Yoga for Physical Therapy

Hi, my name’s Kelsey Mccolum Luy and I’m a doctor of physical therapy at Therapydia, Tampa. I like to use utilize yoga as part of my physical therapy regiment with my patients.

So, I use manual therapy skills, myofascial release, joint mobilizations, and things like that to help my patients gain mobility in their bodies and correct body mechanics that may have come about from injury, things like that.

And then, I follow that up with yoga and yoga therapy. So, what I do is I utilize stretches, strengthening exercises, and things like this to help the patient progress, so that they won’t have this issue down the road.

So, what I like about yoga is that a lot of the exercise help the person to gain mobility. So, we need mobility before we work on stability. So, then, I have the patient work on some strengthening poses, maybe one leg holds, certain postures that challenge their balance and strength and things like this.

And then, I also like yoga because it utilizes neuromuscular reeducation and alignment cuts. So, it helps the person know how moving in everyday life should feel, how it should feel in their bodies.

And the principles of yoga, my thought process is that by teaching them yoga, then I can send them on a wellness path, so that they won’t have these issues down the road, so they can continue to go down this wellness path and do the exercises that I provide them at home or go and take a yoga class.

So, some poses from yoga that are great for working your lower body to help gain some true flexibility. One of them is just simply putting your legs up the wall. So, in order to do that, you just want to lay on your side here and get your bottom as close as you can to the wall and then you can just take your legs and put them up the wall. Just relax your feet and you want your tailbone down on the ground. And you can just put your arms out to a T and just relax here.

So, I like giving people this exercise because in order to gain true flexibility within your body, you want to hold this stretch for up to four to six minutes, so it’s something that you can do while watching TV, things like that. It’s nice to do at the end of your day and you’ll find that it’s relaxing instead of doing a hamstring stretch where you’re like, ow, this really hurts. This is actually very comfortable.

The next one I’ll have you do, you just go straight from that one to this one. And it works the piriformis and gluteus muscles and your lower body to stretch. So, you just bend your knees and you place the ankle over the knee. Same principle here. You want your lower back down on the ground. You want your hips to stay square. And you’re working on getting that knee to move towards the wall.

So, same principle here. Hold it four to six minutes and then you just switch legs.

The last one for lower body. You can forget about the ankle and foot. So, a good pose for that is hero pose, and you can do it with your toes tucked. So, that’s just a kneeling pose. Tuck your toes and your knees, keep the ankle straight up to the sky and just sit back.

So, you’ll start to feel this pretty aggressively in the sole of your foot. And you can hold this for ideally one to two minutes. In yoga, we always say, you know when you’re starting the stretch is when you start to feel it. That’s when you know that if you start to feel it, stay there.

Then, from there, you can just take your feet and bring the top of your feet down and then sit there for 1 to 2 minutes and it should stretch the top of your foot—your shin—if you have a lot of shin splints, pain like that. And you can even kind of rock back and you might feel it more. Or put your feet up on a block or something like that and then sit back on your feet.

Those are the three poses to help your lower body.