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: Seated Hamstring Stretch

Fiona McMahon DPT, PT

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Fenitra, of BBPT shows the correct way to perform this stretch. Notice how she doesn’t curve her back forward in order to perform the stretch

Seated Hamstrings Stretch

Hello folks! Beyond Basics Physical Therapy’s latest health tip is the seated hamstrings stretch!

Why seated you ask? In selecting this stretch over other hamstrings stretches, I wanted to pick something that most everyone can be able to do. This stretch is particularly beneficial for those of you who have difficulty getting on and off the floor. Although if you do have difficulty getting off of the floor, it is important to go to physical therapy and get the training to do so, as being able to independently get up off the floor is imperative for maintaining independent function as you age.  Another point: if you have any sciatic pain or sitting pain, please seek a physical therapist before attempting this stretch.  

Muscles involved: Hamstrings, gastroc soleus complex ( your calf) and to some extent your sciatic nerve

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

Caution: It is possible to overdo it. Stop the stretch or ease up if you feel tingling in your legs or pain in your low back.

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

 

Directions:  Sitting in a sturdy chair, ( don’t do this on a rolly stool or office chair, please!). Straighten knee of leg to be stretched and point toes up. Lean forward at the hips until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg. Don’t round your back. Keep in mind, for those of us with tight hamstrings, you will feel the stretch without too much of a forward bend.  So take it slow!

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Fenitra demonstrates a straight knee and pointed toe while performing her stretch
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Fenitra demonstrates this stretch

BBPT Health Tips: Quadriceps Stretch

Quadriceps Stretch

 

Hello folks! Beyond Basics Physical Therapy’s latest health tip is the quadriceps stretch!

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Victoria LaManna, DPT, PT, CLT at Beyond Basics

Muscles involved: The quadriceps. The quadriceps are a muscle group that has four separate muscle heads, (quads (four), ceps (heads), get it?). If you walk, you put these guys to work everyday. They work to extend (straighten) the knee and one of the heads, (the rectus femoris) works to flex (bend) the hip.

Stretch Type: Static: Best if performed after workouts on warm muscles. Exercise caution if stretching cold (unwarmed up) muscle.

Caution: This stretch is not advisable for those with balance issues

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

Directions:  Standing with support in front of you if you need support. Bend your knee and hold your leg at the ankle. Be careful not to abduct your leg (or let your knee move laterally away from the body).   Hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute on each leg and repeat.

Learn more about Victoria here!

Welcome to Beyond Basics Physical Therapy’s monthly “Tip from your Physical Therapist!”

Fiona McMahon, DPT

We are rolling out a new tip monthly to help you increase your fitness and general health. Today we will be going over a stretch. Before we get started, let’s go over some basics.

The most common question I get asked when I give people a stretch to do is, “ should I do this stretch before or after I work out?” My answer usually is, whenever you are most likely to remember to do it. The best stretch or exercise is one you actually do”. I then go on to explain that you get a little more bang for your buck if you do it after exercise. In a Cochrane review, researchers show that stretching before exercise typically reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by ½ point on a 100 point scale and stretching afterwards reduced muscle soreness by 1 point on a 100 point scale.

Reading that last paragraph, you probably thought, “small potatoes, Fiona, 1 point is not worth disrupting my routine for”. But stretching has many other benefits. The Mayo Clinic Reports that regular stretching has been shown to improve athletic performance, improve blood flow to the muscle, and reduce risk of injuries. Do I have your attention yet?

Let’s introduce July’s stretch:

Adductor Stretch

Adductor Stretch- melissa Stendahl
Staff Physical Therapist, Melissa Stendahl demonstrates

Muscles involved: The adductors, or inner thigh muscles. These muscles primarily serve the function to bring your legs together and are commonly involved in “groin tears”

Stretch Type: Static: Best if performed after workouts on warm muscles. Exercise caution if stretching cold ( unwarmed up) muscle.

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

Directions: Hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute; repeat. You may increase the intensity of this stretch, by hinging at the hips and bringing your torso forward over your legs. Remember, to keep your back straight and that this should be a gentle stretch and should not be painful.

Learn more about Melissa Stendahl here!

Sources:

 

Herbert R, de Noronha M, Kamper S. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Review.  2011.
Mayo Clinic Staff. Stretching: Focus on Flexibility. Mayo Clinic. 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931?pg=1. [Accessed: July 23,2016} 

Pilates: Building to Downward Dog

By Denise Vidal

So far in our Pilates blogs we have built a solid foundation of exercises by exploring fundamental joint movements in relationship to our breath and core support. In this blog, we will attempt to apply what we have learned to a more challenging movement called downward dog.

Downward dog is a movement that is a part of the yoga repertoire, but versions of it are also done in Pilates. In Pilates, the mechanics of downward dog are involved in the exercises “Knee Stretch” and “Upstretch.” In both methods, the exercise is a full body movement that requires a flow of communication between the upper and lower limbs through the torso. In our last few blogs we have been working on movements that support this interaction. In this blog, we will begin to put them together to create the full movement.

To begin, come into a table top position; that is, on your hands and knees with your head in line with your tailbone. Take a deep inhale, feeling your ribcage expand under your shoulder girdle.  As you exhale, feel the abdominals float up toward your spine, without changing your spinal position. Remember the pregnant cat cue?

On your next exhale, maintain the connection of your shoulder blades and ribcage as you begin to sit back towards your heels. As you sit back, two things are happening. The shoulder blades are beginning to widen, just as they did in the last blog. Remember lifting the dowel up to the level of your forehead? Your hands should be in a similar position on the floor. The second thing that is happening is your sitz bones are widening and your thighs are rolling back in your hip joint. Remember our Pilates footwork?

Continue to shift forward and back until you can feel both movements, while connecting to your core. Remember to inhale in the table top position and exhale in the kneeling squat position. Practice this a few times a day.

If you are experiencing any wrist or knee pain do not continue with the exercise. Check with your doctor or physical therapist before proceeding. In the next blog we will attempt to take our knees off of the floor.

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Pilates: Spine Stretch Forward

By Denise Vidal

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Building on the twisting movement of the last blog, I would like to share with you a traditional Pilates exercise called the Saw. However, before we progress to the full movement, there is one more fundamental we need to discuss.

We need to take a closer look at spinal flexion, and for that we need to take a closer look at the vertebra of the spine. Each vertebra has different protrusions which serve specific functions for spinal movement. Today we are going to look at the protrusions both above and below the vertebra, called facets. When I imagine the facets of the vertebra, I think of window blinds, how each blind fits above and below the others.

When you flex your spine, it is similar to drawing the blinds closed, with each facet sliding away from the others. When you extend your spine, it is similar to drawing the blinds open, with each facet sliding towards each other.

See if you can take this image and put it into movement. You can do this exercise either sitting down or standing up. Although, if you do this standing up, keep your knees slightly bent to lessen the force of gravity. To begin, take a deep breath. As you exhale drop your chin towards your chest and start to roll your spine down. In your mind’s eye, see the facets above and below your vertebra slide apart as if you are drawing the blinds closed. You need only to roll as far as you begin to flex at your waist. When you arrive there, take another deep breath. When you exhale, begin to roll your spine up. In your mind’s eye, see the facets slide over each other, like drawing the blinds closed.

Repeat this action two more times, being sure to begin and end each movement with breathe.

Planting the seeds for optimal back health

Gardening is a beautiful way to get exercise, create physical beauty, and connect with nature’s life cycle. The unwanted harvest of this activity may be back pain. Here are a few tips to prevent injury:

  • Warm up before you begin by taking a quick walk or marching in place. Follow this with a few gentle stretches.
  • Practice mindfulness. If you experience a back or neck pain, take a break from the position you are in, stretch, and reassess how you are feeling.
  • Avoid kneeling on both knees. Keep one foot on the ground use knee pads.
  • Alternate positions often to prevent stiffness.
  • Bend your knees and keep your back straight while engaging your abdominal muscles when you lift soil or pull weeds.
  • End your gardening session with a short walk or some light stretching. Take a warm bath or shower to help prevent next-day soreness.
  • If you experience pain, contact your physical therapist.
  • Enjoy your efforts while cooling down with light stretching. Smell the roses!