• Annabel Francis

Talking Yoga with The Sports Physio

Part 1: Talking Yoga with The Sports Physio

I managed to catch up with childhood friend and sometimes controversial physio Adam Meakins recently, to talk about two of my favourite things, yoga and running, from the perspective of a medical professional. As my social media feed and studies fill with more strength & movement based posts and articles and far less photos of extremely flexible instagram-pretty yoga poses and 'correct alignment' articles, I wanted to explore the overlap between yoga and physical activity. Adam too has become aware of this cross-over, he spoke of Jenni Rawlings and of course his NAF podcast partner Greg Lehman's biomechanics expertise has been included in workshops and trainings with Jules Mitchell, Kathryn Bruni-Young and many more. Having not seen Adam for several years we had a lot to catch up on, so I’ve broken our conversation down into 2 separate reads with Part 1 mainly focused on the physical aspect of yoga. Part 2 includes our conversation around running, yoga and pain science. I’ve transcribed our chat with some editing to keep it in a more readable format and if you’re familiar with Adam’s NAF podcasts, you may be surprised to hear that he was remarkably well behaved with only a couple of words needing the *!@  treatment!

Annabel: I wanted to talk about elements of the yoga and physio/ movement science worlds which seem to have more overlap these days as many yoga teachers explore the physical practice with influences from a more modern perspective.  I also want to delve into some of the conversations around pain, injury and dare I say, stretching.

Adam: Stretching is very controversial.

Annabel: Absolutely, and we’ll come back to that! Firstly, I have had a number of people come to me who have been recommended they try yoga by their GP or physio, for a bad back, sore shoulder etc. What are your thoughts on this given the myriad styles of yoga out there now?

Adam: When people have pain that’s like a back pain, that’s got nothing serious or sinister behind it, they’ve been screened, they’ve been assessed by a medical professional, the best advice is to go and move, and sometimes moving differently is exactly what somebody needs. So doing something like yoga which they haven’t done before can be beneficial for them. I don’t think there needs to be any one particular type of movement that is more beneficial than others so often people say ‘should I do pilates or should I do yoga’, that’s a common question I get a lot of the time, a lot of comparisons between the two. What’s better? Is pilates better or is yoga better? I’m like, it’s just different ways of moving.

Annabel: Yes, yoga and pilates are so intermingled in terms of the movements nowadays.

Adam: Different philosophies, different theories about what is happening when moving, but I say to people, it’s just movement. It’s just movement in a controlled way and it’s not that one is better than the other, it’s just different. It’s horses for courses. Some people prefer this particular way of moving and some prefer that way of movement. You have to find what suits the individual. My simple approach nowadays is that the more I’ve read, the more I’ve learned, the more I’ve realised that there’s no one particular way of moving that’s better than another. And as much as that kicks me in the biases because my belief is everybody just needs to get stronger, and I very much tried to instil resistance t