General movement and mobility are a necessary part of recovery for injured tissue. As Physical Therapist’s, we often get the question of whether or not a particular client should participate in yoga due to lack of mobility. This can be a more complex question with an even more complex answer than many clients may like, with the classic physical therapist’s answer of “it depends” holding true. Yoga can be beneficial for physical and mental health when the client knows how to move AND/OR the instructor knows how to coach proper movement. When a yoga class lacks both of these, dysfunctional movement patterns and pain can persist and exacerbate secondary to movement compensation.
Limitations within a specific muscle group lead to movement compensations with other joint involvement. This is very common with everyone and managing the compensation is more important than completely eliminating them. In the event of pain, there is likely excess compensation in one area leading to tissue irritation. This can be due to a number of factors including but not limiting to frequency and load An example of this would be the painless motion of bending over to touch your toes vs. bending over to touch your toes 150 times (frequency) or bending over with 400lbs (load). The movement compensation most prevalent with this motion is due to tightness in the posterior chain, there is more movement at the lumbar spine resulting in tissue irritation and pain.
Injury and Mobility
With a recent injury, it is often accepted that a lack of mobility contributed to the dysfunction and should be addressed. Within a yoga class, which is often general mobility, if the client is unaware how to properly lengthen the posterior chain without lumbar involvement, the dysfunctional compensation pattern persists and worsens as the body, essentially, continues to learn how to be dysfunctional. When pain arises, targeted mobility with proper cueing should be implemented to decrease the frequency of compensation to allow for normalized, efficient movement. This represents one very generalized example. Knowledge from the individual or from the coach is a necessity when performing yoga for pain.
If you have pain while doing yoga or have questions about physical therapy, reach out to us today! We are available via email or phone call to answer any questions you may have.