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Updated: July 17, 2010 21:20 IST

Stretch your way to health

Rakhee Mohan
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Dr. Ali Irani, former physiotherapist of the Indian cricket team.
The Hindu Dr. Ali Irani, former physiotherapist of the Indian cricket team.

Physiotherapy, according to Ali Irani, consultant physiotherapist, Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai and President of the Indian Association of Physiotherapists, has been around since the time of Hippocrates.”

Having started out in the 70's with research into sports medicine, he found his true calling when he toured with the Indian cricket team in 1986 as their official physiotherapist. “I remember how I had to convince the team on the primary necessity of stretching, which had to be included in all their exercise schedules – pre and post.”

This is because Dr. Ali believes in prevention – where it's all about reducing the chances of injury and raising the chances of recovery. Since physiotherapy deals with joints, ligaments, muscles, flexibility and movements, it has gone far beyond after trauma care to include geriatrics, occupational modifications and rural healthcare. Dr. Ali puts it as care “from womb to tomb.” This is because right from pre- and post-natal care for the mother and then for the child, physiotherapy helps you gain your posture and confidence.

It's even got the green signal from the film industry. Now physiotherapists actually accompany actors who are interested in doing their own stunts to locations (Don and Lakshya)!

Says Dr. Ali: “To solve mechanical problems, you need mechanical solutions. Physiotherapy is a drugless therapy that goes to the root cause of all your aches and pains – bad posture. Get your spinal posture right and half the problems vanish. That's why I always say that a physician can add years to your life but physiotherapy adds life to your years!” With occupational hazards rising by the day, Dr. Ali believes that it just needs simple corrective measures to be able to rise up and shine. Giving an example in the occupational arena, Dr. Ali says, “More than a 1000 women worked in a small scale industry. Their job was to sift materials, and they acquired spinal problems. When we went there, we changed the system, put up a desk and better lighting. So no more bending and stress. This achieved business benefits too – 12 per cent production increase and a dip in absenteeism. This is simple but effective corrective measures.”

Quick Fit Tips

In an age where we are plagued by opposites – super fit people who are super conscious of their looks and health and the lethargic lot who “buys their problems to spend money to lose it,” it is essential for one to take the middle path to fitness and health. Here are a few tips that Dr. Ali shares with us…

Be active: Movements are what makes your joints and muscles healthy; so move and be active as much as possible.

Swim: Dr. Ali favors swimming over any other form of exercise (even hitting the gym since a wrong push or pull can harm muscles). “Swimming makes you use your entire body mass and muscles and you attain the perfect posture. Swim for at least 40 minutes.”

Breath: Breathe long. We should practise breathing exercises to advance our lung capacity.

Balanced calorie intake: “Have breakfast alone, have lunch with a friend and dinner with an enemy.” This is what Dr. Ali advises so that you go really light on dinner and have a gap of three hours before you sign off for the day. Make sure you get the percentages balanced too – just five per cent fat and 15 per cent protein.

Stretch your way to health: Always remember to stretch during pre-and post-physical activity.

Mediate and practice Yoga

Head above your shoulders: Maintain the correct posture. It's not for nothing that the adage head above your shoulders was made. Dr. Ali says that stooping or hunching is what causes harmful spinal modifications. Stand and stretch your body back to its straight position. Now what Dr. Ali Irani looks forward to is for physiotherapists is to get a council installed so that regulatory mechanisms can be put forward. Working towards this, he had recently attended a physiotherapists' workshop held in the city by the Kerala Association of Physiotherapists.

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