PiPi Unbound

Growing up, even a thimble full of these squiggly bits was a treat It still is. I found this in a desi store here. Now I get my stash from Mumbai on every visit. (Chikki was my other treat.)


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Repetitive Strain Injury

Cross-posted from Aches & Joints


Repetitive Strain Injury or RSI describes a group of conditions associated with overuse of soft tissues such as muscles, tendons and nerves. RSI causing pain can affect the upper back, arms, hands, wrists, or fingers. Continuous and prolonged use of a computer keyboard, strumming a guitar, or wielding tools on an assembly line, have all been associated with RSI.


Continue reading “Repetitive Strain Injury”

Five Easy Steps to an Exceptionally Long life!

Good genes certainly help in living a long life. But alas, we don’t get to control them. A recent study (Original Article; NYT article) tracked more than 2000 elderly men (ave 72 years) for up to 25 years. Based on those who survived to age 90, the authors identified five factors that we can control.

Five Easy Steps to an Exceptionally Long life:

  1. Abstain from smoking
  2. Weight management
  3. Control blood pressure
  4. Regular exercise, and
  5. Avoid diabetes

Not very surprising! It’s not that those long-lifers got less ill, but they became ill a little later in life, and were better able to deal with the diseases and survive.

Not only did survivors enjoy healthier lifestyles, more than two-thirds described their health as “excellent” or “very good;” and they were mentally with-it! And sadly, smokers had worse physical function coupled with a decrease in mental function as they aged. Don’t expect the tobacco industry to put this in their cool ads! Interestingly, low cholesterol levels and social drinking of alcohol were not associated with increased life span. Even though they studied men, these finding certainly hold for women as well.

So stub out and join me for a run!

BTW, did I mention that survivors in their 90s had a higher incidence of arthritis? This may be partly related to their vigorous activity. So those knee aches may be with me for a while! 😦

Foot and Toe Extension

Continues the Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis Series.


For most of the day, our feet are bound within stiff shoes and many of the soft tissues within the feet are infrequently used. This is a simple yet very effective exercise to stretch the heel and underlying plantar fascia … and bring life to those toes!

If you have heel pain, perform this stretch as you wake up and place your feet on the floor. This can also be performed while sitting in the office chair or on the couch.

  • Sit on a chair and place your ankle over the opposite knee.
  • Grip toes and gently pull them back towards the knee, while holding the ankle to prevent it from moving.
  • Feel the stretch in the sole of the foot all the way to the heel.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat three times for each foot.

See related articles:
Treating Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis
Heel and Achilles Tendon Stretch
This article and archives are available at achesandjoints.org

Heel & Achilles Tendon Stretch

Continuing my Health & Fitness Series, as published in our patient newsletter, Aches & Joints.

Following up on the Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis) article from a few weeks earlier, here is the first of a series of exercises that can help recovery from heel pain.

This is a wonderfully effective warm-up before running, going for a walk, or participating in any sports. Or just do this stretch because you want to. This stretches the Achilles tendon as well as the calf muscles. Runners especially need to do stretch these before heading out and after returning from a run too.

You don’t need to go to a health club or gym to do this. Stretch in your office or waiting in the coffee line, or even during a walk in the park.

Enjoy and Share with others. Live well!
heel achilles tendon stretch, Meg Vitter

  • When out for a walk, find a wall to lean against. Even a tree will do.
  • Stand an arms length from the wall.
  • Place the leg to be stretched about 12-18 inches behind you.
  • Keep your toes pointed forward and slightly inward.
  • Bend your arms and gradually lean towards the wall.
  • Make sure your leg is straight and the heel of your back leg is pressed to the floor.
  • Feel the stretch in the calf and heel of the back leg.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and return to starting position.
  • Repeat three times for each leg.

Stretches demonstrated by Meg Vitter of Boston, MA.


Also read:
Treating Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis
Precautions to Take Before Starting New Exercises
Article archives are available at www.AchesAndJoints.org

Man Who Moved a Mountain

Every morning, for 22 long years, a frail, diminutive man, barefoot and clad in a loin cloth, would trudge two kilometres to a hillock of solid rock and chip away at it with a hammer and chisel. Bemused onlookers thought he had lost his mind, and he was an object of great fun for village urchins. But the women of the village, young and old, admired him, for his was a labour of love.

Dasrath Manjhi was trying to clear this mountain so a road could be built leading to the nearby village with a hospital. His wife had died because he couldn’t get her to the hospital in time. This was a memorial to his wife.

Read the story from Outlook India: here

Introducing Aches & Joints: A health blog

Subscribe and stay abreast of the latest in Orthopaedic knowledge, with exercise tips to keep you healthy and moving. And all this while blogging! Really! Not Kidding!

While there is no dearth of blogs on travel (guilty), photography (guilty), food (guilty) and other less than ennobling interests (guilty, again), there is a severe paucity of good health care related information.

With my Orthopaedic knowledge base, I started a work-related Newsletter with a mission to, “distill, interpret and translate the latest orthopaedic knowledge for the general reader.” Its appropriately called, Aches & Joints.

For accurate information, we recruited Orthopaedic Surgeons at the front lines of clinical medicine, to contribute on the latest topics of interest. We recruited certified trainers to demonstrate exercises to overcome our aches and keep us going.

For a reputable founding based on oversight and peer-review, we brought together an Editorial Board. After everyone’s blessings, we published the first issue in early May (2007). These were placed in our Orthopaedic Clinical Waiting areas. The Newsletter has been a big hit, and is flying off the racks. Sidebar – About 60,000 patients visit our busy clinics each year!

Here is a sneak preview of a blog I developed, populated by articles from the Newsletter: Aches & Joints www.achesandjoints.com We will announce this to our patients in about 2 weeks when we release the second issue of A&J. It is still called “beta” as I plan on tweaking the overall design. Check out the features and exercises. Leave comments and let me know what you think of the articles and the style.

Yoga: For the everyday stress of life

The Financial Times (London) reports that yoga is gaining acceptance beyond India's middle class. The physical and mental benefits of yoga are no longer exclusive to the well off, but are now being enjoyed by the aam janta.

Ashok Leyland has included yoga in the training curriculum for truck drivers, helping them better cope with the stress of driving on India's roads. Also makes for safer driving for the rest of us.

According to the FT, the Indian Armed Services offers yoga training to soldiers posted at high altitudes in the mountains of Kashmir and naval officers who man submarines.

The Army’s 10-year research program concluded “that soldiers who did yoga along with conventional physical training showed better physiological responses than those receiving only routine training. Participants with yoga training maintained stability under stress and quickly returned to an equilibrium state.”

I started yoga about a month ago and it has definitely helped me better control my emotions and take things in stride. Of course, while I don't have to deal with road rage, or the stress of keeping our borders safe, dealing with the PC at work and e-mails is plenty stressful.

Yoga should be made mandatory in all schools, if it isn't already! As a bonus, it could get kids off their gameboys, inculcate healthy lifestyles, and tackle weight gain and its associated pathologies of heart disease and diabetes!

Oommmmmmmm!

First Book! First Look!

This was five years in the making! Lots of ups and downs! There were times I thought it would never see the light of day. But my co-editors were always there to pick me up, dust my knees and pat my shoulder. “You can do it!” M always reminded me. And so I persevered, and finally it is here.

When I saw the package from the Publisher, it was actually anticlimactic. Yes! I was glad to finally hold the tome. But it represented the culmination, the end of one project; and an opportunity to focus on another. I celebrate the confidence I gained, from assembling nearly 30 leading groups from around the world to contribute. The confidence of bringing such an undertaking to completion. I celebrate the friendships I nurtured, the friends I did not let down. A time to celebrate the long journey ahead, time to energize myself for the next push.

I don't expect you to rush out and buy a copy. It's expensive! At 783 pages, it will weigh your bag down considerably, but will look impressive on your book shelf. If you are trying to impress your boyfriend/girlfriend, this can certainly be an ice-breaker. If you are considering curling up with this book and a blanket, well … I strongly recommend against it. The first page will put you to sleep and the book falling on our face can hurt you! I suggest propping it up on a heavy table and resting your chin on a pillow. A particularly safe posture, especially when falling asleep is assured. There is no plot really, and the characters are lifeless. The writing is esoteric and dense. Very few pictures and importantly, there is no sex! So, there you go! Ask your doctor or a engineering/medical school library to get a copy!

Find more details at this random site.

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