Yoga is on the rise and while you may only think about it in terms of a modern day workout, it’s making quite an impact on conventional physical therapy. Yoga incorporates meditation, breathing exercises, self-reflection, along with body alignment and balance to aid in physical, mental, and spiritual health. It’s popularity has risen over the years because the practice can be altered to fit any age, condition, and physical ability.
If used in conjunction with conventional physical therapy, new research is suggesting that yoga has the ability to aid with treating multiple muscles at once, potentially speeding up recovery, improving muscle movement and focusing the mind. The more we learn about the benefits of these seemingly different aspects of health, the more we realize the combination of the two goes well beyond flexibility and strength building.
1. Improved muscle response
All muscles are covered by fascia, a strong connective tissue that surrounds and separates muscles. Fascia is adaptive and plays a role in posture, movement, and sometimes even pain, after an injury or surgery. Within fascia, there are receptors that are part of the nervous system, and relay information about movement. Yoga poses stimulate this tissue, promoting adaptation that may not be efficiently addressed with single joint exercises.
2. Faster recovery
While more research is needed, some evidence supports that combining yoga and conventional physical therapy may yield favorable results in recovery. A study by Nilima Bedekar (2012) examined conventional therapy with the addition of yogasanas (movement postures) in patients following total knee replacement surgeries, and found that combing yoga and physical therapy leads to improved pain relief, less stiffness, and improved overall function.
3. Treat multiple problems
Oftentimes, items that seem unrelated may contribute to certain pains. For example, hip weakness or poor ankle flexibility often plays a role in knee pain. When injured, a physical therapist will look at more than just the problem area and assess multiple joints to target their treatment. Often, these muscle deficiencies in various locations can be challenged by a single yoga pose. For instance, child’s pose can target shoulder, back, and hip mobility promoting a more complete treatment. This allows the therapist to utilize more effective exercises and address multiple problems simultaneously.
4. Body and mind
The physical component of yoga is one of its many branches. Strong research is emerging in the field of psychology supporting the use of meditation and yoga principles to help address distressful emotional states including anxiety, depression, trauma, and pain. Pain, especially when chronic, is more than just a physical irritation to the body. Psychological factors and mal-adaptive beliefs about pain often contribute to symptoms. Incorporating yoga philosophies in certain populations might have a powerful effect in regulating pain and improving well-being.
If you’d like more information on how to treat chronic or injury-induced pain with yoga and physical therapy, schedule a free consultation and we’d be happy to talk more about your condition.