As a physical therapist, I often hear from my clients, “I sit at a desk all day and I know I have horrible posture. That’s probably why my neck hurts, right?”. This idea generally comes from social media posts, posture “corrector” gadgets, and posture being the historical blame for every neck and back issue if you have a desk job. But here is the kicker — there is no perfect posture. That’s right, I said it. And this is what I reiterate to my physical therapy clients time and time again to break the negative cycle about posture being the cause of their pain.
As a physical therapist, I spend a large part of my time educating clients on their bodies. I'm not talking about the body they saw in a magazine, or the body they had 20 years ago. Rather, I educate them about the body they walk in with.
When attempting to figure out a body’s movement history and how we’re going to change the direction of the story, it’s important that my explanation makes sense to them. Otherwise there will be minimal to no follow through after they leave my office. Without a true understanding of the “why” and how it relates to function, no amount of printed off exercise programs will have an impact on helping someone move better and without pain. Maybe it's my psychology major or my love for creating associations and images with words, but I often teach by creating a funny visual, alliteration, metaphor, or motto.
Yoga is a centuries old practice but oftentimes, teachers have not adapted the style of teaching to reflect the demands of modern day life. If we take a critical lens to the demands of the modern worker, we see more sitting, phone use, and overall sedentary lifestyle than ever before. These prolonged postures have an effect on our muscles and posture in a way that we may not be aware of when we walk into a yoga class.
Someone asked me this question the other day and I immediately wrote it down. That's because it was probably the 800th time I’ve been asked about inversion tables. And while I have answered this question many times, I've never done any formal research on it. I would always answer it based on what I had seen clinically. So the typical dialogue goes something like this...
Many new clients come in shifted... their squat looks crooked... or they've got a longer stride on one side when running.
So how did they get these imbalances? Oftentimes the logical explanation is that they're simply over-exposing themselves to certain environments such as:
- Spending too much time doing one thing
- Sitting at a desk with the mouse in one's right hand
- Having an untreated injury
- Playing one-sided sports like golf, sweep rowing, archery or pitching baseballs
When activities are biased towards one side, you may be disrupting the "balanced asymmetry" of the body. Yes, that's correct — we are all naturally asymmetrical.
So you’ve gone to your first beginner yoga class. Or maybe you just got a Peloton and did their 30-minute Vinyasa flow. Or perhaps you’ve been practicing Ashtanga for years but something changed recently. I hear from yogis at all levels that something about their chaturanga is painful. Although many people begin yoga in hopes of improving their flexibility, there is also a lot of strength required in yoga practice. Chaturanga is a particularly challenging pose requiring significant muscular support to perform it correctly. Yet, it is one of the first moves you learn in many yoga practices.
In a previous post, we discussed how kettlebells allow you to replicate many of the basic movements you make in everyday life. This type of strength training helps you re-establish natural movement patterns, learn how to handle unstable loads without thinking about it, and reduce the risk of injury.
In today's post, we'll look into four kettlebell exercises that can be applied to all walks of life, whether you’re a world-class athlete or you struggle to pick up a bag of groceries.
The squat exercise continues to have a dual identity in the realms of fitness, sports performance, and physical rehabilitation. On one hand, an exercise like the barbell back squat is in an elite category for its ability to build full body strength, especially in the legs. It has even been called the “King of exercises” by some enthusiasts. On the other hand, there is a polar opposite perspective in the industry where squatting is misconstrued as a negative exercise that increases wear and tear on the knees.
I can't claim to be an expert yogi, but I have been practicing for over a year with a fantastic instructor (shout out to Joanna Wilson). Yoga has added much value to my life. As a physical therapist and former Division 1 softball player, most of my fitness has come in the more standard forms of weight lifting and running. I also did some Pilates to build core strength and coordination after sustaining an injury of my own.
I always shied away from yoga because I didn't think I was flexible or graceful enough. But, when I started seeing clients for pain they developed in their yoga practice, I had to better understand how they were pushing themselves, and what they were experiencing in their bodies. I also had to find out why people were getting so excited to do a handstand! So I signed up for my first lesson.
Today, a year later I am still at it. After countless hours of training, I can fully appreciate the simultaneous strength, flexibility and balance required for yoga practice. This was something that was lacking from my previous fitness routines.
Like most joints, things pop, click, grind, and tell us we’re still alive! The jaw joint or TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) is no different. It may start to make noises or feel differently when opening your mouth. But what are those noises? And when are they bad?