicine.

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Pain medication? Well yes. I have been using Extra Strength Advil. And the occasional beer. Sometimes I think I need something stronger. Other times, no.

The National news last night discussed the rise of the opioid crisis and located one of the hot zones in Ohio. The story by Vik Adophia was powerful, well-conceived and executed.

(It’s worth noting that the state of Ohio is suing 5 major drug companies for precipitating the opioid epidemic. The manufacturers of the prescription painkillers are: Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc unit, a unit of Endo International Plc, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s Cephalon unit and Allergan Plc.)

Here are some of the top stories related to pain and opioids in the past few days.

Trump declares opioid abuse a national emergency in U.S.

Drug industry faces ‘tidal wave’ of litigation over opioid crisis

Canadian health advocates eye Portugal’s drug model to combat opioid crisis

Record number of drug-related deaths, as opioid crisis hits UK

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After the knee injury, I immediately thought of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

So what’s the future hold…

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I also thought of Kobe  Bryant’s injury history. And as you can see – the Mamba’s knees featured regularly.

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Stay tuned for periodic updates.

Hench

By Morgan Scott

Guest Post

(HENCH: strong and fit with very well-developed muscles; used about men)

1. Schwarzenegger: the Trendsetting Terminator

I have to admit it, growing up in the 1980s, myself and many males (and females) were in awe of bodybuilding action hero, the Austrian Oak, The Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger was of course not the first bodybuilder, but he was the first to bring this bizarre body-expanding behaviour into the limelight, beginning with the release of acclaimed documentary, Pumping Iron.

Schwarzenegger was and is a fascinating man. He left Austria to live the American Dream over in the US. What he didn’t know was that he would become the epitome of the American Dream. He nailed it. His vehicle? Bodybuilding. Schwarzenegger was already a local European bodybuilding champ but he knew America was the place to be to achieve his ultimate dream, to conquer bodybuilding and then conquer the movie business.

After winning Mr. Olympia 6 times he was going to hang up his posing trunks until he was convinced by the producers of Pumping Iron to carry on for one more season. They wanted to follow his quest for a  7th Mr Olympia title, which he ultimately achieved.

Years later in an interview, he confessed that he started to see the ridiculousness of it all, posing in little trunks.

From building up his body, Schwarzenegger went into acting. His breakthrough movie role came as Conan the Barbarian in 1982. The director John Milius actually told Schwarzenegger that he was too jacked for the part and that he actually had to lose muscle weight. This was the opposite of what bodybuilding was all about. However, a large part of bodybuilding is bulking and shredding where you would bulk up in off competition season and shred body fat leading up to one. Schwarzenegger had it covered and got it sorted ready for Conan.

Schwarzenegger had some challenges in his way; his English was terrible and he had a strange accent, plus Hollywood actors were just not huge behemoths back then. He also had a weird unpronounceable name and no acting experience. Well, the rest is movie history.

However, he was unique and he spurred an epidemic of muscle growth. In the wake of the Schwarzenegger phenomenon, gym memberships soared and muscles across the globe groaned and swelled in search for the ‘Pump’ and a body that would have Michelangelo’s David second-guessing himself.

Why do people build bodies in the first place? Why do they emulate Schwarzenegger? Success and motivational coach Tony Robbins tells us that one of the six human needs as to why any of us do what we do is Significance. We want to be seen, we want to ‘be’ somebody and what better way to be noticed, by having to walk into a room sideways. But do we need huge muscles to be significant in the world? At what point does growing your biceps become pathological?

Don’t get me wrong, having an awesome torso is a great thing to have. You look great, you feel great, clothes fit you well and you don’t have to worry about whether your beer belly looks big in this. What I’m wondering about is that line which separates ‘normal’ behaviour and when you enter into an obsessive world where size and body fat percentages becomes body dysmorphia – when the obsession overtakes the rational and becomes a problem, trumping the significance you seek.

2.Experiences

During my time lifting weights in gyms I got speaking to ‘the lads’ squeezing the iron now and again. I was curious as to why they were building such massive bodies. These were not the guys who were training for a particular sport or who were fitness trainers nor movie stars. These guys built for personal goals.

When asking them why they did it, I would usually get one of two answers, one being “Woman” (or men) or as one charming young man put it bluntly “Pussy!” So sex is high on the agenda. The second answer was “Because I was bullied at school.” Both answers certainly lent themselves to the motivation of feeling significant.

Social media, particularly Instagram, has become a cultural mirror feeding a worrying narcissistic trend to achieving the perfect body. Before, we only had floor-to-ceiling mirrors in gyms to flex and pose, to see our progress and satisfy our ego. Now we have a platform to tell the whole world about our triceps with a selfie. Just another way to feel significant, especially if hundreds, if not thousands of followers can double tap on your virtual torso to give you a heart. #mustbewinninginlifenow?

OK, sure, it’s not all about feeding ones ego; it’s also about mastering oneself and feeling good. The body may be the easiest bit of us to master, because even if your soul and spirit are in shatters, at least we might protect them in slabs of muscle.

Lifting weights also feels good. When bench pressing 100 kg you’re certainly in the present and not thinking about that work report. It’s the rush, the pump and even the delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) a couple of days after is a great feeling, we’ve triumphed, we’ve mastered our body.

I do worry that most young men are growing up being seduced by what the media and advertisers portray as the perfect body. Often the ideal is an unrealistic one at that, where anything less suggests unworthiness.

3.Final Thoughts

I remember talking to an old mate, who was into bodybuilding at the time, and he said “I just want to get Huge. I want to be a monster!” He was in his late thirties when it’s much harder to achieve ‘huge’ and he seemed to be a lost boy trapped, seeking a measure of significance.

I asked “But why do you want to be huge?” The chances of becoming a world champion bodybuilder were slim to zero and becoming the next Schwarzenegger, even slimmer. He just stared into space searching for an answer.

Let’s not forget that the idea of the perfect body is driven by profiteers preying on our fragile persona and a need for significance in the world. Just buy this widget and you too can have a body like this. Young men are even turning to steroids to reach perfection sooner, but at what cost?

Can we get more sex without spending hours in the gym? Can we heal our broken selves without having to get Hench? Can we still get in shape and look great without XXL shirts? Sure we can. If it’s significance we seek, can we achieve it in other ways and channel that energy into making a difference in the world?

Damn right you can.

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I’m delighted that professional photographer Morgan Scott shares his images and ideas. His exciting portfolio can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/morganscottuk/

Instagram: MorganScottUK

Twitter: MorganScottUK

Watch out for more posts from Morgan in the future.

Two More Yoga Trends, 2017.

Apparently, I missed some yoga trends in my most recent post. There are others.

For example: beer yoga.

Beer Yoga is yoga…with, yes, beer. German yogis BierYoga are reportedly the major first innovators, offering classes and workshops after seeing it being taught at the Burning Man festival. Since January, the idea’s spread internationally. Here are two recent articles on beer yoga.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-39711513/have-you-got-the-bottle-for-beer-yoga

http://www.gq.com/story/beer-yoga-is-a-thing

Then there’s Kilted Yoga, which is pretty self-explanatory.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-39076023 

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Thanks to Maaike de Vries for pointing these out.

Yoga Trends, 2017: Present and Future

Health and fitness trends evolve. Technology and imperatives in business force change. Consumers in health want fresh ideas and products. From Tae Boe to Thighmasters. From Bowflex to Bodyblade and belt massagers. Yoga is no different.

Yoga is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. About 37 million Americans practiced yoga at the beginning of 2016 and more than 80 million Americans were likely to try yoga at some point in the year, according to a study in Yoga Journal.

With all these potential pupils, teachers innovate. They employ new techniques and tricks. They use props and blend practices. Here are some examples in 2017.

  1. Yoga Retreat/Vacation
  2. Mobile Yoga (as in phones and apps)
  3. Live Music Yoga
  4. Yoga Therapy
  5. Acrobatic Yoga

Say what you will about these types of yoga, they’re coming your way. (That is, if they haven’t already!)

Yoga Retreats & Vacations

From the Guardian newspaper. “You can’t move for downward dog opportunities these days. The explosion of yoga in western countries means there’s a studio on every other street and such a variety of styles and options, that choosing a holiday or retreat can be overwhelming. So where to start? It makes sense to try a weekend away before committing to a whole week. One possibility is to choose a teacher you know or like the sound of and see if they’re running anything that suits. Or you could pick a venue you fancy and see what teachers are hosting holidays there. Think about what you want too – some combine yoga with other activities (maybe good for those with non-yogi partners), some are vegan, some don’t ban booze – it’s always worth asking before you book.”

Mobile Yoga

Here, mobile yoga studio have modified so that the “studio” travels to where the people may be…at work, shopping, at play, in the community. Yoga apps brings teachers right to your home!

From the New York Times: “Soul Stretch Mobile Yoga is a novel concept to the Cleveland area,” explains Rose Sabin, co-owner of the company with her daughter-in-law, Natalie Sabin. The mobile studio concept has worked well in other cities, “like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago” according to Sabin, “but this is Cleveland’s first mobile yoga studio.” Sabin’s goal for the company is two-fold: first, to bring yoga to the people by making it accessible and secondly, to help promote local businesses by bringing the unique offering of yoga class to a community business. As an advertising agency owner, Sabin understands all aspects of running a small business like certifications, insurance and marketing. She would like to help other business owners by allowing them to offer her company’s services and “expose more people to the beautiful, healing therapy of yoga.”

Recommended apps, courtesy of Healthline:

  • Yoga.com Studio
  • Pocket Yoga
  • Global Yoga Academy
  • Yoga Studio
  • Daily Yoga
  • Fitstar Yoga
  • 5 Minute Yoga

Live Music Yoga

Pretty straightforward. Here’s an example.

Yoga Therapy

Yoga Therapy, according to the British Council for Yoga Therapy, is the use of Yoga where there is a specific health need or needs. It is framed this way:

“Yoga Therapy uses the tools that you would find in many Yoga classes; postures, working with the breath, meditation, awareness of the body and/or mind, relaxation, and these are directed to the needs and ability of the person concerned. The aim is to promote good health for the person as a whole – the emphasis of this work may be towards the body, the mind, the emotions or a combination of these. A health problem may be primarily in one of these aspects, for example, back pain caused by poor posture. Yoga Therapy would then focus on working with the body and Yoga postures. If the back pain is exacerbated by stress, then including Yoga to help calm the mind, for example breathing techniques, will be very useful too. Our health is a dynamic combination of body and mind. Long term physical conditions are commmonly associated with depression and a variety of feelings – sadness, loss, frustration, anger. Our emotional health affects our physical health too, although this is difficult to quantify. Yoga can bring us awareness of the body and mind; and more understanding of how to help the body, emotions or patterns of thinking and provides a practical approach to developing a positive state of health.”

For Georg Feuerstein in the Huffington Post, “Yoga therapy is of modern coinage and represents a first effort to integrate traditional yogic concepts and techniques with Western medical and psychological knowledge.”

Acrobatic Yoga

According to the official website of AcroYoga, “it is a beautiful blend of ‘the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics and the loving kindness of Thai massage’.” It was founded by Jenny Sauer-Klein and Jason Nemer in 2003. The 3 main aspects of this form of yoga are trust, playfulness and a sense of community. Acro Yoga constitutes 3 elements: the Solar Acrobatic Practice, the Lunar Healing Arts, and the Yogic Practices.

There are several benefits as described on Stylecraze.com, including:

  • It develops amazing core strength.
  • Acro yoga has all the benefits of yoga and the healing properties of Thai massage.
  • It is improves balance, flexibility and coordination of the body.
  • It gives better control over one’s body.
  • It builds relationships and strengthens them. Acro yoga is based on trust and dependability of two people on each other. It helps in building strong partnerships.
  • It is a great way to workout with your spouse. It is a super romantic form of exercise. It brings people together.

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What does 2018 hold?

The editor of Yoga Journal, Carin Gorrell, has some thoughts:

That makes a lot of sense. Have you seen a change in which styles of yoga have been more popular over the years? I can’t necessarily track it through the decades, but I would say that vinyasa is more of a recent trend. Historically I think it was more Iyengar, more of that traditional track. What I’m seeing rising in popularity now is definitely the more restorative classes, like Yin. Part of that is because people are recognizing the greater benefits. There’s been a lot of research on what restorative can do for you beyond just stress relief. I’m also seeing a rise in the popularity of Kundalini...I think it’s really interesting and not necessarily what I would have anticipated.

Maybe a reaction to the it’s-all-about-sweat set. How do you feel about the crazy amount of commercialization around yoga in the past few years? Is it good or bad for yoga? Honestly, we get overwhelmed by the number of new products out there, and it’s hard to determine what’s good and what’s worth your dollars. And what’s so awesome about yoga is you really don’t need much to do it. It’s “have mat, will practice” pretty much. All the other stuff can be great and fun but is maybe not necessary. We hear all different opinions—some people really want to know what the best new yoga pant is and then some don’t, they just want to stick to the practice and be more traditional about it. I think it probably does get more people on the mat, though, and that’s a good thing.