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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.

www.proyogatherapy.org

www.gingergarner.com

www.physioyoga.ca

"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!

Brandis

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 Brandis@bakertobaypt.com 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!

Brandis

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