Yoga is making an impact on physical therapy, because of its usefulness as a component of therapeutic exercise during treatment sessions. Not only is yoga an accessible form of physical activity, with over 21 million Americans participating in some form of yoga each year, but it also has many therapeutic benefits. When used in conjunction with conventional physical therapy, yoga can offer a powerhouse treatment to improve symptoms from myriad conditions and injuries.
Treating Injuries and Conditions with Yoga
Some of the injuries and conditions that can be improved with the addition of yoga to their physical therapy treatment plan include:
Arthritis: There are more than 100 different types of arthritis which can lead to chronic pain and impairment. Depending on the type of arthritis, some patients may experience a worsening of symptoms as they age. Yoga offers physical therapists a gentle movement modality which can be modified as needed to address each patient’s unique needs.
Post-ACL repair: Patients that require surgical repair for their ACL will experience post-surgical pain, stiffness and weakness. Yoga is a great modality to help gradually increase the patient’s strength without undue stress on the knee joint.
Fibromyalgia: A chronic pain condition which is susceptible to multiple flare-ups when exposed to certain triggers, Fibromyalgia patients need a moderate modality that can help improve functional movement without causing additional pain. Yoga meets these requirements and when used appropriately can ease pain in tense muscles.
Frozen Shoulder: Frozen shoulder causes a marked decrease in range of motion in the shoulder joint. This limitation can trigger pain that can radiate to surrounding areas and down the arm. Therapeutic yoga is an effective modality which can be used with other physical therapy modalities like electrical stimulation and ultrasound therapy to help improve movement and reduce any tenderness.
ITB band syndrome: ITB band syndrome is characterized by pain and tightness in the connective tissue of the iliotibial band and surrounding muscles. In addition to yoga, resistance bands like the Theraband Tubing and Connectors or Sissel Sup-R bands can be used to help gently stretch and strengthen the iliotibial band, quadriceps and hamstrings.
The Therapeutic Benefits of Yoga During Physical Therapy
1.Improved range of motion
All of the muscles are covered by connective tissues, called fascia, which separates the muscles and helps support posture and movement. Patients may experience both pain and limited movement in the fascia after an injury or chronic condition. With the use of specific yoga poses that can stretch the connective tissue, range of motion can be improved.
Pro-tip: In addition to yoga, the use of a myofascial roller can be used to further stretch and lengthen the connective tissue. The Blackroll myofascial roller or Sissel foam roller are great choices for providing targeted release of the fascial tissue. It’s a great choice for practitioners to use on the neck, shoulder, upper arm and back musculature, hip and calf muscles.
For example, the myofascial roller is a great tool to use to address the tightness and limited movement caused by Iliotibial Band Syndrome. Once range of motion has been improved and triggered pain will also decrease.
2. Improved Recovery
Because yoga results are beneficial in rehabilitation, more time is being spent studying its therapeutic benefits. One study published in the International Journal of Yoga examined conventional therapy with the addition of yoga asanas (movement postures) in patients following total knee replacement surgeries. The study’s results found that combing yoga and physical therapy leads to improved pain relief, less stiffness, and improved overall function for the majority of study participants.
Pro-Tip: When using yoga in a physical therapy setting, it’s important to use a yoga mat that is safe to use with patients who may have balance issues. The Cando yoga and exercise mat or the Sissel Yoga and Pilates mat are high-quality, anti-slip exercise mats, perfect to use with diverse patient populations. What’s more, the mat is hygienic and easy to clean making it the perfect choice for high volume clinics.
For patients with total knee replacement, it’s important to use modified yoga poses as needed to adjust for limitations in range of motion. As the patient’s strength and range of motion increases, the pose can be adapted to include more range of motion.
3. Treat Multiple Deficiencies
For most patients who have suffered an injury or have a chronic condition, there may be more than one strength deficit or impairment. Often, the interdependence of these impairments can contribute to the initial injury or condition. For example, a weakness in the hip combined with poor flexibility in the ankle can lead to chronic knee pain. When injured, a physical therapist will look at more than just the problem area and will assess multiple joints to target their treatment. Luckily, these muscle deficiencies in various locations can be challenged by a single yoga pose. For instance, warrior one pose can focus on strengthening the knee and thigh while improving hip mobility to promote a more complete treatment. Using Yoga as an adjunct modality allows the therapist to utilize more effective exercises and address multiple problems simultaneously.
Pro-Tip: One of the great advantages of using yoga as part of therapeutic exercise is that it can be modified to work with your patient’s fitness level and any identified deficits. In addition, yoga poses can be modified to accomplish graduated strength training with the use of therapy bands, resistance tubes and balance tools.
For example, when working with a patient who is a bit further along in their balance training, the Sissel BalanceFit can be added to certain yoga poses to provide more of a challenge. In addition to increasing balance and coordination, the BalanceFit helps strengthen smaller tertiary muscles important for maintaining neutral posture and performing more complex movements.
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We can help your practice find the perfect yoga equipment for your patients in your rehabilitation practice. Contact us today and we’ll answer any questions you may have about the best and safest yoga equipment to use in rehabilitation! Call us today at 1-801-770-3328 for more information.