Friday with Friends

159 | Combining yoga and physical therapy | with Kristin Williams

Nov 8, 2019

Kristin Williams and I are both physical therapists which means that our approach to teaching yoga is quite different. Kristin actually got into yoga because she had so many PT patients coming in injured from yoga and decided that she needed to learn more about it. 

In today’s podcast we talk about how modern work and life can make people pretty rounded in the spine and how the answer to many aches and pains is thoracic extension.

The yoga injury she sees the most in her PT practice is hips. There’s so much variety in people’s hips and sometimes yoga teachers teach pigeon or forward folds with too much emphasis on pushing into the pose. Another thing that’s a common problem in the yoga world is teaching without enough thought to sequencing and organization in a class. The transitions between poses need to make physiological sense. They should be choreographed, not random. 

As PTs the biggest issue we see is that people are too rounded and need thoracic extension. This is not just about posture. It’s also about pulmonary function. It’s so underestimated how much lack of movement affects how big your breath can be. This is about the elderly not being able to cough or inhale and falling prey to illnesses such as pneumonia.

The second biggest issue is a lack of spinal rotation. Rotation feeds the spine by bringing in all of the blood flow, oxygen and cerebrospinal fluid.

The third biggest problem is a lack of mobility in the hips. 

To wrap up this episode Kristin answers the following audience questions:

  • What is the best exercise for scoliosis in the spine?
  • What should you do about pain in feet and the peroneal tendon during and after running?
  • What is the best way to help with tight hip muscles?
  • Do PTs welcome clients without referrals or when things aren’t necessarily ‘wrong’?
  • Do you have any tips for a winged scapula?
  • Is whiplash recovery possible after 20 years?


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