I want to introduce all of you to an exceptional physical therapist, a movement specialist, and a biomechanical, anatomical wonder: my brother John Frank (who is just one of my brothers because we’re triplets)!
Physical therapy is a satisfying vocation because they get to spend a lot of time with the people we help and their main function is to educate – which also means they have to be constantly educating themselves.
And if there’s one person I’ve learned the most from, it’s definitely John!
Since people often send me questions about yoga, today I ask John these questions so we can get a physical therapist’s perspective on various aspects of yoga and movement. And if you have any questions, feel free to send me a DM on Instagram (@lara.heimann).
What’s up with deep forward folds?
John says, “It’s a mechanism for herniating your disc.”
I don’t teach them in my practice and I suggest you avoid them, especially while sitting. Plus, they’re boring! If you think it feels good, that’s because you’re stretching out other stuff, like your fascia, and there are healthier ways to do that. As John says, “A temporary feel good doesn’t necessarily mean good for you.”
How do you get more improved body awareness, other than yoga?
“It’s very tricky,” John says. Your posture adapts to how you move (or don’t) and it starts to feel normal. But for the most part, external cues are better than internal cues. “If you overthink what’s happening in your body … your body is not good at getting those cues.”
So if you’re running, for instance, don’t focus on what you want your body to be doing. Instead, let your nervous system do most of the work and, if you have to focus on something, listen for a noise when your foot hits the ground and adjust until it’s not a loud thud.
It can even be as easy as putting a sticky note at your desk reminding you to straighten your posture. The goal is to just bring awareness without overthinking things!
Besides running, what movements does John enjoy? What would he suggest for himself or other people?
“A variety of movement is good, but everyone should be doing their equivalent of a deep squat … because everyone squats, whether you know it or not!”
There’s also walking – “an underrated activity.” We were born to walk, plus it’s just a pleasant thing to do!
And it’s a little bit of a cop out, but he’s my brother so I’ll allow it: incorporate a variety of movement. Have fun, play games, whatever. Just do different activities!