Yoga Isn’t Only About Flexibility

At the beginning of March I attended a Professional Yoga Therapy Course, which taught me about medical therapeutic yoga. I honestly was a little intimidated when I arrived. Many of my colleagues at the course, although physical therapists, are also registered yoga teachers. Deep down I thought, "what am I doing here, I can barely touch my toes!” Years ago I consistently took yoga classes and struggled to find a strengthening component because it seemed like it was all about flexibility (which was fine then because I had more of it at the time). Over the last few years though I’ve noticed my body feeling tighter, less flexible, but I still wanted the strengthening component within a class. There are a lot of wonderful yoga classes and instructors out there, but I didn’t ever find one that resonated with me and what I wanted out of a class.. Strengthening and flexibility. I’ve also worked with so many patients who have been injured in a class or want to take a class but feel they are not “flexible enough”.

If you are looking for any of the previously mentioned, please continue reading as this is for you!

Yoga, as I was taught it, is about quality of movement, use of muscles, function, safety when performing poses, strength, and last, but not least, flexibility. What's ironic is not once during the class did we do "a hamstring stretch" but by the end of the week I was able to more comfortably move through my spine, touch my toes, and felt stronger than I had in a long time. My chronic neck and thumb pain had resolved and although I could feel my weaknesses, I could also feel my strengths and learned how to utilize them to heal heal myself. 

I am excited to be able to bring what I learned to all of you. You do not need to be a “yogi” to be successful in yoga and reap the benefits of it. I would say that yoga is for anyone who wants to move better throughout his or her daily life. It’s for someone who wants to feel strong in what they do and medical therapeutic yoga is one tool that can be used to help you achieve those goals. It's appropriate for a person who already practices yoga, for someone who would like to but doesn't feel comfortable going to a class, or for someone who wants physical therapy due to an injury. We can use yoga as a tool to evaluate, assess and treat to get you back to doing all of the things that you love. I'll be sharing more over the next few weeks so stay tune for more blogs and videos of exercises you can start to do to feel better in your own life.

I so enjoyed the opportunity to be able to learn from Ginger Garner, a physical therapist and RYT who created the Professional Yoga Therapy Institute as well as Shelly Prosko, B.Sc. PT, PYT, CPI.

Here are some links to learn more about the Professional Yoga Therapy Institute, Ginger Garner, and Shelly Prosko, all of which are leading the way in reforming healthcare, both in how assess, treat, and utilize medical therapeutic yoga.

Want to improve your run? Read on for 3 simple steps you can implement now!

1.     Hydrate. You’ve heard this time and again but that’s because it is true! Making sure you are hydrated before a run can improve your run. Dehydration can cause fatigue and muscle cramping, which are the last two things you want to feel when heading out for your daily run. So increase your water intake, even by 1 glass a day. You will feel better and your body will thank you for it!

2.     Rotate. This might be new to some, but the mechanics of how we run (and walk for that matter) include trunk rotation. If your upper back is tight and lacking that motion, this can lead to injury and insufficient oxygen intake. Our bodies need this motion not only to move properly and prevent injury, but for adequate oxygenation which fuels our cells affecting our muscles and giving us energy.  

Try this: Throughout the day, when seated in a chair, place your right hand on the outside of your left leg and rotate your body to the left using your arms to assist you. Once at the end of your motion (remember you should not feel any pain), take 3 deep breaths focusing on letting the air fill up the right side of your lungs; repeat to the opposite side. Do not hinge at your low back. Increasing this motion will improve your running and help prevent back pain.

3.     Increase your cadence. Research has shown that if you are having leg pain (i.e. knee pain, the dreaded IT Band pain, ankle pain), increasing your cadence by shortening your step length may be beneficial. A shorter step length can result in less force on your joints, which can help treat or prevent injury as well as increasing your efficiency!

If you find you are having any difficulty with your runs and you've tried the above suggestions, it may be time to seek out the care of a professional. Remember it's always easier to address an issue earlier than later.

Questions? Feel free to contact me at: I'm always happy to help.

I hope you enjoy your runs in this beautiful weather! Until next time!



"No Pain, No Gain"…. Right?

Have you ever heard the phrase “No Pain No Gain”? I’ve worked with thousands of patients over the years and have heard many comment to me “You know what they say, no pain no gain… right?” The truth is I cringe every time I hear this comment as it actually only applies in very specific circumstances.

I often tell people if it “hurts so good”, or is uncomfortable but tolerable and you’re not holding your breath, then what you are doing is most likely safe to proceed with. But, in my experience, if someone is holding their breath and counting the seconds until the exercise, stretch, or motion is over, then it is too intense! Holding our breath because something hurts can lead to tensing of muscles you want to relax or not use during an exercise, injury and other situations including passing out!

So the next time you are working out, doing something physical or working with a trainer, physical therapist, etc., remember that many times “No Pain, No Gain” can actually lead to “More Pain, Less Gain”. Listen to your body. If you are unsure if you should be feeling what you are feeling, ask the person you are working with or seek out a consultation to learn more about if what you are doing is safe and how to be effective, efficient and successful in your exercise routine! 

Have a wonderful weekend!


What is all this fuss about foam rolling?

I recently taught a foam rolling class and it was filled with individuals who either owned a foam roller but had no idea how to use it or had used one in the past but found it to be too painful to use. So what is it with the foam roller and how can it benefit you?

Foam rolling is a technique used to help massage muscles using a deep tissue approach. It is meant to help relieve muscle tightness and soreness allowing  for  improved tissue mobility and decreased pain. There are many different densities of foam rollers and each one will have a slightly different effect on your tissues, depending on how deeply you want / need to massage your muscles. Less density, or a softer foam roller, is often most appropriate for those new to rolling vs a higher density foam roller will provide the deeper tissue work that is sometimes too intense initially. Remember, foam rolling will be uncomfortable but not so much so that you are gritting your teeth, waiting for it to be over with! If that is happening, decrease the amount of pressure you are applying and take slow, deep breaths as you roll through some of those tissues that are more sensitive than others. 

Want to learn more? Foam Rolling 101 will be held at Joy of Pilates on Wednesday, March 18th at 4:35pm. This presentation will talk more in depth about foam rolling and be filled with techniques to help you relieve muscle tension from head to toe! Please bring a foam roller if you have one, otherwise there will be some available for use. Please RSVP to Cost is $20.00. 

Exciting Announcement!

Baker To Bay is excited to announce that services will now be offered at Joy of Pilates, 2130 Grant Street in Bellingham! Services will continue to be offered at your location of choice and I look forward to serving you, be it in your home or a relaxing treatment environment. Call or email today to schedule your visit!

Have a wonderful day!


How does my breathing affect my shoulder?!​

Did you know one of the top 5 most common injuries for people with active, outdoor lifestyles is to the shoulder? Have you ever wondered how to build stability while maintaining mobility in your shoulder to prevent or treat injury?  Keep reading for not so common answers to very common questions!

Everyday we move our shoulders repeatedly in multiple directions. Movement occurs not only at your shoulder itself, but also at many joints throughout the shoulder complex as well as into your rib cage and spine. A person's shoulder is built for mobility based on the orientation of your true shoulder joint, so it is important to make sure that you build strength in your rotator cuff muscles. These are the primary muscles that support your shoulder, in addition to the surrounding tissues that also attach in and around that area.

 Although the shoulder has a significant amount of movement, any restriction throughout the shoulder joints can lead to injury of the muscles or jointThere is also an important piece of the puzzle that often gets missed. If your rib cage and spine are tight, then this can directly affect your shoulder mobility which in turn affects your ability to build strength. 

Our bodies are meant to function in an optimal position with good posture and alignment. Every time you move your arm overhead, you naturally should have trunk movement. If the tissues that surround your rib cage or the rib cage itself is tight, then that restriction can lead to problems elsewhere including your shoulder.

If you have limited shoulder motion in any direction, the first place to look is at how you're breathing. Are you breathing with your neck muscles or are you able to take slow deep breaths, which result in expansion and collapsing of your rib cage? Breathing with your neck muscles can lead to tightness and pain not only in your neck, but also down into your shoulder. The action of taking slow, deep breaths and feeling your lower rib cage collapse and expand allows for good rib cage mobility and prevention of tightness. Can you blow up a balloon? The only way you can blow up a balloon is to use your diaphragm! The use of your diaphragm, which attaches at the lower part of your rib cage is what keeps your trunk mobile, contributing to optimal movement in your shoulder. Once you have this, performing exercises that stabilize your shoulder complex will result in better outcomes and optimal strength!

Have a great day and take a moment to breath deeply. Your body will thank you for it!

Brandis Gunderson, MPT

Pedaling For Parkinson's

I am so excited to blog today about the Pedaling For Parkinson's Program, recently started at the local Whatcom YMCA. For those who haven't heard of Pedaling For Parkinsons (PFP), I'm going to take this opportunity to give you more information about the program and also tell you where you can find additional info, should you want to learn more or participate and find a program near you. 

In 2003, Dr. Jay Alberts, a neuroscientist at the Cleveland Clinic, was biking across Iowa in RAGBRAI with several friends and one of their wives who has PD. The couple started out biking on a tandem, which proved to be a disaster. So, Dr. Alberts took his friends' place at the front of the tandem bike, cycling at his usual cadence of 80-90 revolutions per minute.  After several days, his friends' wife stated she no longer felt as if she had PD and had noticed a significant improvement in her handwriting which had been affected by Parkinson's. At that moment, Dr. Alberts decided to research why, after intense cycling, this woman had a significant decrease in her PD symptoms.

In his research, he found that biking for 1 hour a day (10 minutes warm up, 40 minutes cycling at cadence, and 10 minutes cool down), 3 times per week at a cadence of 80-90 revolutions per minute can significantly decrease a PD patient's symptoms by 35%!  Hence, the PFP Program was founded and is hosted at YMCA's and other facilities throughout the country. 

When I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2011, I had the privilege of meeting Nan Little and John Carlin, both with PD and active participants in the PFP Program. Both have seen and felt the results of participating in this program consistently. They told me stories of how this exercise regime helped them to manage their symptoms and keep them active in their lives. 

After learning about this program, I contacted the local YMCA to see if they had a program, such as this because so many know nothing of this valuable form of exercise that can give hope to so many who are diagnosed with PD and feel so hopeless. 

I spoke with Tammy Bennett, Healthy Living Director at the YMCA who stated at that time they did not have a program. However, Tammy pursued finding out more about it and as of May 1, 2014 there is officially a PFP at the local YMCA! I encourage you or if someone you know has Parkinson's to look into participating in this program. PFP is typically done on a stationary or tandem bike, inside or outside, with a goal of achieving a consistent 80-90 revolutions per minute. Have no fear though if you are unable to start at this rate! The goal is to start and get moving. As you increase your strength and endurance, you will also be able to increase the cadence to a sustainable level of the 80-90rpms. I guarantee that you will see improvements! Exercise is so good for you, so get moving! If for some reason you are having difficulty getting on the bike or to comfortably cycle for that period of time, physical therapy may be able to help you so that you can begin to participate in the exercise program. 

I hope this information is helpful and if you have any questions or want to learn more information, please see the links below (also located in the Links and Resources section) or feel free to contact me at:

Have a wonderful, active and fun day!


Important Links:

Pedaling For Parkinsons:

Local Pedaling For Parkinson's Program located at the Whatcom YMCA:

Information specifically about the Whatcom PFP Program:

A great article about RAGBRAI and PFP:


Welcome To Baker To Bay Physical Therapy and Wellness

Welcome to Baker To Bay Physical Therapy and Wellness! Today I want to give you a little more information about me and why Baker To Bay is a wonderful healthcare option for you. I grew up on a dairy farm in the South Dakota and after graduating from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND I worked at several locations throughout the Midwest. My experience ranges from Lead Inpatient Orthopedic Therapist to Outpatient PT, Aquatics, Home Health, Women's Health and Pediatrics. 

In July, 2011 I had the opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa with an incredible team of men and women from around the world and it inspired me to pursue a position working as a traveling physical therapist. I loved traveling so much I decided the time was right to take the leap, pick up, and move across the country.  I took the opportunity to move to the Pacific Northwest and am here to stay!

The practice of physical therapy has evolved from a decade ago. No longer are the days of treating just the shoulder or knee, rather an integrated approach to both treating and educating. My philosophy is to treat the whole person, not just an area. Pain can be the result of trauma, chronic stresses, and repetitive motions and our bodies have an amazing ability to adapt for those issues.. Sometimes to the point where more areas of the body are involved than just one. 

A typical treatment session with me includes an initial evaluation that typically takes an hour or slightly more. This session is important because not only am I assessing your symptoms and dysfunction, but I am also initiating treatment to get you on the road to recovery. Follow up visits are based on what is found at the initial evaluation and can include a wide range of treatment modalities based on what is most appropriate for you. I am also a Reiki Master, which is a traditional Japanese technique for stress reduction, relaxation, and also promotes healing. Often our bodies are in a fight or flight response due to pain and incorporating relaxation techniques that include Reiki, deep breathing, and even meditation can help calm the body so that physical therapy treatments are more effective.

If you have any questions or are curious about if Baker To Bay is right for you, please feel free to contact me via any of the options on the Contact Page. I look forward to speaking with you soon!