Friday, 27 November 2015

Dancer Had Double Hip Surgery at 24

Most of you know I had a mini hip replacement last year. Since then, I have met quite a few women - of all ages - who do my barre class with a hip replacement or post-hip surgery of some nature.

I have been very fortunate to teach Kathryn's mum weekly and when Kathryn came to my class, my first observance was that she obviously had dance training. She is super flexible, elegant and disciplined in her moves. Her alignment and technique are so impressive! Kathryn has had a double hip surgery and she's still in her mid-20s.

The beauty of modern hip replacements is that they are for life. No need to go back for "servicing"! And you can still move like a dream. I hope you find Kathryn's story inspiring and if nothing else, that you consider your hips today and thank them for all the things you can do because they work.

Cat: Can you explain what procedures you've had done on your hips?

Kathryn: I started with a physio at a pilates studio to help strengthen my muscles.
One doctor told me I just needed strength training, another sports doctor told me I would need bolts in my hips and put me on the highest dose of Voltaren for a few weeks. 
image from
Mum wasn't happy with this, thank god, and found my current physio Amir. He suggested to get key hole surgery to tighten the damaged ligaments. My right hip was done first, and I also had to have a bit of bone shaved because it was protruding into my ligaments. And on my left, just had the tightening. 
After both surgeries, I went through 'rehab' strengthening the muscles in my bum which were extremely weak.

When did you first notice a problem and what was the process of diagnosis?

I used to dance but I stopped during year 12 (2009). I decided to take it up again the next year (2010). I initially thought the pain was just because I hadn't danced in a while but then it got to the point where I couldn't do anything without feeling pain. 

What was your fitness and activity routine like prior to surgery?

I used to dance regularly, and go to the gym on weekends. Not being able to do this was very hard. And being told by earlier doctors and physios that I would never be able to move properly again was horrible.
However when I met my surgeon, he reassured me I would get back to full function and I did :) (minus dancing)

I felt I gained a much greater appreciation for my body and my awareness of muscles and movement. Did you experience this, or were you already very aware?

I have so much more awareness of my body and what it can and can't take. Because I have shallow hip sockets which caused they think caused the damaged, I had a great deal of flexibility which I initially thought was normal. However after surgery, after them tightening my hips, it took me a while to get used to it and realise that it was more normal than what I felt before. 

Are there activities you avoid now as a result of surgery?

I avoid running (although this was part of my recovery), only because I don't like it. However the impact on concrete does effect me eventually.
I don't avoid anything I just may not go 'flat out' or to the full extent. For example, in standing lunges, that really deep bend in my hip as well as having to hold my body weight eventually impacts my hip. 
I still have to be careful and conscious of the muscles I use, because I know I still have a tendency to clench the front of my hip rather than activating my bum muscles.

Favourite places and teachers for yoga and pilates?

I go to One Hot Yoga for hot yoga, reformer pilates, and recently started hot mat pilates. All teachers there are great! 

(Cat's note: Check out One Hot Yoga!)

Favourite 3 yoga poses?

I don't do yoga as much as I used to because I'm loving reformer pilates. In pilates I love all the leg and ab stuff. 
In yoga, I like warrior 2, side plank, and pigeon pose

What would you tell anyone with a very active lifestyle (like us!) who may require this operation and feels fearful or confused about it?
It's such a scary thing to confront, especially being young. But I would recommend it to everyone, but also finding a physio and surgeon that will do what is best for you. I still have some pain sometimes, but no where near what I experienced before surgery. It's worth the few months of surgery then recovery for a future that doesn't involve a hip replacement!!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Dance Medicine: Preventing Injury & Strengthening VMO

I saw the physiotherapist yesterday and he was very impressed with the strength I've built in my VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique), the front thigh muscle that stabilises the knee. So many turn-out, straight leg lifts. It has made my abs burn like crazy to do them properly too. Bonus.
As they say though, the best cure is prevention. I don't want to put my joints at risk when I work in fitness and when I love training, teaching and the independence of free movement.
I also want to always be learning more about the body and how it works - the muscles, the bones, the brain. To that end, I have collected my tools and I want to share them with you.

Stretch and self-massage: So important when preventing an injury or just being able to move more freely, to stretch and also to massage and work into muscles that are feeling really tight. I have very tight glutes and hamstrings - especially after a couple of classes in a row. This can pull on my knee joint and also result in compensation with other muscles so that I'm feeling tense and sore.
While a foam roller is great for the ITB, I prefer a massage ball for glutes, back and feet.
My favourite way to use it is to come into a squat with my back against the wall. I place the bakball towards my mid-back and then I slowly come to standing and squat again, allowing the ball to roll up and down my spine. Eases out all those little niggles between the shoulder blades!
There are videos of how to use the bakballs for particular areas. I also take mine in the car and sit it either under my shoulder blades or into my lower back and press back into it. It presses into sore spots. If Drake or Diplo comes on, I end up doing a bit of a dance in my seat, which results in a mini massage. Recommended! 

Understand the muscles you use: Yesterday I asked my class to be curious about their bodies. I think we ought to be in wonderment every day at what we're capable of and the incredibly engineered machine that our body is! Having been through surgery and illness, I have so much appreciation for how the body wants to heal. It wants to perform. It loves movement. 
On my desk is Liane Simmel's Dance Medicine in Practice: Anatomy, Injury Prevention, Training. This is a guide to self-analysis, basic anatomy and injury prevention techniques. It also provides advice around training, nutrition and technique.
Liane Simmel is a former professional dancer who now runs her own clinic in Germany specialising in osteopathy and sports medicine. She also supervises strength and training programs for dance students and professional dancers. Dance Medicine $52.95 @ Taylor and Francis

I'll be attending to the chapters on hips and knees very closely! I'll also be continuing my VMO strengthening. Now, I have popped this video below to encourage you to work your VMO too. It not only helps with stabilising your knee but it also gives you great muscle definition in the front of the thigh (priorities?!) By the way, this is a very appealing trainer with a cool accent. You're welcome - my pleasure.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Beauty School: Cult Beauty Buys and Vitamin B

YSL Touche Eclat is a cult beauty buy worldwide. Not just a concealer in a wand shape, but a brightening pen that works wonders on tired eyes and sallow skin. Models, makeup artists, beauty editors and beauty addicts all have at least one of these magic pens. See image below for a guide to where to conceal - make sure that "teardrop" area inside the eyes is on your radar. It instantly brightens and wakes up the whole face!
Mecca Cosmetica ($59)
L'Oreal True Match Blush in Baby Blossom was a chance discovery. I won the Garance Dore x L'Oreal Beauty Box competition and it arrived along with a bunch of other goodies. It is a pale ballerina pink that I absolutely adore. So subtle and with a naturally pale complexion, this is ideal. Rather than sweeping the apples of the cheeks, it is much more flattering to take blush to the upper cheekbones and towards the upper ear.
Vitamin Grocer Australia ($24.27)

Youngblood Creme Blush in Champagne Life is oil free, cruelty free and enriched with Vitamin C and E. I tend to use this shade as a highlighter rather than a typical blush because it is so glowy. Applied to the centre of the eyelids and the cupid's bow of the lips, it gives you a gentle burst of light where the sunshine would naturally illuminate your face. Glow, my pretty, glow! ($35.20)

Dior Air Serum Foundation is a luxe buy - no doubt. Entirely worth it if you consider cost-per-wear though! This goes on and stays on (through yoga, Pump, barre and meetings) while also being non-comedogenic so no nasty spots as a result of all-day, everyday wear.
David Jones ($79)

Here's another tip. The most vital really. No matter how much makeup you have or use, unless you are caring for your skin, hair and organs by eating well and sleeping, there can be no beauty mecca for you! To paraphrase Roald Dahl. If you are smiling and joyful, sunbeams will radiate from your face and make you truly beautiful.
In addition to joy, I am taking Vitamin B# - the new super dose from Blackmores. Vitamin B3 is essential for DNA repair, energy, digestion, skin and hair strength. It can't replace a balanced, healthy diet and this is your first priority - but if you are vegan or vegetarian, you may need to find out if you're low in Vitamin B generally. Totally recommended. Blackmores ($16)

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

How to Cope With Injury and Illness When Fitness And Dance Are Your Life

Alongside death, moving house, losing a job and divorce, dealing with physical injury is considered one of the major threats to mental health.
Many, many years ago at the height of my manic hours of running, I would force myself to work through injuries to the point of being incapable of walking from my car to the kerb. I have come to a genuine appreciation of my body and what it can do now and forcing my body into a regime it can't cope with is a foreign idea to me, thank god.

For many who have a daily routine, who work in fitness or play a sport, injury can be isolating. Especially if you can't make the classes where you normally see the same people and it's a social communion that lifts your spirits.

Having strained both knees at the moment, I'm struggling with the mental and physical
consequences. I can't do my usual training routine and I've had to reduce my classes to enable recovery and healing time. Here are my coping strategies and whatever your injury, whatever impact it has on your professional or personal life, I hope these ideas help you.

1. Be sad! Don't feel like you have to puff your chest out, smile and shrug it off. You're not overreacting. This is your body and when it isn't performing as you want it to and it's even causing you pain, that IS sad. This is part of healing.

2. Get the information you need from a professional. Don't self-diagnose (oh, it's probably a twisted ankle, I think I fractured my... etc). See a physiotherapist, a doctor, a sport physiologist and diagnose exactly what the issue is. Then you can determine the best way to rehabilitate.

3. Plan your rehabilitation. Don't set exact timelines. You won't know for sure that your body will follow a set plan. But work out what you can do and what will still make you strong, flexible and able to spend time with others while not compromising your health and fitness.

3. Use the skills you have gained as an athlete, yogi, weightlifting pro in every other aspect of your life. Be strong, be determined, be committed.

4. Don't isolate yourself. Attend classes that you can participate in - even if you need to modify moves and even skip parts of.

5. See a counselor, psychologist, compassionate GP. Being able to talk about your fears, your struggles and your plans with someone who is trained to listen and support is so valuable.

As a barre instructor, I found this site fascinating. Common Dance Injuries by body area. As a hyper-extender (where I lock my knees back), I need to think about keeping flexion or a slight bend in the knees. Trying.
The following info comes from Harkness Centre for Dance Injuries.

Genu Recurvatum (Hyperextension)

" My knees extend way back, and now they’re painful."

Knee Injury Prevention Tip for Dancers

  • Strengthening the knee and hip muscles are critical to preventing overuse injuries. Strong, balanced muscles will help take strain away from the knee.
  • Stretching the knee and hip muscles are equally important in preventing overuse injuries. Stretching the quadriceps, hamstring, and hip muscles will help to make your muscles long and lean, and will reduce pull on the different knee structures.
  • Give your body time to rest and heal itself, otherwise damage can build up and cause chronic pain conditions.
  • Listen to your body! If it hurts after class, rehearsal or performance, the chances are you’ve irritated something by over-use. Ease off it, and give it time to heal, otherwise you may end up with an ‘–itis’ type overuse injury.
  • Fatigue sets in at the end of a long day of class and rehearsal. Continued strengthening of the knee and hip muscles is of the utmost importance to prevent injury when the body gets tired.
  • Use proper technique. Alignment in a pliĆ© should always be maintained such that the knee goes directly over the second toe. When the knee falls inside the second toe, it can put increased stress on structures in the ankle, knee, and hip.

Monday, 9 November 2015

My Frown Leaves Town and Microhydrodermabrasion for Flawless Skin

I have been getting Botox to my forehead frown lines for the past four years. I am careful to have enough to smooth out the lines without “freezing” my face!
As an instructor, I need some expression and it doesn’t appeal to me at all to look false or to fundamentally change my face.
I have a habit of raising my eyebrows and tensing my forehead constantly. If I’m lying in bed, I notice myself doing it before I go to sleep and first thing when I wake up. I do it when I’m at the computer, or reading, or focusing during a workout. It makes the world of difference to find myself NOT tensing and frowning without having to check in and force it!
It also makes me feel better about myself. I don’t feel any pressure from anyone else. I do it for me.

I am very fussy about who I allow to apply injections to my face. These days, a GP or the local beauty salon can advertise injectables with seemingly very little training or understanding of facial anatomy and biochemistry. Be warned – you want someone who has been practicing long enough to know their business, has a loyal clientele, proven qualifications, and someone who will explain to you what the process is, what the risks are, and what the time frame is around effects taking place then wearing off.
I go across Melbourne to Elwood to see Michael Clague at Facelove. Not only is he exceptionally skilled and experienced (conducting training on cosmetic injectables around Australia), but he is funny, friendly and genuinely loves his work. He understands that I don’t want to look frozen or like the sixth Kardashian sister! I just want to smooth out the forehead creases. I have 12 units of Botox, after which it takes about a week before I notice I’m not tensing and frowning.
Facelove is a small salon located on Glenhuntly Road. There is parking galore around the side streets and it is in a little haven back from the shops and upstairs. Unlike another centre I’ve been to, there is no video running that tells you all the things you could and should do to your face and body! There is a deep respect here for working with what you want and what you don’t want. Having said that, Michael has a portfolio of his work to give an indication of what results can be expected from treating different areas of the face whether with fillers or anti-wrinkle injections.
He is all about natural looking results. You can check out pictures of his clients and there’s also a guide that answers the most common questions.
If you’re more about skin treatments, Facelove also does IPLPhotorejuvenation, laser hair removal, and microhydrodermabrasion (SO SO SO GOOD! Joni B does it - see picture) .
The celebrities are all about their lips and one of the most popular treatments is lip augmentation. Mike insists on balance, symmetry and ensuring that there is no “overtreatment” and falsity about the look. There is a good indication of what to expect on the Facelove website. It’s not cheap, but it does last 9 – 12 months and if it makes you feel more confident and you’ve done your research and decided this is what you want, then make sure you book in with someone who you trust.
Now, I do have to admit I haven’t ever watched The Batchelor (which might make me the ONLY person in Melbourne!) but I know Facelove treat Joni and she is absolutely gorgeous so I’ll have what she’s having! As a major fan of microdermabrasion, my next appointment is the 7 step microdermabrasiontreatment 

Disclaimer! A doctor should always check that you are medically fit for this treatment.

You can book online 
Or call 1300 458 491

Thursday, 5 November 2015

DIY Manicure and Pedicure - Hello Yellow!

I know some people love getting their manicure and pedicure done in a salon, but it's just not for me. I'm not a fan of making small talk or sitting around being forced to listen to other people making small talk!
I also like throwing on a back-to-back TV series for binge watching, or putting on a long, intriguing podcast episode and flicking through the latest international Vogue editions while I'm waiting for my nails to dry.
I also don't mind getting into a headstand during nail drying time. Not something you'll see encouraged in your suburban nail salon.

Having said that, I only discovered CND through a salon and it is awesome. Along with OPI and Orly, I have a new go-to nailpolish label.

I managed the long, difficult task of choosing my colours (it had to be Vinylux because it promises to stay the distance: one week, no chips...your time starts now.)
No base required. The colour coat goes on, followed by the Weekly Top Coat and you're all clear to go lift weights, exfoliate like a madwoman, peel oranges, garden and grab stuff without needing to remove and reapply only days later. Phew.

Because life is too short for boring nails, I went with Bicycle Yellow and Sultry Sunset.

Also, because life is too short to smell like anything other than fruit and spices and flowers, I couldn't skip the wash and moisturiser in Black Cherry and Nutmeg. This is my full home spa experience after all!

I've got the 100% soy candle burning (Lux 400, made in Victoria!), the latest Vogue Italia (hey, it's free! My local library recognises a fashionista magazine addict and indulges me), my nail polish remover, Nurse Jackie Season 6 and a big plunger of coffee. And some free carpet space for headstand. Just in case.

If you are not able to paint inside the lines, or you want to be pampered, you can find a CND Spa via their site.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

November Reads

I know it's low-tech, old school to still love reading things that don't require an "On" button. I think it's entirely healthy and necessary to get your eyeballs off a screen and embrace the tactile nature of books. Especially when they are as weighty and beautiful as Dr Lisa Cooper's ode to her floral business and lifestyle, The Flowers. I am also inspired and motivated by 2,100 Asanas. What would Mr Iyengar say? I imagine he'd do them all with joy and energy, ultimately.
Thrown into the mix is some fiction. Time spent in another parallel universe is excellent for the mind and spirit. Even if it is a brain-twisting, dark mystery. Here's my November picks (and they also make great Christmas presents. Bonus.)
Sydney florist Dr Lisa Cooper has compiled a beautiful collection of photos and stories from the farms where she sources her flowers through to her unique bouquets. We see the studio, the shop, the growers. Love the stories of the family, friends, artists and florists who have inspired her. The Flowers by Dr Lisa Cooper (Murdoch Books)
Daniel Lacerda (Mr. Yoga) has compiled the complete 2,100 Asanas in this fabulous tome. Each pose is performed in photographs with instruction, the English and Sanskrit names and a guide to modifications. Especially inspiring is the inclusion of the recommended Drishti (focus in the pose) and the chakras affected. The book breaks the poses into 8 categories: standing, seated, core, quadruped, backbends, inversions, prone, and supine, then from the basic to the challenging. 2,100 Asanas The Complete Yoga Poses by Daniel Lacerda (Murdoch Books)
An account of the introduction of Buddhist Art across Asia, especially in India. Author, Dr A. S. Bhalla delves into the architecture and meaning behind monasteries, statues, design features that reflect the spirituality and faith of Buddhist artists and monks as their work appears in different forms of Buddhist art (architecture, sculpture and painting) from Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in South Asia to Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand in Southeast Asia, and China, Japan and South Korea in East Asia. Beautiful illustrations of temples, paintings and sculptures. If you have any interest in the Asian landscape, Buddhism or architecture, do this. Buddhist Art in Asia by A.S Bhalla (Austin Macauley Publishing)
Carrie Brownstein, guitarist of punk-indie trio Sleater-Kinney, is a natural writer and author. I suspected as much, being a fan of Portlandia, which she co-writes with the equally hilarious Fred Armisen. I have been guilty of lumping Sleater-Kinney with the riot grrrl movement of the 90s, but in fact this label rubs Brownstein the wrong way and years upon years of journalists referring to the "all girl" band or asking what it's like to have no men in the band has made her quite prickly about that definition. Fair enough. Sleater-Kinney were a great band - whatever the gender! This is a sometimes uncomfortable delve into family, the sacrifices made for creative endeavours and the reality of life on the road. And seriously, I thought my family were weird, but I'm outrivalled here. Between her runaway anorexic mum and her gay dad, Brownstein makes a case that if you're a born creative and you run on passion, intensity and a bit of crazy, there's a tribe of people out there for you. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein (Hachette Publishing)

Denise Payne: Fearlessness And Mercy

In the 1970s, as a teenager, Denise Payne was introduced to Kundalini Yoga by her teacher Sat Jiwan Singh. It became more than “a life...