BBPT Health Tip: Happy Baby Yoga Pose

Fiona McMahon PT, DPT

Guys! This is one of my favorite stretches ever. Both for myself personally and also for my patients. It’s called the happy baby pose, which comes from yoga. I mean, how cute is that. If you’ve ever seen a baby try and stick his feet in his mouth you know where the name comes from. This stretch is awesome because it stretches a ton of muscles at once, even the pelvic floor. It is an integral part of my stretching routine and I hope it becomes part of yours.

Muscles involved: Hamstrings, glute (butt) muscles, pelvic floor,

Stretch Type: Static: Best if performed after workouts on warm muscles. Exercise caution if stretching cold muscle, because unwarmed muscle doesn’t stretch as well as warmed up muscles.

Caution: If you feel pinching in your hips or pressure or discomfort under your kneecap, move your hand position to back of the thighs. If you still feel pain while attempting this modification, it is definitely time for a physical therapy appointment.

As always: No stretch should ever be painful. If a stretch is painful, stop and consult your physical therapist for modifications.

Directions: Lying on your back, grip your feet on the outside of your feet and bend your knees up towards your armpits. If this is too difficult, grasp your legs at the calves. Make sure that your neck is relaxed and hold for 60-90 seconds and repeat. Add deep breathing to enhance the relaxation. Enjoy!

 

Check out our student showing off her great happy baby pose!

BBPT Health Tip: Adding Pelvic Floor Relaxation to Deep Breathing

Amy Stein DPT, PT and Fiona McMahon DPT, PT

 

bookhppThis blog contains information adapted from Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein. If you are interested in learning more about pelvic floor exercises you can do on your own, please visit http://www.healpelvicpain.com/ , http://amzn.to/2ioSz2J, or visit us at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy in New York City to get your copy today.

 

In an earlier post we discussed the positive benefits of adding diaphragmatic breathing to your routine to reduce stress. If you missed it, check it out here .

But why not go a step further. Did you know that you can add pelvic floor drops to your breathing routine to help relax a tight and painful pelvic floor.

 

What is a pelvic floor drop?

A pelvic floor drop is the relaxation of the muscles of the pelvic floor. It is like that feeling you have when you can finally relax the muscle in between your legs after holding urine in for a long time. It’s a great feeling of relaxation and here’s how you can mimic it when you don’t have to go.

 

But How do I do it?

 

  • Step 1: Get comfortable. Sit, stand, lay down, whatever suits you, relax your body and close your eyes
  • Step 2: Breathe deep. Inhale between 3 and 5 seconds
  • Step 3: Exhale. Exhale slowly, 5-6 seconds. As you exhale imagine your breath gently placing pressure on your pelvic floor into relaxation. Don’t push or strain.

Like diaphragmatic breathing, you can use this technique throughout the day to help reduce stress and pain in the pelvic floor. Happy breathing!

BBPT Health Tip: Sleep Better

luna-moon-and-stars1

Fiona McMahon DPT

Anyone who has had or knows someone with a newborn knows how much sleep or lack thereof, can affect your health, comfort, and emotional well being. Here at BBPT, we see first hand how nights or even just a night of poor sleep can affect our patients’ symptoms from aches and pains, to constipation, to any chronic or acute pain condition and many more. Disrupted sleep is often the first thing we try to tackle in physical therapy because it is so integral to our patients’ health and recovery. Let’s explore some easy tips here:

Cut the screen time: There’s multiple reasons to do this. Incoming messages and news can jar us out of the relaxation we need to fall asleep. It has also been shown that the light emitted from our electronic devices can affect our sleep hormones making it harder to go to sleep.

Keep your bedroom dark: Lights emitted from chargers, light from outside can keep you awake.

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake: Both affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep

Keep your room cool: Your body cools as you sleep. A room that is too hot may prevent this. Keep your room around 65 degrees

Manage your aches and pains: Pain keeps you up at night. If an orthopedic condition like a shoulder injury is keeping you up at night, visit a physical therapist who can not only treat your injury, but allow you to find a comfortable sleeping position while you heal.

Manage your anxiety: So many of us suffer with anxiety and there are many ways to deal with it. From meditation, to deep breathing (include hyperlink), to restorative yogaand meditation, to mental health therapy, there is something that can help. Take the time to find what works for you.

Sources

https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/see.php. Accessed: November 30, 2016

BBPT Health Tip: Diaphragmatic Breathing

just-breathe-in-cloudsFiona McMahon DPT, PT

WE LOVE DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING! We do, we really do and we hope you will too. What is diaphragmatic breathing you ask? Diaphragmatic breathing is a form of deep breathing where you breath deeply into your stomach. As you breath in, you will actually see your belly extend and get bigger, and as you breath out, your belly will return to it’s old spot. It’s not like our typical breathing patterns where we breath from the chest; it is a much more deep and deliberate breath.

Why We love Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing accomplishes a lot in the body. First of all, it supplies the body with a large dose of oxygen, which is pretty obvious, but it is a much more robust breath than a simple chest breath.

Diaphragmatic breathing also works wonders on the tissues of both the abdomen and the pelvic floor. By taking a big diaphragmatic breath in, the diaphragm lowers and provides a gentle stretch to the tissues and organs of the belly as well as the pelvic floor. As you breath in you are actually providing a nice stretch to the pelvic floor.

Deep breaths can also calm down the nervous system and allow you to better relax. When you are more relaxed your body can attend to the day to day tasks such as digestion and healing. It really is amazing what some deep breaths can do.

How to breathe diaphragmatically

Start off by putting one hand on your chest, at about the area of your breastbone. Place the other hand on your stomach. You can do diaphragmatic breathing just about anywhere, so get in a position that is comfortable for you. Start by slowly breathing in. In order to tell if you are using your diaphragm, you should feel the hand on your stomach move more than the hand on your chest. As you breath in, bring your awareness to your ribs and feel them expand out to the side and back.  Finish by slowly breathing out. The out breather should be longer than the inhale. It is really that easy.

How does one actually use diaphragmatic breathing?

Really you can use it in anyway you need too. Some people find it tremendously helpful to do 10 diaphragmatic breaths every hour, while others employ deep breathing techniques in times of stress or pain. The important thing about diaphragmatic breathing, or any exercise for that matter is consistency. Try to at least get in 20 deep breaths a day.

Stress Busters!

By Riva Preil

Believe it or not, relaxation is within reach. Before spending large sums of money on expensive massages or spa treatments, I encourage you to try the following user-friendly, at home strategies…

1. Designate personal “you” time at least three times per week for half an hour each. Take advantage of this time to engage in activities that are geared solely and exclusively to…YOU! For example, read a book, play a musical instrument, write a letter, or watch an entertaining (preferably humorous) television show or movie. Laughter works wonders for our central nervous system and muscles!

2. Take a nice walk in the park.  Both a nice languid stroll as well as a brisk power walk will improve blood flow and help reduce stress.

3. Hot baths work wonders. Fill your tub or Jacuzzi, light the candles, power up the music (highly recommended is Pandora’s relaxation station!), power down your iPhone, and sink down into the water. Allow the heat to suffuse your body until you can physically feel yourself relaxing. Empty your mind. Listen only to the music, not that to-do list in your head.  (If you are having trouble turning down the volume of that voice shouting out your to-do list, I recommend keeping a pen and paper nearby.  Jot down anything you are afraid of forgetting. Putting it on paper will “permit you to let go.”  It is recorded in a safe place and you can return to it LATER.  This will allow you to live the here and now, the PRESENT, in a more relaxed state.)

4. After your bath, stretch the warmth with a cup of tea- try chamomile or mint, which calm the stomach, or green tea, which tames the body’s free radicals.

5. Dress in loose fitting clothing- tight clothing can increase skin irritations and can decrease blood flow.

6. Adjust your sitting surface- find a chair or cushion to help alleviate tailbone and or perineal pain.  Search on the internet for “sitting cushions”- many are designed with cut outs to decrease pressure to areas prone to irritation.

7. If Pilates or spinning is your preferred exercise of choice, try substituting a relaxing Yoga class or home DVD instead.  The stretches combined with deep breathing have an extremely calming effect on the body.

8. Last but not least, many people find meditation to be a wonderful stress reduction technique. There are many books, tapes, and online courses that teach the right way to perform meditation. Once you learn how to properly meditate, it’s a great way to gain a sense of calm and stability that lasts. And, like deep breathing, it’s something you can do anywhere, anytime for a few minutes to get a quick hit of relaxation.

Don’t you feel more relaxed already?  Please enjoy any and all of these techniques, and may your body reap the relaxation benefits!

(Adapted from Amy Stein’s Heal Pelvic Pain)

Pilates: Year in Review

By Denise Vidal

This time of year is filled with family, friends, good food, and lots of laughter. However, with all of the goodness that the holidays bring, there can also be a lot of stress and anxiety that come with the season.  To combat these stressors, take a moment for yourself to review some of the Pilates exercises that we have done thus far. Whether you choose to focus on your breath, mobilize your spine, or stabilize your pelvis, these exercises can work as meditations to calm you during the stress of the holidays and new year.

In this blog we’ll review one of my earlier entries. As always, if your experiencing any back or pelvic pain, consult your doctor or PT before attempting any of these exercises.

You can do this exercise either lying down (preferable with knees bent), sitting or standing.

We’ll start by focusing on your breath.

Believe it or not, there are different ways to breathe. You can breathe into your belly, or you can breathe into your ribcage. The Pilates method focuses predominantly on ribcage breathing, however, for a healthy core one should be able to access both types of breath.

Put your hands around your waist and inhale through your nose. Imagine your breath swirling down to the base of your pelvis, and as you exhale imagine your breath floating up into your ribcage.

Do this 5 or 6 times to slowly open and extend your breath.

Once you have made this connection, use the following visualization to engage your core:
Imagine a soft, squishy ball inside you abdomen. Inhale as described above, then, as you exhale imagine both your navel and your spine moving towards each other to squeeze the ball.

On your next exhale, imagine that the sides of your waste are narrowing to squeeze the ball.
Progress your abdominal engagement by imaging both visuals at once: the navel and spine narrowing towards the ball as well as the sides of the waist narrowing towards the ball.

Do this exercise once a day to lessen your stress and increase your strength.
Have a Happy New Year!